Indie Game Spotlight: Aragami

As a huge stealth adventure game fanatic, I’ve been waiting for a new experience. The Hitman games are excellent, but I generally prefer games that take place before the invention of the modern firearm. I’m not saying headshots can’t be extremely satisfying, but nothing is quite as exhilarating as stalking an unwary foe before silently dispatching them with your blade; ninja style. Aragami (originally named Twin Souls: The Path of Shadows) takes it one step further by granting you the ability to create and control shadows. Will you use your newfound powers to become a spirit of vengeance? Or become one with the shadows and infiltrate without leaving a trace?

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System:
PC, Mac OS, PS4

Developer:
Lince Works

Released:
October 4, 2016

Price:
$19.99 on Steam

Gameplay:

The journey begins as the player is summoned into existence as a shadow spirit by a young white-haired sorceress. As her minion, you are sent forth in search of various items in order to exact revenge on her enemies and save a damsel in distress. You will traverse a mysterious Asian-inspired land and encounter a handful of different enemy types. Aragami (literally) forces you to utilize your unique skill set to remain undetected, defeat foes, and overcome obstacles. The view is third person, similar to the view in the Hitman series, and the powers were reminiscent of the skills used in Dishonored.

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As a shadow spirit, you possess the ability to teleport between and areas that are covered in darkness and to create shadows to conceal yourself. Eventually you acquire other abilities by collecting hidden scrolls. There is no experience or “leveling up” so a stealthy character will have the chance to unlock the same amount of skills as a violent character. Awards are granted at the end of each chapter for eliminating all enemies, staying completely undetected, or leaving no casualties. This can be tricky, because even when in complete darkness, you still aren’t completely invisible to enemies. After collecting these scrolls, you must choose which abilities to unlock. If you decide to go the violent route, I suggest purchasing the ability to dispose of bodies first. Pure stealth characters might prefer the ability to see through walls or even the ability to temporarily become invisible. I enjoyed my violent playthrough but the ending made me reconsider some of my actions.

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Aragami’s art style is one of its biggest strengths. Although the sun has gone down and the land is dark, the color palette is surprisingly bright and colorful. The graphics are very cartoonish and the animations are nice and smooth. The player dons a red cape that turns black when he is covered in darkness. The symbols on the cape represent which power is selected and how many uses are remaining. This is very convenient, saves space, and requires less bars and icons on the HUD. I felt very immersed in this mystical realm while zipping between shadows and luring enemies to their untimely demise.

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Being a shadow spirit is great for stealth but makes open combat a problem. Especially when your enemies are equipped with light infused weapons that kill you in one blow. Swordsman can launch a light wave from their blades and kill you from a distance. Archers will shoot you with light arrows that might alert enemies to your location even if they don’t land a direct hit. Each new enemy type adds a new layer of difficulty but there were so few variations that it became somewhat repetitive roughly midway through the journey. Toward the end of the game you encounter a few bosses. Each boss will test your skills in different ways and require different tactics to defeat. Unfortunately, there are also very few bosses to face in battle.

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Final Judgement: 78%

I really enjoyed my time playing Aragami despite the flaws. The scenery and character designs were amazing, and I really enjoyed the smooth gameplay. Mastering each skill was a lot of fun. After only an hour or two into the game I already felt like a true master shadow ninja. The biggest issue for me was that the game lacks the ability to climb or jump. Teleporting does the trick but it just feels very strange playing as a ninja who can’t jump. Additional bosses and enemy types would have also been a huge improvement. Other than those few issues and a few rather underdeveloped characters, Aragami is a very solid and enjoyable experience.

Pros:

 

  • Great art style
  • Cool kill animations
  • Cool powers and upgrades
  • Multiplayer
  • Decent amount of difficulty
  • Some replay value
  • Fun stealth gameplay

Cons:

 

  • NO JUMPING OR CLIMBING!?
  • No equipment, items, or loot
  • Predictable AI
  • Too few enemy types
  • Too few bosses
  • Repetitive gameplay

 

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