Review: Hiding in the Shadows with Aragami

What would you do if you were ripped from an eternal slumber only to take on the task of justice by another? It would feel kind of rude being that you are a slave to this personal vendetta while still trying to figure out what exactly you have been resurrected for. Aragami, the latest game from Lince Works, gives you the ability of an undead ninja utilizing the shadows to seek justice and possibly connect to his own past life.

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In the beginning of any game, you are taken through a short tutorial where you learn about your shadow abilities. A teleportation ability is your best friend while you shift through the shadows to avoid detection. Now the developers promised an experience where you have a choice between going through levels completely undetected or eliminating all targets. I felt misled when I discovered that the game is completely in stealth mode, where the enemies can take you out with one-hit kills. The only defense you have is to sneak up on enemies and hopefully not be detected when performing a stealth kill. It defeats the purpose since stealth kills are typically not silent, and in most cases enemies from a distance take notice.

For a stealth game, it fails at giving you the idea of what stealth is. In Aragami when you are in the shadows, you transform into a shadow creature that should give enemies zero visibility, but apparently, these guys will get curious at a slight shimmer. Now the challenge comes in when you enter the light–you are fully visible, and heavy light will take away your shadow powers for a short period of time leaving you defenseless until you enter the shadows again.

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Don’t get me wrong, visually this game is beautiful to look at and I love the character design of Aragami and Yamiko. The story itself is a bit cliche, but that is not all bad since it is well executed. Aragami has an abundance of abilities that you can utilize in order to get through the levels smoothly. I favor the kunai and shadow blind move to take out opponents easy, however, be mindful of the area where you execute enemies. I can’t accept a game that gives you the impression that you are playing as a powerful character, but are limited to silly rules of engagement. I mean, I am an undead warrior with shadow powers and yet I still have to do things quietly to gain any footing in the game or bear looking like a fool and try to escape running away. If you do try that there will be light barriers that block your escape until things cool down.

In that, you get trapped with no way of defending yourself against enemies that will end you with one shot of their weaponry. I am okay being cornered, but I would like to be able to fight my way through even if it will be messy. I would like that option to just say, to hell with the silent approach and make this into a hostile mosh pit!

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Aragami tries its best to give homage to games like Tenchu and Dishonored, but the difference with those titles is that you can fight your way out if your cover is blown. In the notes, it states that,

In Aragami you will unlock different abilities suited to each gameplay style. We want to reward both types of players, as a mark of a true assassin is completing your objective using any method available. Mix it up or stick to one. The game will not reward or punish you more for choosing one or the other

Actually, it does, if you get detected you will lose points; if you go through the game killing and a body gets discovered you lose points. The time I received a perfect rating of “S” was when I went through the level without any casualties or any detection. That does not sit well with me at all.

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In my final thoughts, Aragami is an interesting game at a reasonable price. I just wish that I was not misled about the way you can go through the game or the consequences. I feel there is potential for a great ninja stealth game, but the gameplay is a bit dull at times and the enemies are dull at times. The only saving grace is the co-op feature that gives gamers their own way of fun with challenges as they can go through levels best way that they can. The downside is I hardly found people to play co-op with.

In all that and being that the game was on sale on Steam for $17.99, I still say it is a rental with almost 10 hours of gameplay. It is a reasonable purchase, but I would hold off for another sale. I hope you enjoyed this review of Aragami which is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC, Mac and Linux.

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