Review: Aragami (PS4).
The biggest games throw in stealth as one of the few options to traverse the board, as not everyone has the patience for it. There are also a lot of simplifications there, so you have to reach out to smaller developers for real stealth. We already had the excellent (albeit problematic) Styx: Master of Shadows (PS4), and now we got the … excellent (albeit problematic) Aragami (PS4).
Such is the fate of a stealth fan – productions focused solely on playing quietly are often full of errors. However, if the AI is reasonably good, and the game notices differences in the lighting and visibility of the hero or the degree of noise he makes, I can forgive a lot, even graphics from a decade ago and unbearable drops in liquidity. I can finally sneak decently!
At first, the plot seems to be something forced – we play the role of the undead spirit of revenge Aragami, who was summoned by a girl named Yamiko to collect six talismans and free her. Memories discovered as you progress better outline the characters, all the way to a rather perverse but predictable finale. You may not remember the story for long, but you can see that they had an idea for it and I didn’t feel the need to skip cutscenes. It is worth noting here that the whole is in the Polish language. Can you? You can.
It was especially ingenious to use one of the basics of stealth – light and shadow – as the power of both warring sides. Our hero draws his powers from darkened areas. While standing in these, the character model turns black and Aragami charges up the skill bar. The key here is teleportation (only to shadow areas) and the ability to temporarily create a shadow field. The whole thing is very similar to Blink from Dishonored (PS3), and works even better. The third-person perspective allows for more thoughtful maneuvers, creating an extremely smooth action stealth game. And this is by no means a defect!
It’s not like we can play Rambo or silently. Aragami (PS4) fits into a niche for hardcore fans of the genre and when the opponent notices us, we don’t have many options. Our hero dies from a single arrow or sword, so running away is all we can afford. Loading checkpoints is a natural and constantly used element of the game. So where does the title of “liquid action stealth” come from? Well, teleportation and creating your own shadow, combined with a camera from behind your back, allow for great orientation in the field and very fast flying on the board, from execution to execution. Of course, we can (and should) learn enemy patrol routes, but the beauty of Aragami (PS4) is that you don’t have to. We have the tools to make a quick escape if necessary.
Teleport is not enough? Add to that a shadow “distraction”, remotely activated traps and missiles. We can also remove the bodies of enemies (the blood remains, but no one cares …), and even summon a snake or a dragon from the shadow, which will bite off the victim’s head and get rid of the body! We unlock powers by finding scrolls and it happens at a fairly reasonable pace. The levels can be repeated, and it’s worth it, because each time you can get three medals – for killing and sparing everyone and not causing any alarm. Both forms of passing the level are completely different experiences and if you skip one of them, you will lose a lot.
The cel-shading styling is beautiful, and all the information is stuffed onto the hero’s cape. Like in The Journey, the material fluttering behind our backs is a kind of “HUD” for us, showing the amount of shadow power and the selected skill (although sometimes it wraps so unfortunate that it is difficult to read anything from it). The selected graphic style is also almost perfect to distinguish shaded places from ordinary and illuminated places. I was afraid that such a simple division would translate into zero-one perceptions of Aragami by enemies, but the effort was made here. Whether anyone sees us depends on the character, movement, light intensity and distance from the guard. A little over ten-hour adventure did not surprise me even once with being detected completely from the cap, and I could not brazenly crouch in the shadow in front of the opponent, because they are not completely blind. Unfortunately, they are not very deliberate.
Artificial intelligence is … bearable. Their perception is at a fairly reliable level, but we get nothing else. They do not contact, they do not notice that they are left alone on patrol (no bodies – no problem), you can distract them many times in a row and go back to the quiet patrol. After the alarm is raised, they also do not surprise with any timbre, they only fly headlong to catch us. Even with a room full of enemies, escaping is embarrassingly easy … if you don’t get hit by the rays of light flying everywhere. Well, but against the background of games that they try to be stealthy, I am able to accept such “sufficient” AI.
Although I mentioned minor glitches, for the end I left the biggest problem for myself – the technical side. The textures belong to the PS2 era, although it is still possible to swallow, because the chosen style means that it is not that offensive. Worse with framerate – the game does not flicker even in thirty frames, and there are also frequent drops in liquidity. It is not tragic and after a while you get used to it, but it should not be the case, especially in the case of such an undemanding graphic design. Although the loading times here are extremely short. A co-op has also been stuffed, which works, but does nothing but do the same for the two of you, co-op sneaking never works anyway. Still – a nice addition.
|It is worth noting here that the developer has announced work on an update that will improve the smoothness of the game. Currently the newest patch is the one for version 1.03 which improves the kick from the game and the lock in the fifth mission.|
Cel-shading Tenchu? Stealth Journey? Third-person Dishonored? You can look at Aragami (PS4) this way. He takes the best from each of these games, and even in other productions I started looking for shadows to prepare a possible escape route. It is a pity that there was not enough time (or skills) to refine everything to the last button. As with the recent gem Styx: Master of Shadows (PS4), there is a huge amount of masochistic stealth and a lot of mistakes that older fans of stealth will forgive, and a sequel with a larger budget could rub against the ideal. The second part of Styx is coming – I’m waiting for you, Aragami!