The original Aragami released in October 2016 but since then developer Lince Works has added more content in the form of Aragami Nightfall which comes as a DLC extra for those who already own the base game. For anyone else who doesn’t own either game can now purchase the Aragami: Shadow Edition which includes the base game and the Nightfall DLC in one neat package. With an eclectic mix of stealth and action based gameplay is Aragami worth the look in?
Without separating the two packages too much, Aragami offers some neat stealth gameplay, where the key mechanic is moving and teleporting within the shadows avoiding the patrolling guards. If spotted then they will investigate, and attack usually resulting in an insta-death. If you manage to garner some attention but sneak away then they will become alert and call in reinforcements. It’s a tough campaign for those who ignore the sneaking but rewarding if you can bypass the temptation to go loud.
In the base game you play as a vengeful spirit named Aragami with the power to control the shadows enabling you to move efficiently between them. You have been summoned by Yamiko, a girl imprisoned in the city fortress of Kyuryu. In the Nightfall portion of the experience, you can actually play as a male or female character (shadow assassins Hyo and Shinobu) with similar shadow powers to Aragami, that enables you to dart from one dark space to another . But, it has to be said, Nightfall is a prequel to the base game and aside from being a lot tougher, should only be played after the main game has been bested for fear of story related spoilers. So, in the base game your job is to follow Yamiko’s will and take out any opposition along the way – although that is entirely optional. Aragami, and its DLC companion Nightfall offers open areas to traverse whereby you can pick and choose your routes through the levels. That is not to say all levels or areas are open, some can be quite confined. However, there is choice in what you can do and at the end of each mission you will be ranked based on various stats such as whether you were spotted, how many stealth kills etc. What is perhaps more challenging for purists is being able to sneak through each area without being detected or killing anyone. Luckily you have various tools to aid in this but it’s not easy. As mentioned, those guards don’t mess about and will kill you should you linger too long in their vision or path. Sadly, some of the checkpoints can be quite spaced apart and if you do get “busted” then replaying long sections can happen depending on where you were killed. This can be a little disheartening at times.
The main mechanic of both games is sitting in the shadows, building up your shadow essence (represented by a dark pattern on your clothing) and then highlighting where you want to shadow-leap to next before committing. It’s a solid system when it works, but quite often is let down by being somewhat restrictive. On many occasions you might see an anchor point but the cursor does not register and will sometimes flicker on and off the point where you wish to go. It’s rather inconsistent which is a bit of a downer for a sneaky ninja character. The problem arises also in the Nightfall DLC where the only way to counter it is to make sure you are fully in range before you attempt to leap. In this regard, the range could have been increased slightly, although it does look like a balancing act to make the game more challenging for the player. At the end of the day, Aragami is still very fun to play and with a variety of special moves and upgrades available means that you can become quite the formidable stealth agent.
In terms of visuals, both games present bold visuals with excellent colours and a neat anime art style that works well. The game runs very smoothly, but pop-in can be an issue in the more open areas which is a little jarring. Audio is also of a high standard with a great soundtrack and authentic voice overs in their native Japanese although this does mean having to read subtitles which might not be to everyone’s tastes.
The new Nightfall adds four new missions to the experience which means all-in there is enough content here to keep you well hooked for some hours into double figures. However, it’s the inclusion of co-op multiplayer that is most welcome and the option to custom build your own levels adding much longevity to the experience once the stories have been bested.
Aragami Shadow Edition comes complete after four years in the making and has to be commended as Lince Works are a small development team. If you like stealth games then this is well worth checking out despite some niggles here and there. Cool visuals, neat and satisfying gameplay and an engaging story to tie it all together.