If there's one genre the independently developed video game scene is not short of it's the 2D puzzle platformer. With the likes of Fez, Super Meat Boy and Vessel it's fairly safe to say the joy of jumping from one platform to another in a funny way is pretty well represented.
So when I stumbled upon Aaru's Awakening
at PAX Prime 2013 my first thought was, 'wow, that looks pretty'. Granted, it's not particularly eloquent, but it was towards the end of the day and I was somewhat tired. I also thought it rather brave of the Icelandic developer Lumernox Games to take on this well-populated genre that was very well represented at the PAX Indie Megabooth.
What caught my eye more than anything was the visuals, which reminded me of the covers of Yes albums (look them up, kids). This lead me to believe that perhaps the great artist Roger Dean himself had a part to play in the creation of Aaru's Awakening
. Sadly this was not the case, but this does not detract at all from the splendour of the game as I played it for not an inconsiderable amount of time.Aaru's Awakening
is set in the world of Lumenox, which is undergoing a shift in its balance from day to night that will eventually see its destruction. The player takes on the role of Aaru, Dawn's champion, who must take on Night to prevent it from destroying the world.
Using the unique combination of mouse and keyboard for control, Aaru's Awakening
relies on the player's acute hand-to-eye coordination to manoeuvre through each level. Aaru's abilities include being able to charge into obstacles to remove them as well as transport himself over short distances.
The direction of his transport is determined by where the mouse is being pointed on the screen, forcing the player to pay close attention to where Aaru is headed as well as what obstacles are presented to him as he travels the landscape. Aaru's Awakening
is very fast-paced, with little to no let-up on the action as the player navigates through the beautifully rendered landscape. While playing Aaru's Awakening
I was reminded of the old Amiga game, Shadow of the Beast
, which also boasted a similar art style, but was far less entertaining than Aaru's Awakening
. As pretty as that game was, it was not fun to play.
But I digress, and I have already hinted at the dexterity required to play Aaru's Awakening
, which is sadly a great deal. I often fell to my death due to not appreciating the need to keep a beady eye on where my mouse was pointing along with where I was sending Aaru.
Once I got over this the game really started to open up and flow, with the speed not too dissimilar to early Sonic the Hedgehog
games only sporting a far less garish colour palette.
The score and sound effects were suitably atmospheric, but mercifully not similar to the musical offerings of Yes. A little harsh? Perhaps, but I speak as someone who grew up in the midst of the destruction of prog-rock and I have no desire to promote it. Where was I? Ah yes, the summing up remarks!Aaru's Awakening
plays well but is tough as nails. It should be approached with respect as well as caution, for those short on dexterous digits may want to practice a bit on Super Meat Boy
before tackling Aaru's Awakening
. Once you do have a bit of a warm up, you'll likely be well rewarded. We'll know for sure when the game arrives on the PC and Mac in the last quarter of this year.