Aaru’s Awakening (PC)
Aaru’s Awakening initially attracted me because of it’s cool name. I guess there’s just something about the use of the word “Awakening” that seems awesome to me. Thankfully, my devotion to sweet names was rewarded with this title from Lumenox Games.
Aaru’s Awakening is a 2D platformer with minimal in-game mechanics, an interesting storyline and stunning visuals. You play as Aaru, a beast that serves Dawn, one of the four brothers who, once upon a time, constantly fought for control of the day. The brothers Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night once waged a chaotic war that ravaged and disrupted the face of the world beyond recognition. The Deities eventually grew tired of the constant bickering, and enforced a rota upon the brothers. But Dawn wasn’t too pleased by the arrangement, and kept a servant from the war: the titular Aaru. Awoken by Dawn when he senses that his brother Night was up to no good, it’s up to you to travel through the domains of Dawn’s siblings and see what’s what. The story is told in between domains, with a child narrating the events. It’s well written, and the voice actor does a great job of narrating. While the story sections are short, fairly infrequent and ultimately irrelevant to the game itself, I found them entertaining enough to pay attention to.
I mentioned earlier that Aaru’s Awakening has minimal in-game mechanics. You control Aaru with the standard WASD keys, and can use Space to Charge, which caused Aaru to dash forwards and break certain types of terrain in front of you. Most importantly, however, is Aaru’s ability to Teleport. You fire an orb towards your cursor with a left-click, and right-clicking causes Aaru to teleport to where the orb is. The teleportation is the game’s entire core. It’s what sets Aaru’s Awakening apart from pretty much every platformer I’ve ever played. It feels unusual at first, but it’s so easy to learn how to use it that you get used to firing and warping in the middle of jumps. It’s also your only means of killing the few enemies that populate the domains; if you teleport in to an enemy, you kill them.
The levels are well designed, and the visuals are beautiful. The background and terrain of each domain is completely distinct, from the endless, sunlit, craggy plains of Day to the eerie, surreal swamps of Night. Like any platformer, the levels gets steadily harder as you progress, and Aaru’s awakening achieves this by adding more interesting obstacles and monsters.
Aaru’s Awakening has one flaw; It’s quite short. If you know how to play the game, you can run through the ‘story’ in no time at all, but Lumenox were obviously aware of this. They implemented a Medal system, where you get a better medal depending on how quickly you clear each level. You can also turn on a timer, so you can see how you’re getting on while playing. And, for true replay value, there’s a “Hardcore” mode.
With a stunning hand-drawn art style, a well-told story and a gripping core mechanic, Aaru’s Awakening is a solid, engaging and incredible rewarding platformer. It’s always challenging, but never unfair. It’s length can be an issue if you’re the type of player who finishes a game once and then leaves it. But if you enjoy replaying, finding the mastery of a gratifying gameplay mechanic, and pushing your ability to improve at a game, Aaru’s Awakening is definitely worth you’re attention. If you’re not that type of player, it’s still worth grabbing in a bundle or sale.
8 teleportation orbs out of 10