Review: Aaru’s Awakening
When taking your first glance at Aaru’s Awakening, you’ll notice the beautiful visuals that the game offers. Everything you see on screen is hand drawn and is one of the bright spots in a short and somewhat frustrating experience. As a champion of the powerful Dawn, Aaru is tasked with defeating Dawn’s fellow brothers: Day, Dusk and Night.
Aaru is controlled using L1 to jump and charge, while R1 and R2 is used for teleporting purposes. For simple platforms, jumping and charging works well, but for the bigger gaps, teleporting must be used. With R1 and the right stick, you throw an orb and aim an orb to a location and press R2 to teleport to that location. The control scheme can be hard to learn at first, but over time I found the controls to be intuitive, but difficult to master.
The levels of Aaru’s Awakening appear to be short, bite-sized levels than can be beaten in a few minutes or less. However, the actual time it takes to complete a level is drawn out when trying to complete the more difficult levels. Aaru’s Awakening is hard, but sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons. Expect to die a lot, but thankfully checkpoints are given to you frequently. Platforming sections can be tedious instead of fun. After completing a level, I sometimes found myself saying “good riddance” instead of “good job”. I felt no sense of accomplishment upon completing a section or level. The only reward is knowing another tougher or frustrating level is in front of you. On the other hand each time you die, you learn something new that will help you get through the particular puzzle or level. Frustration also comes when you finally get past the first few obstacles, only to die at the next obstacle that you couldn’t see before. I also found myself struggling with the simplest of actions, such as jumping on the next platform. The challenge comes from being precise with your movements and many times there is only one specific way to clear an obstacle. It feels like trial and error, trying to find which combinations of jumping, charging and teleporting I needed to use. The story did not act as a motivational factor while trying to trudge through the game as the story is fairly simple.
The art in the game is exceptional. Each of the brothers, Aaru, and enemies are beautiful to look at, leading you to stop and gaze upon the detail each of them. A problem I found with the art, is that at times it was hard to determine what an obstacle was and what was just background. A few times I found myself maneuvering through the environment only to die unexpectedly, as parts of what seemed to be the background, were actually foreground obstacles. Another problem I found with the art is it’s hard to determine what spaces your character can jump through and what spaces only the teleportation orb can fit through. Some crevices are big enough that I figured Aaru could fit through, only to find out that he couldn’t and then in turn die. It’s another contributing factor to the trial and error gameplay. The music gets the job done and fits the mood of each level well, but I can’t say I found any of the tunes memorable.
A big aspect of the game that is apparent is the game is built around speed-running. Each level has a bronze, silver or gold medal that is awarded after completion based on your time. Global leaderboards and a friends leaderboard are shown to compare your times with others. It is a nice feature that was included. I was interested in looking at other player’s times. A Hardcore mode is featured, allowing you to see how far you can get in the game before dying. There is a global leaderboard option for Hardcore mode in the options, and when selected, no names appear. This leads me to believe that no one has actually beaten the game in Hardcore mode.
Aaru’s Awakening can be beaten in just a few sittings and the experience isn’t memorable or overall exciting. It is worth somewhat of a playthrough to look at the gorgeous environments and characters, provided they don’t kill you first. One of the last stages in the game is named “Hopeless”, which is how it feels sometimes when playing.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Art and Characters
What I Dislike:
- Trial and Error
- Deceiving Art
- No Sense of Accomplishment