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  • Chad Myers

Game Review #199: Aragami: Shadow Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Lince Works

Publisher: Merge Games

Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: 2.21.2019

Price (at time of review): $29.99 (digital) | $39.99 (regular, physical) | $50.17 (Signature Edition LE, physical)

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition (physically) from Amazon here.

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition LE (physically) from Signature Edition Games here.

It’s Going Down In The Shadows

One of my favorite genres is action games that rely strongly on stealth as a game mechanic, as I would play the old Splinter Cell and Metal Gear games, and especially a personal favorite, the Tenchu series—ah, how I loved Tenchu: Stealth Assassins! What in the world can be better than gliding through the night, carving out the evil forces one by one, and then slinking back into the shadows again, undetected and unseen? There have been a few games I’ve played on the eShop that use stealth, but none like those mentioned before where it’s so engrained into the gameplay. So, when I heard about Aragami by the developers Lince Works, based out of Spain, I put down my ninja stars and poisonous darts, as I was ready to try this one out for myself.

The Dark Versus The Light

You play as Aragami, a powerful force summoned into existence by an astral projection of Yamiko, who informs Aragami that she was kidnapped by the Kaiho, an army of light adepts. She tells him how the light adepts conquered the land of the shadow people, and have her and the shadow empress held captive in a prison. Aragami has to retrieve six talismans to unlock the prison and free everyone, though he only has one night, because if day light touches Aragami, then he will dissolve. You are given a sword, and must cut down the enemies to reach each talisman and restore order to the land.

As you play through you’ll learn more about Aragami through flashbacks, and you will see how he ties into this whole war and story. I liked how you would hear the story come out naturally through the guards too as you sneak around, plus, it’s an added layer to find out if you’ll end their life, knowing them on a more human level and hearing that they have families and such. The story is done very well and is a major selling point for this game, as sleuth games usually rest on gameplay, but when a great story is added, it really helps the overall experience come together.

Ninjas Do It In The Dark

You have 13 stages that will give you plenty of challenges as you make your way through each stage, as you have to find ways to stay in the shadows, all while sword-wielding guards and archers scan the grounds looking for intruders. The archers are elevated and can see further than the regular guards. You don’t have to kill anyone if you truly don’t want to. The only person that you have to kill in each stage is the boss, if there is one in the stage.

Like most stealth games, you have to be careful of what the enemies see and hear. If a guard sees you or a body, then they will draw swords and investigate. If they find you they will sound alarms, bringing more guards to you, and this is not a game where you want to stand your ground and fight it out! In the early stages, being seen is pretty much a death sentence, but as you go, you earn enough abilities that you can leap into escape mode and be gone before they know what happened. It’s all about being able to control the fight or flight mode you have internally. They can also hear screams, and if they see you and you’re able to evade, they’ll become more suspicious. If you are hit once, you die and go back to the most recent checkpoint. This also applies if you fall into water.

Aragami’s controls are like a lot of the stealth games I loved before, like Tenchu, and that is a good thing! As with all stealth games, the controls have to be precise and very responsive, and I can report that they are great. You move with the left stick and look around using the right stick. Y is the button you use to send the guard to the afterworld to visit his ancestors. One of the cool new features is the shadow leap, which allows you to go through objects or travel large distances in a blink of an eye, but this will cost you some of your magic that you gather in the shadows. This magic also drains quickly in the light, so you have to slide back into the shadows before you can follow through with abilities, unless you have a tiny bit left over after leaping.

You will unlock a raven that aids you in targeting objects, and it can be upgraded to do more as you go. There are many abilities to learn, for example, having the power to swallow your enemy into a shadow black hole, or summon a shadow dragon. These are unlocked and upgraded through exploration, level completion, and finding scrolls.

One thing in the gameplay I did notice that can sometimes can be a little bit of a let down in stealth games was the AI, as they’re not too smart, even on the hard difficulty; but also, I give it to the developers for making a game that feels so natural getting into the rhythm of playing that, even in a hard mode, you feel very powerful as you master the game. I really enjoyed the scoring system and how it adds points or takes away for everything that happens, giving you a graded score. You could play through the campaign multiple times trying to achieve no-kill runs or kill-every-damn-person-breathing runs. This is the complete edition with all DLC, including the Nightfall Expansion, and there are a few other additions, like co-op, which was fun, but I spent most of my time in the single-player mode, as that’s where I think the game shines.

Audio & Visuals

The visuals are gorgeous, but, as always, when you have a game that really tries to stand out and drops on all systems, you can’t help but notice that it looks better everywhere else than here on Switch. Now, saying that, the game is still gorgeous, and has a very nice look, but I noticed some pop in and little errors, like shadows leaping to areas with no shadows, and then once I landed, the shadow would form around me. The visuals, I’m hoping, can be tightened up in an update in the future, but still, the game is very nice to look at as-is, and this won’t hurt your experience.

The audio is done very well, with a soundtrack you’d come to expect, taking into consideration that this looks like we are in Japan during the Shogun, so don’t expect Seven Samurai, but in that vein. The audio sounds are really spectacular, with a lot of ambient sounds from running water, wildlife, and of course, the guards. The show-stealers, however, are the assassinations, as you hear the blade rip into a guards body, pulling out and then slamming into another chunk of the poor bastard as he’s gurgling on his own blood. It really draws you in and makes you grip that controller a little tighter.

It’s A Wrap!!!

Well, I feel like I’ve said all I can say, except touching on the value. I’ll be picking up the standard physical version myself, though there is a Signature Edition that comes with a lot of goodies. If you don’t have to have the physical copy like myself, you can always go digital, as it’s the cheapest way. But I’m saying that I highly recommend Aragami for Switch, as it’s a must-own, and should be in your collection.

Score: 9/10

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition from the Nintendo eShop here.

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition (physically) from Amazon here.

Buy Aragami: Shadow Edition LE (physically) from Signature Edition Games here.

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*Review Code Provided by Merge Games

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