Also On: PC
Publisher: Maximum Games
Developer: Lince Works
When gamers hear the term Stealth Action Game, most gamers will associate that with the Metal Gear Solid games. However, there was a lesser known series that came out a few months earlier called Tenchu, a ninja stealth action game all about assassination which was a favorite of mine. When I heard about Aragami, I immediately started drawing similarities between the two games and hoping that Aragami would recapture the magic of Tenchu.
You are an Aragami, an undead spirit of shadow brought back to life by Yamiko, a young woman kidnaped by the Kaiho, the army of Light. He has been summoned to rescue her and kill all the Kaiho. Aragami are basically pure shadow, if sunlight touches them they die. Their power is drawn from shadow, so it goes without saying stay out of the light. This vengeful spirit can do so by manipulating shadows, and jumping between them. Each time it uses a shadow ability, it gets a little weaker. This is indicated by the intricate glowing pattern on the cape, which really looks more like a banner, on your back. As the Aragami uses its abilities, the cape slowly loses its light from the bottom up. When it runs out, or gets low, and Aragami can spend some time in the shadows to recharge. It is a being of shadows after all. If it enters a brightly lit area it will lose shadow power.
As the Aragami was sent to avenge Yamiko’s people, she naturally wants it to kill the Kaiho. This is totally up to the player’s play style. The game is broken up into several stages, of course each stage is filled with enemies to sneak up on and kill. Or, if the player wishes to really challenge themselves, to sneak past all of them to reach the end of the stage. At the end of every level the assassin is graded on how they did, how many times they were spotted, how many soldiers killed, etc. Avoiding to be seen is pretty basic, stick to the shadowy areas of the map and the soldiers need to almost be on top of you to see you. If they get close a warning indicator will appear and start to fill up. If it fills all the way up or a dead body is found an alarm is sounded and all of the soldiers start looking. If an alarm is sounded at all, whether by seeing the spirit or by seeing a dead body, points are lost. This is one area of the game that is an issue. Unlike Tenchu, where if a body is spotted the guards go on alert, but it is not counted against the ninja unless they are actually seen. In this game, if a body is spotted, the same amount of points is lost as if the Aragami itself was. Normally there would be no issue; however, bodies cannot be moved in this game, so when a soldier is killed the body is left there.
The largest issue with the game is the only way to kill the soldiers is via stealth kills. The Aragami must get close enough to hit a button and it starts an animation that cannot be canceled, and can take around a second. That might not seem like much time, however, if you are spotted the soldiers pull out their swords and throw a beam of light at the Aragami that kills it in one hit. Even after it has been spotted, the only way to kill soldiers is via stealth kill. In most other stealth games like this one, players have an option to engage in combat, instead of just doing stealth kills. This is a disappointment and feels like an opportunity missed.
The game is pretty; it reminds me a lot of Okami with the use of an almost painted art style. The colors, especially on the cloak are vibrant and the lighting is well done. Don’t expect a level of graphics along the lines of Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, the game looks much better than most budget titles. The music works out rather well and fits the theme quite nicely. The biggest complaint, at least on the PlayStation 4 version, is the slowdown. For a game that looks like this, it shouldn’t push the system that hard, there is a lot of slowdown in the game and that is disappointing.
Overall Aragami is a pretty game with a few missteps that could have really made the game great. The shadow manipulation is really fun, and the puzzles to try and figure out how to get through each stage without being seen is very challenging. But the game really misses steps when they could have included combat, instead of just stealth kills.