REVIEW: ‘Aragami’ Takes Players on a Moonlight Adventure (Switch)

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Aragami

Justice and righteousness are powerful beliefs and can pierce even the darkest of times with its brutish might and divine light. When injustice occurs in the shadows, the shadows will be the very weapons in which to deliver justice. A lone shadow warrior has awakened under the moonlit sky. Armed with a feeling, limited memories, and his blade, he will move with great speed, haste, and stealth to set what is right. This is Aragami by Lince Works Studios. In the spirit of classic stealth action games, Aragami is an absolutely wonderful and solidly challenging stealth experience that place players into a wonderful moonlight adventure.

Players play as the shadow assassin, unearthed from the land. Bathed in moonlight, the Aragami is given form, substance, and special powers. Who this warrior was is unknown but a spectral phantom appears before him, materializing as a young woman named Yamiko. Yamiko has resurrected this deceased soul as an assassin. He must free her from the clutches of an evil army using his special powers. However, as he is now bound as a creature of the night, the light will instantly destroy him. This woman may hold the truth as to who he is and what happened to him. He must complete his mission before sunrise or risk disappearing forever.

In Aragami, players will see themselves navigate large, expansive levels in an ancient land that find a balance between nature and people. From ancient temples to armed fortress to lush forests illuminated in the moonlight, players can expect to have varied playthroughs, where each environment will require players to think strategically and stealthily. As an Aragami, players will be bestowed with special powers, able to allow players to move swiftly throughout the stage. From teleportation to barrel attacks to summoning monsters, players will be able to wield an assortment of weapons and special powers to complete their mission.

Artistically, the game is incredibly elegant, using cel-shaded graphics, as well as a wide array of lighting and shadows. The entire game takes place at night, giving Aragami an incredibly distinct and keen style. Where most stealth games use a generic black background to emphasize nighttime atmosphere, Aragami goes many steps further with the moonlight illuminating and penetrating the environment, peering through the forest canopy and the window openings of temples. Additionally, Aragami sports an incredible soundtrack by music duo Two Feathers. The music feels traditional and natural, with music inspired by traditional Japanese instrumentals and themes.

Playing Aragami is absolutely astounding, providing a combination of thrills, intensity, and challenge that players will not encounter elsewhere.  With wide levels, the game allows for plenty of tactical flexibility, giving players the opportunity to wisely select their targets and utilize the necessary powers to dispatch enemies. Initially, players will be getting up close and using their katana to dispatch soldiers but further along the game players will be able to use long-range assassination weapons and special shadow powers such as teleportation.

In Aragami the shadows are everything. Players will eventually be able to use teleportation to leap amongst points of darkness and even consume deceased bodies with the shadows to conceal any trace that you were ever there. My personal favorite power is laying “black-hole” traps, where an unsuspecting soldier walks upon a hidden circle and triggers a trap in which monsters emerge from the nether realms, wrangling the soldier, and bringing it to a terrifying end.

Steal action boils down to feeling like an elite, one-man badass in the shadows, and Aragami greatly succeeds in making the player feel so.  It’s quite rewarding to clear an entire level of well-trained soldiers without a single one even noticing you were ever there.  Also, it is worth adding  there is an evaluation at the end of each stage indicating your score for kills, detection, time spent, and so on.

However, the enemy will not be easy to tackle. Enemy soldiers have been imbued with the power of light. Additionally, the land is bathed in moonlight and the enemy has placed torches along the paths. The Aragami has become a creature of the night. Standing next to an open flame will severely weaken the Aragami and reduce the amount of energy that can be used to expend powers. Additionally, as the enemy is imbued with divine light, detection from the enemy will be fatal.

While players can quickly leap out of danger, once they are spotted, directly fighting the enemy one-on-one is not recommended. If you are fortunate, you will have a very brief moment to slay an enemy moment before fully detecting you, but once you are spotted, the enemy will attack. If you evade, surrounding enemies will go on high alert. One blast of the divine light will completely disintegrate the Aragami. This is made even more dangerous when more dangerous enemies, including archers, are introduced later in the game.

Perhaps my only gripe with Aragami is that there are no boss fights, save for one massive fight that serves as the game’s climax. Additionally, I would have liked to have seen more shadow-based powers, such as shape-shifting or utilizing glaives. However, Aragami is still a remarkably impressive game, filled with enthusiasm and passion from its entire team. The story is fascinating, emotional, fulfilling, and self-aware at the right moments, as players will pick up smalls nods to other fandoms, such as Star Wars. The combat is deep and immersive with plenty of choice and opportunity for those thinking wisely about their next move.

I highly recommend Aragami to players of all backgrounds, especially those looking for a focus on stealth-action, a rare appearance given the retirement of Metal Gear Solid and the dormancy of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell.  It’s tight and polished focus on traditional stealth-action and the whimsical tale is a sight to behold in a game arena surrounded by colorful character shooters and grim dystopias.

Aragami is out now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox

Aragami
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL; DR

Aragami is still a remarkably impressive game, filled with enthusiasm and passion from its entire team. The story is fascinating, emotional, fulfilling, and self-aware at the right moments, as players will pick up smalls nods to other fandoms, such as Star Wars.