- + Its art style is absolutely gorgeous
- + Two-player offers a ton of gameplay opportunities
- + Chaining together multiple abilities to pull off slick takedowns makes you feel like a god
- - Frame rate issues and bugs hamper an otherwise amazing experience
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Shadow Puppet”
I’m an absolute sucker when it comes to stealth in video games. Nothing beats the thrill of completing a level without being seen; silently circumventing threats, rather than facing them in a heated firefight. Deus Ex and Dishonored are recent examples of games that offer the freedom to do just this, allowing you to kill, remain a pacifist, or demonstrate a mixture of play styles at any given time.
When I was approached to review Aragami, an indie stealth title created by Lince Works (a developer who is relatively unknown) I wasn’t anticipating all that much. However, after an extensive amount of time with the game, Lince Works’ Aragami now ranks as one of my all time favourite stealth titles, and is currently my top indie game of 2016.
As a third-person stealth adventure that takes inspiration from the likes of Tenchu, Metal Gear Solid and Dishonored, it has a lot to live up to. But Aragami has a lot going for it. Its Japanese setting is wrapped in an utterly charming cel-shaded art style, which I fell in love with, and its gameplay offers a surprising amount of freedom. Taking charge as Aragami (a vengeful assassin summoned from the dead) you must help the girl that brought you to life, combatting the army of Light along the way.
Aragami’s fight against the army of Light is aided by his ability to manipulate shadows. He can teleport to any patch of complete darkness, or summon shadows to semi-lit areas that grant a greater amount of ground to cover. His power to control the darkness also extends to his arsenal, specifically his collection of abilities. Standard stealth kills (creeping up silently behind an enemy, for instance) are complemented by an upgrade system that contains six powers. These include the ability to turn invisible, plant traps or even use projectiles to take down enemies. My favourite power gave me the chance to hide an enemies’ corpse, and made staying undetected a little bit easier.
In total the game consists of 13 chapters, each of which can either be played solo or in two player co-op. Acting alone is fun, but coordinating with a friend offers something that’s hard to find in other stealth games; letting someone tag along can craft some truly fantastic gameplay opportunities. Given you have the correct teammate, the results can be incredibly satisfying.
There’s a lot to love about Aragami. The sheer freedom you’re given to explore each level and experiment with different styles of gameplay, feels amazing. Oh, and it’s a relatively easy Platinum for those looking to 100% its trophies. But a few technical issues occasionally dampen the experience; whilst writing this review the game has already implemented two major patches, both of which carry a laundry list of bug fixes.
That said, the frame rate is still abysmal whilst playing through the campaign in co-op, and figuring out the location of your next objective can sometimes remain a hard task. There were times where I would be told to “go to the next area” without any real direction available to me. Clearly a lot of works needs doing to plug the leaks, but on the whole I never encountered a game-breaking bug, they were simply inconvenient. Based on Lince Works’ rapid response to fix issues without delay, I trust any remaining issues will be rectified promptly.