Aragami 2 | Preview, killer shadows

Aragami 2 | Preview, killer shadows

Aragami 2 | Preview

You miss the good old Tenchu-style stealth game a little bit, don't you? The Spanish developer Lince Works knows this well and since 2016, with the first Aragami, he tries to capture us with a fantasy feudal Japan where two opposing forces, represented by light and shadow, continue to face each other. The first chapter of Aragami was a quietly born title but managed to sell well in the long run, weak in some respects, but strong in its stealth gameplay based on the use of powers linked to shadows.

The success of the original work obviously led to the creation of a sequel that promises to be more complete and complex. Aragami 2 was supposed to see the light in early 2021, but some delays prompted developers to move the launch date to September 17 of the current year. The title will be available on Game Pass from day one and can be recovered on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

We got our hands on the computer version of this second Aragami and we deduced how the game in question has a lot of potential but at the same time still needs some adjustments. The first chapter sinned above all from the point of view of the plot, which appeared more in the form of contextualization than of narration as such. In Aragami 2 there is a real story told by a mix of cut scenes and dialogues.

We were not very convinced by the quality of the tale which is basically the usual collection of clichés relating to oppressor tyrants and oppressed rebels. But the main problem is not the content, it is the way the story is told that is, at least at the beginning, too simplistic and overheard. In reality, to understand the details of the story well, it is necessary to read the dedicated insights on the developer's website.

The facts of Aragami 2 take place in a distant period from those seen in the first chapter. The Aragami are elite warriors struck by a supernatural disease that gradually corrupts soul, body and mind, but which at the same time gives them the incredible power to control the shadows. Our protagonist, who has joined the Kurotsuba clan, pursues the mission of freeing his people from the tyranny of the Akatsuchi empire that is subjugating the Rashomon Valley.

In the role of the ninja of shadows

Starting from these premises, let's get to the heart of the real game. It starts with a tutorial necessary to become familiar with the articulated gameplay, evidently the strong point of this production. You will soon realize that you can move like a real ninja. You can run, jump, teleport as a shadow between roofs and ledges, you can climb, crouch and score spectacular kills differentiated according to the context.

Then you will have access to your village, a quiet place to explore without worries of mind. Here you can practice ninja moves, you will have access to a skill tree and a forge. The last two features represent new features for the brand: in the first case it will be possible to customize your competence with the powers of the shadow, very useful for getting around the guards in a tactical way, choosing the style that best suits your way of playing, in the second On the other hand, it will be possible to customize the character's equipment both from an aesthetic point of view, which is extremely useful in view of multiplayer, and from the point of view of bonuses and malus, attributed by peculiar magical runes.

The village is therefore be a real hub from which it will also be possible to select the next mission. Each player's expedition has different objectives such as collecting items, finding crates or eliminating certain characters. Each level looks like a small ninja playground, open enough to allow different interpretations and significantly improved in design compared to the first episode. You can cross the setting by crawling in the tall grass or you will have the opportunity to jump between the roofs. You can save your opponents by making use of all the stealth techniques available or you can expose yourself briefly by performing lethal kills and then return to your safe hideout. The possibilities are numerous.

What is most surprising, however, is the fluidity of movement that is granted to the player, which allows for exceptional combos, with the protagonist jumping, teleporting and killing without interruption. The use of shadows seems to have become much more dynamic than the original work and now it will even be possible to transport corpses and face real fights once discovered. Obviously, lashing out at enemies openly is strongly discouraged because the opponents will easily win, especially if in numerical superiority. The combat system, however, seemed to us quite simplistic with hits and parries to bring at the right time and a stamina bar to keep under control.

Great space is left for tactics thanks to a particular vision of the character that allows you to identify enemies in the environment. The developers also encourage you to explore locations, having scattered money, equipment plans and other useful items in the levels. At the end of each mission, we will find, very stimulating, a score that will evaluate our ability taking into account the conduct and many other factors.

To accompany us in our raids there will then be some beautiful salsa melodies Japanese times now to keep us on our toes, while we move silently, now to give us the right energy, in the most action-packed moments. The sound effects are nice and well characterized and even the dubbing in English can be heard and luckily, also because it seems that we will not have subtitles in our language.

Lights and ... shadows

The weakest aspect of the work, however, seems to be the graphics. Developed with Unity, Aragami 2 seems to partially abandon the cartoon cel shading style of the first episode to leave room for a more realistic and clean style. Although the product is good in terms of design, one cannot therefore help but notice how the environments are more flat and bare than in the past. The UI has also changed: if in the first Aragami a lot of information could be recovered from the protagonist's cloak, now there are real indicators and energy bars. Let's not judge this last aspect, it is a choice that you may like or not like.

However, we see how the one we have in our hands is a still incomplete version of the game, scattered as it is with small glitches. Sometimes, for example, we happened to find holes in the map, we then realized how there are problems in interpreting environmental elements, some of which, such as fences or walls, allow you to climb and hide with precision while others, such as rocks , give rise to uncertain and revisable collisions.

We realize that in certain points of the level it is not possible to climb as we would like due to an oblique protrusion or because of a higher rope that strangely blocks our movements. There are interpenetrations and we have also happened to not be able to kill a fundamental enemy. It happens to get stuck or to see an opponent splashing away during an execution. Then one thing that did not convince us very much lies in the animations used for aerial kills: instead of knocking down the opponent from above by knocking him down, which would have been much more exciting, the Aragami first leans on the ground sliding against the opponent and then inflicts the blow.

Artificial intelligence, although it does its job well, is not so advanced: it is true that there is a state of alert but it is also true that a few jumps and a good hiding place will be enough to do it in defiance of the soldiers. Beyond these elements that will most likely be fixed in the full version of the title, Aragami 2 remains an exciting video game that offers a good level of challenge. This at least in single, because there will be the possibility to face the maps in cooperative multiplayer in the company of two other Aragami friends. The fear lies in the fact that faced in this way the game may be too easy but we'll see.

An element that however increases the general difficulty level and which is perhaps too punitive is represented by the choice of the developers to restart all over again one level in case of death. This means that not only will the enemies be reset but that all the collected objects will also be lost, which is quite unnerving especially in the more advanced missions of the title. Hoping that some elements will be filed down in time for launch, we can't wait to return to the role of the ninja of shadows in the full version of Aragami 2, at least to enjoy the solid gameplay of the Lince Works videogame.

Did Aragami 2 intrigue you? So why not retrieve the first chapter on PlayStation 4?

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