Movie Review: Aftermath, 2021 - ★★★★½
Previous Take On The Ridden in Back 4 Blood – First Impressions
Hello, everyone! Today I’m tackling an interesting game that is a good mix of Metroid fusion, and Dead Cells.
The rules for this challenge were simple:
I couldn’t look anything up or preview the game at all
I had 1 hour to get as far into the game as I could
The goal was to simply give me the best look at the game before I could grow attached. I think it’s pretty easy to let small things slide once you get a few hours into a game. We have all played a game or two that had a pretty frustrating mechanic that, by the end of the experience became a “quirky signature” of the game (looking at you Code Vein). But, we will go over Greak’s special frustration later.
The game starts off full force showing off what amazing art styles can do for a game. Not only does it have beautiful still set pieces and a character design that could make Sakurai feel challenged, but it also has amazing cinematography. I was a little disappointed by how much world-building was done before I could run around in the world, but I’m sure that future fans are going to dive into it with Tolkienesque awe.
Five minutes into the game, I had full control over my spiky hair avatar, and like a true Metroidvania-raised adventurer, I spat in the face of game flow trying to stick me on the left side of the screen sprawling images to my right and slammed my face into the barrier going left. The little hero on screen darted to and fro effortlessly and as I pressed every button like a first-time Tekkon player. I was satisfied with how responsive everything was. I swear, I could probably wave dashed easier in this game than Melee. Unfortunately, like most fighting games, I have no idea what kind of player would feel comfortable with the default settings at work there.
Difficult default controls were easy to fix, though. I opened up the settings and found my first love-hate relationship with this game. And, it’s twins.
Let’s start with the answer that presented itself before the problem: The Bow has 20 arrows and a cure for feeling scared in the new world I was gifted with. I let loose an arrow into the air, watched its arc, and realized I then had full 180-degree coverage with one weapon. I let loose 3 more arrows, practicing my archery before I even leave the spawning platform. Now, the observant will realize why I was stupid, but don’t worry, as I went to try and pick up my obvious arrows lying around me, I did too. Okay. So the ammo is limited and I can’t pick it up. I figure that I haven’t made any progress, so I might as well reset.
Take two and I have full ammo and my controls set proper. The first things to greet me are some slimes and a jumpy panther from hell. Snicker snap and I swing my weapon. There is a slight stun to the enemies when it connects that allows me to dash back or dodge, which is very appreciated because if you don’t abuse stun locking your enemies’ melee combat becomes miserable. But as soon as I start to realize that I really dislike this melee combat, I find my sister who can cast spells on a recharge system.
Not only is my sister superior at combat, but she also can Princess Peach float instead of double jumping. Now before I go on about how amazing my sister is, I have to take a second to be petty. You have to hold down a button to have your sibling follow you and mimic your jumps or else you leave them behind. This has to be the most uncomfortable and stupid game design choice I have ever experienced in what appears to be a core mechanic. Luckily for the player, the devs must have some level of clairvoyance because in the options there is an option to make the mimic function toggleable. I don’t want to undersell my appreciation for that, but why in the world is this a secondary option? Who wants to crab claw the controller so they don’t leave behind a character (who while not being controlled will take damage)?
Rant over, back to the better child. Enjoy her while it lasts because she exists to tease you about what’s available and what’s at stake. Honestly, I was met with disappointment and frustration when you lose your sister again. After taking a step back though the game is really smart for showing you how amazing the siblings can be before ripping it away. Nothing makes me want to explore more in a game than the promise of possible upgrades. That is what the sister is, a Master sword that you get to master and then gets knocked away to an unknown destination. I see you, game, let’s get in there and explore!
Exploration goes pretty smoothly, and with how fast the switch saves games it doesn’t feel like I’m punished for wanting to save before I take on a stupid fight. It is in the first biome where most of the training wheels are taken off that I learn I have two things I hate about the terrain of all things. The first thing is something that had to come up in testing and I honestly don’t know how hard it would be to fix. Whenever you jump towards a wall you start a wall slide that allows you to wall jump. The characters seem to snap to the wall and that creates a super responsive jump which can probably result in some frame-perfect jumps that will most likely be exploited for a speed run. BUT, if you jump next to a slightly large rock you also get snapped on, which starts a slide. So, creators help you if you try to jump in or out of combat and you are too close to a wall because you aren’t going anywhere until you fight with the wall climb mechanic and prove patient enough to slide down a 2-inch barrier and walk away before trying again.
The second exploration hindrance is how easy your character drowns. We are talking about sega Sonic levels of lung control. It is possible that I haven’t found a random item that will enable longer water exploration so I wouldn’t put too much stock in this frustration, but since I wasn’t able to find a way to do so in the first hour, it’s a fair critique. Equally as fair, is that the font on the handheld mode of the switch is near impossible to decipher.
Overall, this game is a wonderful addition to the scene. Its bright environment and responsive controls will make it at home in the collections of anyone who owns Cave Story or Minoria. In the first hour, there are so many small details of love crafted into it that I’m sure I will see more as I return to the game on my own time. For crying out loud the devs made it so slimes can seamlessly crawl on any surface as if they belonged on them, and the animation for it is clean as a polished sword strike. I may just be a sucker for slime creatures, but if you treat the goomba of your game with that much respect, then your project has to be oozing love, joy, and dedication.
Navegante Entertainment and Team 17, I look forward to playing more of your works.