Genre: Action-Adventure, Stealth
Publisher: Lince Works, Merge games
Developer: Lince Works
Platforms: Windows, Linux, PS4, OSX
Modes: Single Player or Coop Campaign
I have fond memories of stealth games, or simply choosing the stealthy option in games such as Skyrim and Far Cry, I even refused to play the Witcher series simply because you couldn’t really stealth. Though the greatest of all stealth games in my view was Tenchu, playing Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins on the PS1 and Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven on the PS2, lately I have had the good fortune to be gifted an Xbox 360 from a friend and now have the ability to play Tenchu Z though It’s not exactly of the quality of the previous games I’ve mentioned it’s at least something.
|It is I, the Aragami|
|Yamiko as she appears in one of the graphic novel cutscenes|
|Yamiko in the game world, she appears and dissapears at will, often just speaking in your head.|
I achieve the highest rank 'S' in the first level by complete stealth, this was the only level I was able to manage it XD
Moving near any light sources drain your shadow energy so it’s no wonder enemies walk around or near them to make it more difficult for you to get past, the ‘Kaiho’ soldiers have light embued weapons and if you do get spotted they can kill you with one hit, so usually when spotted I often just give up and start again from the quicksave if I can’t get away in time. There are only a few variations of enemies, there are the basic light-sword wielding enemies (who also have a medium range light-beam slash) and then there are the archers who aim beams of light as if they were snipers, shooting a ball of light in a location if they detect something. These balls of light act like mines and can kill you if you stray too close and be found more frequently in the later levels, blocking off paths and forcing you to shadow leap through them or take a different path. some enemies actually walk around with these ball of light surrounding them making them difficult to stealth kill.
|Archers were particularly dangerous if not taken out first|
|Ares like this required careful planning and tagging of enemies (if you had the ability) to see their movement around obstacles, especially if you were doing a complete stealth run without eliminating any enemies.|
Here I try out a custom map and use a few shadow abilities, I also try out the map editor
I tried to play this one the usual way I play Tenchu, lots of stealth killing, minimal weapon/item use but I quickly found that it was actually more encouraged to go complete stealth though it was harder. There were a few bonuses including not dying and respawning, not alerting enemies and complete stealth and I’ve actually just learned now that you cannot obtain the highest “S” rank if you kill any enemies. I thought this was a bit annoying but it’s ok I guess as it’s much harder to stealth through the level avoiding the enemies instead of eliminating them as you go, I did still get a good score by defeating every enemy but I guess that’s still not the point. This is a good change as historically with the Tenchu series it didn’t seem to matter how many times you were spotted as long as you did enough stealth kills to bump your score up so you got Grand Master every time.
Like Tenchu also I found myself getting too
impatient and getting caught out leading to some bad scores, sometimes I tried
to avoid but the amount of enemies in a level was quite large some places it
seemed almost impossible to get past without getting rid of at least one enemy.
As you progressed it got harder leading to more mistakes, you start of the
first few level being very careful then after the 6th level you just
want to get through it as your objectives don’t really change, each level
involves getting from one place to another without being spotted or dying and
involves stealthing or killing enemies and also clearing “force fields” that
block your way by finding the orbs of light that generate them. There’s only 12
levels but it did get slightly repetitive.
Probably the best
thing about the game is the graphics, the cel-shaded loveliness of this game is
amazing, not to mention the beautifully drawn comic-style cutscenes. Unlike
games which are trying to be photorealistic and end up overdoing it sometimes
the visuals are sharp and just flows and I’m going to stop before I sound like
an artistic wanker. There’s not exactly much colour in the visuals as the game
takes place over one (very long) night but it’s anything but dark, the moon is
always out and shining bright enough to cast moonshadows everywhere (which you
need) and the enemies are champions of the light so there’s candles and
lanterns and fires and glowing swords and bows and orbs all over the place all
of which makes a very bright night, of course if it was an incredibly dark
clouded-over night then the game would be too easy wouldn’t it? You progress
though several different areas, including, graveyards, towns, forests, lakes,
castles and temples and I noticed the colour hue of the visuals change, from
blue in the graveyards to green in the forest for example.
character was well detailed the enemies I loved the effects of the shadow
abilities and just the way you and your cape shimmers in the darkness and light
and I could probably say this is my favourite cel-shaded game, though I haven’t
played much apart from Katamari Forever which I didn’t really
like with that sort of graphical style. As for the music and sound it’s fitting
of the subject material, I was impressed with the way the voice acting was all
in Japanese as this definitely wasn’t the case in Tenchu though having all
Japanese voice acting did make the storyline sound a bit dull as everything had
this sort of formal tone to it. There isn’t much music but when there is it’s
appropriate, it’s more like ambient sounds then the occasional spasm of music,
no that doesn’t sound right, tremor of music? Anyway it really did sound
like a game set in Japan and the haunting sound effects and Japanese cultural
themed soundtrack was great.
|Got spotted way too many times here.|
|Chapter VI: Mausoleum of the Fallen was a difficult one, it was like a huge museum filled with light and archers and guards everywhere and made movement difficult, ended up trying to kill everything and got a horrible score.|
|The game had this beautful haunting feel, this shot is mostly dark but I think it looks really good.|
|One of my favourite places to hide heh especially good for listening to enemies conversations, I was impressed that they did have Japanese voice actors.|
Aragami also has a two-player co-op mode which is pretty cool as you don’t see it much anymore, though I’ve yet to try it, I’ve seen it in action in some videos and like the Sniper Elite games doing stealth co-op requires some practice, probably even more so as you’re relatively close to the enemy. There is also a fairly detailed level editor, which harks me back to the days of messing around with the Tenchu 2 level editor though I’m not sure if this one is more detailed but it certainly is polished with the items you set on the ground coming falling down and bouncing onto the ground with a satisfying ‘plunk’ I’ve played some (quite hard) user-created missions with it and yes I’m proud to say someone has attempted to remake one of the most famous Tenchu missions though not correctly as it’s rock hard, and then there are your usual experimental challenge levels where you have to get from one side to another alive. I didn’t spend too much time with the editor as I didn’t have any big plans for it though If I really wanted to I could re-create a Tenchu 3 mission though that would require a lot of screenshots which I can’t get on the PS3 and screenshotting a youtube video would just take too long and be too annoying.
Here I try out several fan-made levels and also make an experimental archer-infested custom map
Overall Aragami is one of those games that I almost love/hate to play similar to L. A. Noire, Katamari Forever and of course Tenchu. I wanted to do so well but ended up getting impatient and not doing well enough though this could be down to the fact that I wanted to play it just like I did Tenchu with my “weapons and abilities are for the weak” mindset where I try to stealth kill everything and everyone which of course always seems to end up with me being spotted multiple times. But this always comes down to how the game is scored which is different from the Tenchu games where as I’ve said before this one is focused on stealth as a necessity for survival rather than a way of making things easier for yourself.
When you were spotted in Tenchu you had
more than enough health points, combat abilities and even armor in some cases
to be a force to be reckoned with, especially Tenchu Z which has so many combat
moves you can unlock though there’s only 2 boss fights in the entire game.
Aragami Is a stealth game very much based in the mystical ancient world, you
aren’t a Ninja in the traditional aspect, you’re a creature of shadow and all
of this is fine, I’m just glad stealth games are still being made. And what's more I hear there's a prequel expansion in the works..
|Well, I've really messed things up now.|
Things I liked:
Genuine Stealth game
Excellent Cel-shaded visuals
Smooth Liquidy animation
Things I didn’t like:
Very fragile protagonist
Lack of objective variety in levels
Too much reliance on shadow abilities
Aragami release trailer
Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow…