Live in the shadows.
Stealth games are bad ass, at least I find most of them pretty fun even if we don’t have a ton of them these days. So I’m always willing to give a stealth game a chance. Aragami is something I never heard of until it landed on my desk. I can say it’s interesting, fun, and visually comes out on top with its style, but there is a huge issue going into the PS4 version that players will need to know before parting with their cash for the experience.
Stealth like you mean it
A spirit has been summoned by a trapped woman. She needs help to escape her imprisonment, and in order to do so, talismans need to be retrieved to break the seal and save her. It sounds like a very typical rescue mission story, and it mostly is. Though the conversations that play out between her and Aragami bring a bit more depth to it and mystery on her character and the spirit being played. With their voice being portrayed in their own garbled language, much like Ico, the relationship begins to develop between them, and I highly enjoyed learning more and more about them.
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
How long to beat: 6 hours
Story aside, Aragami is a stealth game all the way. There is no traditional combat aside from stealth kills. If found, the player will need to hide, lest they get destroyed by the enemies of light or hope they can hit the kill button before they get an attack off. Aragami plays with the idea of shadows intensely, and players can regain power in the darkness. Using the cape as a way to gauge how much energy is left, it’s a fine balance of staying in the dark, avoiding light, which drains energy, and sneaking past as much as possible. Killing is optional, as each mission has bonus score perks for doing various requirements.
The levels themselves give way to utilizing all these abilities quite well, as most are large, have very open areas to explore, and multiple ways to progress. One of the powers at hand is the ability to warp to other shadows, which leads to a very Dishonored-like ability of instantly traversing to other spots. It’s fun and one of the best elements Aragami has going for it. No shadows? Use some of your energy to create one, warp there, and hide, kill, or explore more. Exploration is also advantageous to the player as items can be found that give out skill points to upgrade abilities even more.
Ninja Fun, Ninja Dim Sum
Aragami has a great visual cell shaded style to it, with some nice animations and a generally colorful look that absolutely pops on screen. Sadly, this is also where is has its biggest downfall. System performance on PS4 is rather noticeable and downright bad at times. Yes, players have the option of enabling Vsynch, or changing the FOV. Yet regardless of those changes, there is lots of stutter and slowdown throughout the experience, which in this case totally brings it down. Turning off Vsynch leads to tons of screen tearing and sometimes better performance, but even with that, it’s still not smooth. Another point of concern is checkpoints. Levels can be rather large and sometimes failing, which occurs in one hit, will lead players far back having to redo lots of work. It’s unfortunate and leads way to a ton of frustration in combination with the performance issues. That combined with stealth kills that sometimes leave players vulnerable for far too long, only to be killed before control can be regained, just feels cheap.
Shadows not included
Aragami is an experience that I found mostly enjoyable with its gameplay quirks, and almost nailed it fully. Its biggest deterrent is the performance on PS4, which just isn’t good. There are times it runs decent, but throughout the various chapters there are problems that continue to crop up, which pulled me out of the experience. Platforming and stealth via shadow warping is fantastic, and doing a complete level in stealth is as rewarding as it’s been in other games. Aragami just needed to run smoother and the experience would have been one stealth fans shouldn’t miss. As it remains, it’s one that needs some serious consideration with its major flaw.
Favorite moment: Shadow hoping and finishing a level completely in the shadows felt amazing.
Worst moment: The performance in each level ranges wildly and it unsteady at best.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.