Aaru's Awakening Review

By Mike Sousa on April 19, 2015

Developed by Lumenox Games, Aaru's Awakening is a challenging 2D action puzzle-platformer game that will surely test the player's skill. The game takes place in the world of Lumenox, a world that prospered in perfect balance after the deities Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Night, decided to take turns over ruling the world. However, this balance is suddenly broken by Night. Dusk is aware of Night's actions, and instructs his faithful servant Aaru to journey through the other deities' domains and stop Night.

Controlling Aaru is an easy task, but it's the level design that will make the game more challenging. Aside from running and jumping, Aaru only has two abilities: charge in mid-air and teleport. The teleport technique is performed by shooting an orb of light and teleport to it whenever you want. This is a feature that fits quite well in the game's platforming sections, as Aaru can use this ability to teleport to higher platforms, cross over deadly spikes, lakes or other obstacles, pass through tiny corridors too small for him to go through, and even killing enemies by teleporting inside them.

The game also includes boss battles, which considering Aaru's lack of combat abilities, will once again rely on his charge and teleport abilities. This isn't bad in any way, as it adds a bit more variety to the game itself, since these sections will also test the player's dodging skills. In these sequences the room where the boss is features glowing portals to which players must teleport to, and these will take the players to new areas where it will need to complete a new platforming section or survive enemy attacks during a certain amount of time. As each portal is completed it also becomes more difficult to survive in the main room, as the boss starts to attack more relentlessly and more obstacles appear. Once all portals have been completed, a final portal will appear and completing it will end the battle.

Using these abilities and completing the levels is easy initially, but as the player progresses the levels become more difficult, and it will require quite a bit of mastery over Aaru's abilities as well as quick and precise actions to avoid getting killed. This is something that will surely please hardcore gamers, but that doesn't mean it's something that will drive the casual players away as the game offers enough checkpoints to make the game easier for those that just want to enjoy the experience. The game also features an online leaderboard, which allows players to show off their skills and try and beat their friends' or other players' record times.

Unfortunately, the game also has its own set of problems. There are some sections in a few of the later levels that are based more on trial and error rather than skill, and despite the decent amount of checkpoints in each level, it doesn't erase the fact that it becomes frustrating to repeat a particular spot over and over just because it feels like it's luck-based. Another problem I found is that sometimes you must fire an orb off-screen and teleport to it, which could randomly result in being killed if I ended up being teleported to spikes or any part of the environment that can instantly kill Aaru.

Presentation is probably the game's strongest point. Aaru's Awakening hand-drawn environments are colorful, gorgeous and very detailed, so much that it seems like it came directly from a book or an animated movie. The soundtrack does a satisfying job, with the majority of the soundtrack fitting appropriately with the game's levels, even though a better job could have been done on the sound effects.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Aaru's Awakening is a game that had a lot of potential but failed to do a bit better due some choices in level design. Even though some of its problems might led to frustrating moments, Aaru's Awakening is a treat to the eyes that offers an enjoyable and challenging experience for those that are willing to invest some time into it.

Detailed and colorful environments.
Good for both casual and hardcore gamers.
Teleport mechanic adds a lot of depth to levels and boss battles.
Luck-based sections.
Random deaths after teleporting.
Short story with barely any replay value.
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