Aggelos (Switch) Review
Release Date: April 25, 2019
Publishers/Developers: Pqube/LookAtMyGame/Storybird Games/Wonderboy Bobi
Platform: Steam (previous release), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch (Reviewed)
Take a healthy portion of Zelda II, add a dollop of MetroidVania, and an art style reminiscent of Mega Man with plenty of love for the 8 and 16 bit ages of video gaming, and you get Aggelos, a game that’s been out on Steam for a while but has recently made it’s way to home consoles. (I read it’s very reminiscent of Monster Boy, which I’ve never played, so there’s another descriptor with high pedigree.) With a budget price and an indie mindset, this title gives you all the sprawling adventure you were used to in old-school action RPGs without the bloat found in modern games, providing you a lengthy tale you shouldn’t get lost on your way though on.
The story is typical classic RPG fare, an evil is besetting the land due to Bad Guy hunting for power, and it’s up to our protagonist to stop it. Along the way, he’ll visit elemental dungeons, participate in a Fetch Quest Chain, and win the heart of a princess. While this seems to be the basic wash-rinse-repeat of classic RPG storylines, a lot of love has been put into Aggelos to make it a title worth your time.
Zelda II came to mind immediately upon learning one of my first new moves, the downward thrust. After struggling repeatedly to get past basic enemies, the downward thrust let me pounce on their weak points for maximum damage. These MetroidVania boosts keep happening as you progress, making unbearable sections of the game more manageable. There were points where I could barely make a jump, requiring pixel-perfect navigation edge-to-edge with dire consequences of falling back down several levels and having to start over again. Passing the challenge would net me a new ability, such as an upward thrust that acted as a double-jump, giving me access to new areas and a better way to navigate the previously difficult sections. As you go on, you come to see areas as new challenges or hints of what is to come, such as the mysterious metal grates you eventually learn how to teleport through. The basic art style allows you to easily remember where these blockades are, and you are rewarded with bonus chests or shortcuts between areas.
Aggelos stresses the “action” portion of an action RPG, as you will use your newfound abilities to traverse jumps and pits as well as take down enemies, often simultaneously. Light puzzle elements rely on quick reflexes as you make your way through dungeons down to some pretty tough boss fights. Luckily the game is fairly generous with continues when you die, though it does keep a death count and saps a bit of your experience toward your next level.
I think my favorite part of Aggelos is how the challenging action mixes well with the puzzle elements of the MetroidVania. Most all progression is pretty straightforward. You may have to traverse to the other side of the map, but most new moves give you an obvious idea of where to go next. If they don’t, a wise seer at the main castle provides tips on where to go next. I’m three hours into the game and feel I have a long way to go, and message boards discuss upwards of twenty hours to complete the title. For a $15 game with decent replay value due to the action elements, that’s a pretty good deal.
Aggelos does unfortunately struggle due to adhering a bit too close to classic presentation for me, though. The menus are garish with the basic blue behind black boxes with yellow text, and there’s no core way to keep notes outside of scrawling them down yourself like back in the day. While the music is fun and reminiscent, I did tire of finding the same music in each dungeon as opposed to unique titles, and the music looped enough to drive my wife nuts and force me to turn the volume down. After that happened, I started noticing the loops easier myself. Good chiptune music, just could have used a bit more variety. Now, if you truly WANT a completely classic presentation, you might just take this paragraph as a wonderful benefit! I personally would have liked to see them portray the classic art style with a few modern amenities. I also at times felt the controls a hair floaty, just enough to make the precision jumping mechanics needed frustrate. Like I said, though, precision is paid off in spades with ways to make those frustrations easier.
It says a lot for a game though for my only complaints to be more personal preference than genuine concerns. Despite it’s tropey story and straightforward presentation. Aggelos pulls me back a couple decades and shows me what a modern-style RPG could have been if we weren’t so focused on making new and more realistic graphics. I love how the puzzles are just tough enough for you to take a break, then wake up the next morning with new ideas on how to overcome them. Aggelos is one review game I’m excited to press through to the end even after I finish my review. It’s an easy recommendation to anyone who is a fan of any part I have stated above that mix to make the final product.
-Straightforward but enjoyable story and progression
-MetroidVania style progression plus RPG equipment and levelling create a powerful and fun to play as protagonist
-Blast from the past fits perfectly in with classic action and RPG games
-Chiptune music could use a few more bars before the repeats
-Basic presentation sometimes feels a detriment without modern conveniences
-Enemy movement patterns are a hair TOO random, making some precise platforming in combat feel like luck of the draw
Special thanks to Pqube/LookAtMyGame/Storybird Games/Wonderboy Bobi for providing a code for review!