Aragami Review: Shady Figures
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 17th, 2016 No Comments
Aragami wears its influences on its sleeve. When speaking to a member of the development team at E3, Mark of the Ninja, Dishonored, Tenchu, and Metal Gear were all cited as influences for the game. Those influences shine through from the moment you start the game. This isn’t a bad thing though, because aspiring to emulate the cream de la cream of the stealth genre is admirable.
Aragami takes bits and pieces from its influences to create an engaging, tough and well-crafted stealth game.
An Aragami doesn’t choose who summons it or what it will be asked to do beyond exacting the invoker’s lust for vengeance. Yamiko brought Aragami back from the other side to help avenge the death of clan and the loss of her village at the hands of the vicious Kaiho Clan. If wiping out her village wasn’t enough, Kaiho imprisoned her and the Empress deep in the city’s temple.
There is a lot of ground standing between Aragami and Yamiko, and plenty of Kaiho soldiers along the way. In order to free Yamiko and the Empress, Aragami needs to infiltrate the city. However, if he doesn’t gather six talismans along the way, it’ll all be for naught.
As he gathers up the talismans, he learns of their connection to Yamiko and witnesses strange visions. Are these of his former life? What do the visions mean and what happens if he remembers who he once was? What purpose does an Aragami have beyond being an instrument of revenge?
Aragami’s story seems straightforward at first. The spirit needs to save the trapped damsel and fulfill his purpose. Yet, everything isn’t what it seems. There is a great mystery involving what an Aragami exactly is because Yamiko herself doesn’t know and honestly didn’t feel the summoning would work.
The closer Aragami gets to the city, the more we learn about his past. Disentangling the mystery of Aragami and Yamiko is extremely compelling.
Watch Your Front
Aragami is stealth gameplay in its purest form. There is no forgiveness for a mistake. When a guard catches you, it is over. This is because every guard can fire a projectile of light and as a being of shadow, concentrated light disintegrates you.
Light and shadow is the key to sneaking around in the game. Shadows are your succor. In the shadows, you are more easily hidden from guards and your shadow powers recharge. Light leaves you extremely visible. Too much light can drain your powers almost instantly. Sticking to the shadows as much as possible is in your best interest.
You can’t always stick to the shadows though, which is why it is good that you have access to a bevy of shadow-based powers that allow you to sneak past and sow confusion in your enemies. Aragami’s shadow powers are the most exciting part of the game. Naturally, you start out with little power — only able to teleport from shadowy area to shadowy area. As you make your way to free Yamiko, your command over the shadows grows.
While you start off with the basic ability to manipulate shadows, eventually you can use shadows to take full advantage of the terrain and your enemy. Besides being able to flit from shadowy spot to shadowy spot to sneak up behind an enemy or avoid them, you can use the shadows to dispatch opponents and hide their bodies from other guards.
When you unlock more advanced shadow techniques, you can throw silent shadow kunai to drop enemy from far away and summon powerful shadow beasts to devour them completely. You can get creative with how you combine your powers and how much or little you use them to accomplish your mission goals.
To further your grasp on shadows, you need to find scrolls littered throughout the areas you’re invading. Scrolls are placed in compromising locations. Gathering them often requires you to brave a lion’s den of guards. So, to further your pool of skills, you’ll need to be stealthy and clever to grab them.
Improving your shadow skills helps you better understand how to sneak past guards, distract them and use your shadow powers to get the upper hand.
A huge benefit of Aragami’s mission structure is it gives the gameplay a chance to layer concepts and get more complex. The game starts off very bare bones with you having to sneak past guards in a simple compound to allow you to master shadow teleportation.
As you get closer to the city, things get more difficult and missions get longer. Instead of one objective, you have multiple objectives, more varied enemy types, and tougher obstacles. The complexity only grows as you get near you goal. Thanks to this structure, you have all the tools necessary to help save Yamiko.
Aragami keeps the stealth tradition alive with measured gameplay that allows for plenty of improvisation thanks to the shadow powers. Visually, the game has a terrific art style that plays off shadows and light extremely well. On top of great visuals and gameplay, Aragami delivers a cool, original story.
Aragami was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code for the game provided by the developer.
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