Developer: Elden Pixels
Publisher: Elden Pixels
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I am a bit of a sucker for nostalgic retro games and as soon as I saw this, I couldn’t resist. I just enjoy playing retro games and yes I know there is a lot of them right now so it’s hard to separate the good from the bad but I’m here to personally help in that mission! So, here we go. You start the game with a small cut scene and it all seems a little fairytale but that is fine by me. The beautiful place Alwa is experiencing a wonderful, peaceful and prosperous time but then that is ruined when a mysterious villain named Vicar turns up and enslaves everyone just because he can. Like I said, it’s all very fairytale.
Vicar then forms a group of four enforcers called protectors to claim ornaments that will grant immense power. All seems lost but then a quiet heroine named Zoe arrives with nothing but her magical staff to stave off Vicar and his underlings. This is when you begin your adventure.
Platforming and puzzles
These sort of games obviously lack the budget for big production and rely heavily on the gameplay so the gameplay has to be pretty tight for it to stand out from the mass of retro games. This game for me, stands out.
Alwa’s Awakening plays as a tricky platformer and despite there being plenty of enemies to dispatch with your magical staff, there is a heavy focus on environmental puzzles and sometimes difficult platforming sections. For me, this is great, who doesn’t love a good challenge, you don’t want it to be too easy, do you?
It follows the same principles of most games of this ilk but the difference here is that Elden Pixels do it well. You will traverse through the rooms and slay enemies but not everywhere is reachable right away and you can’t unlock doors or sections until you unlock certain abilities for your magical staff so there will be some back-pedalling to do. One ability is to produce a green block which doesn’t sound great on paper but it does aid your progress. You will also unlock the ability to produce a bubble which once you hop on will rise and take you to earlier inaccessible areas of the level.
Once I began this game, I was instantly reminded of Castlevania and this is a plus point, it is a solid game to use as a model. Saying that, this game would fall into the new sub genre ‘Metroidvania’ which as it suggests, it plays out as a blend of Metroid Prime and Castlevania.
Like I previously touched on, the format is familiar and isn’t anything original but it is a well trodden formula done well. There is plenty of rooms, bosses to beat, warps to well…warp with and lots of secrets to find with some tantalising and difficult platforming needed to complete. There is also save rooms but this is a bit of a sticking point…they aren’t great. Let me explain. So, you’ll have a save room and you proceed to save it. Great, your mind can rest. But then another save point is waiting for you after seven tough rooms in which you die before reaching. What happens? You go back to your original save, that’s what and it frustrates you a little. There is checkpoints every so often, for instance, before a boss battle but they are not spread evenly and you can often get killed in between these places and have to go back to, what feels like square one. It’s only minor but it got to be a little frustrating. Perhaps I should have been better at staying alive.
Sorry, another gripe whilst I’m on them and that is the map that you get to use. In short, the grid-like map doesn’t really give you much information and essentially doesn’t work as a map. It was hard to tell where to go next as well as being hard to tell where the previous inaccessible areas were or perhaps collectibles you missed. Again though, this is minor and didn’t interrupt my overall feel for the game.
This was one thing I was glad about, its catchy soundtrack. I guess I was expecting a repetitive tune on a loop but it is actually done nicely. There is ominous and gloomy tunes which certainly set the tone for the harder parts of the game and there is also catchy tunes for other parts of the game. It all fits in perfectly with the tone of the game.
All in all it is a well-rounded game and it is most definitely a standout performer compared to the other retro titles available.
Check out below for the trailer of Alwa’s Awakening below: