October 4th, 2016 - Jason
Stealth games have been around for a long time, but the most notable really began with Tenchu and Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 and Thief on the PC. They’ve come a long way over the years, but there have always been staples of the genre. Challenges that people would impose upon themselves, like never being seen, not killing anyone, and killing everyone. Modern games such as Dishonored introduced the world to blinking, also known as short range teleportation, which ended up being a game changer. Aragami takes a bit from all of these titles, and more (Mark of the Ninja, for example), and makes an extraordinary experience.
The game starts off simple enough, with a story you’d probably expect. You’re an Aragami, a vengeful spirit summoned by a captive in search of escape and revenge for the family she saw murdered by light adepts. You are a shadow adept, which is where the stealth comes in. You actually acquire power from being in the shadows, while the direct light drains them. The first ability you learn is to shadow leap, which is essentially teleporting from shadow to shadow – yeah, blinking. This will be your main form of traversing levels for the rest of game, as going toe to toe with the enemies WILL end up killing you. A single hit kills you. They shoot light from their swords like Link with a full heart meter.
Traveling via shadows isn’t perfect, mind you. While you will be teleporting a lot, you will tend to find areas that you aren’t meant to be. In these cases you’ll be automatically teleported elsewhere. This can work for or against you, depending on where you are heading. The main culprit of these issues is creating your own shadows to move about the world avoiding the light. But it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, as I only ran into it a couple times per level, if that.
As mentioned previously, the game takes inspiration from other titles. After each level, there are medals for the aforementioned challenges such as not killing anyone, never being seen, and killing every single enemy. Quite honestly, playing the pacifist route is easiest at the beginning, as your arsenal of abilities doesn’t allow for too much other than stealth attacks up close. While it doesn’t take long to get the ability to create distracting noises, there’s a lot more you can get to build a killing machine. To do so, all you must do is find the scrolls hidden throughout levels, for which you’ll unlock new abilities. It’s very possible to miss these and still continue through and even beat the game, but it’s much more difficult. But it’s entirely doable. It was a long time before I even tried out one of the abilities I gained from collecting scrolls.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper stealth game without the added difficulty of objectives and enemies. While you start the game merely reaching the next area as your objective, you are soon introduced to light orbs that need to be destroyed as they create light barriers that obstruct your path. And that’s in addition to enemies that are flat out harder to kill, such as archers that detect you a hell of a lot faster than the normal sword wielding guards.
The game is broken up into 13 levels, and doesn’t play favorites in how you play the game. It’s not like Deus Ex: Human Revolution where you are allowed to play lethal/non-lethal with a clear skew to play it non-lethal and stealthy as you gain a lot more experience that way. Abilities and trophies are spread out equally. Of course, getting the 100% is dependent on playing through the whole game both ways, but that’s one of those added challenges I enjoy. Playing through the game requires two radically different strategies.
Aragami takes from other stealth games what people loved, and combines them into its own game. A beautiful looking world, straight forward challenges, collectibles for new abilities, punishment for not being stealthy, and a decidedly awesome main character without trying to be – what’s not to love? This is a game for anyone that loves the genre and misses the soul of games like Tenchu ,but enjoys the mechanics of newer stealth titles. There’s even a co-op mode, but I didn’t have the opportunity to try that out.
- Optimal Stealth
- Beautifully Realized World
- Enemy/Self Progression
- Minor Technical Issues
Aragami was developed and published by Lince Works. The game launched on PC and PS4 October 4th, 2016 for $19.99. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of Aragami, check out the official site.
Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.