Aragami: Shadow Edition (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Action/adventure, stealth
Developer: Lince Works
Publisher: Merge Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Aragami: Shadow Edition (Switch) – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Beautiful visuals, Great gameplay
Bad: Frame drops
User Score
9.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Ninja stealth games: it has been quite some time since this genre was represented. Most commonly known is the Tenchu franchise. Although this series was very popular, it has already been more than ten years since its last game. Aragami tries to bring us back to those epic ninja days with its own twist on the formula. The conventional tools of the trade are replaced by the powers of shadows, enforcing the mystique of these warriors. Aragami: Shadow Edition is the bundled version of the original Aragami and the Nightfall DLC. 

Story

As this version has two modes you can play trough both scenarios that each have unique storylines. The Aragami series takes place in a traditional Asian setting in which the Aragami are vengeful spirits. In the original game you are summoned by Yamiko, a beautiful woman that needs your help. The land of her people was taken and destroyed by the Kaiho clan and she is being held prisoner, fearing for her life. You see a projection of her and this will guide you through the amazing map that is filled with clan members. When playing the Nightfall chapter you actually see some events that happen right before the original campaign. Following Hyo and Shinobu in their final mission to successfully save a long lost companion. As this is only a single mission you will complete this scenario quite fast, with around an hour and half of gameplay. Overall story progression is quite smooth, the flow captures the player into completing yet another level because of the intriguing way it’s told. Past events are shown by still cutscenes that sometimes offer small animations to make it look like you are reading it from a book yet watching a scene.

Graphics

Aragami: Shadow Edition has not stolen its name: the game puts a strong emphasis on the shadow aspect with mainly darker colors being used. Sometimes it feels like you are playing a Noir game, in a good way, with black, grey, white and red as the main colors. This is done because while moving around in the shadows, the only colors shown are grayscale, since this is where you belong. When exposed to light, you see the true colors of Aragami; his red cape matches the blood of killed enemies, and is another wink to ninja games. Your cape is also your main source of information, since the HUD is absent you must pay close attention to this accessory. The graphics are beautifully hand-drawn, but the character animations are rather stale and simplistic.

Sound

The shadowy environment makes the overall experience quite silent. There is no ambient music playing, you only hear your own footsteps and animals doing their night calls. When overhearing conversations, you notice the characters corresponding in an Asian-like language but not in full sentences. It might be a bit of a missed opportunity to brush up on your language pallet, but this created language does have its charms.

Gameplay

Aragami: Shadow Edition are actually a combination of two stealth-based action games in which you are one with the shadows. You are a ninja that has been called by Yamiko to save her from her captors. Since the Kaiho clan has taken the land and destroyed everything, you must take vengeance on these samurais. Ninjas don’t really fight head on, and that’s something that the player must consider when approaching enemies. You start out with only a few basic skills and your sword and with this you must stealthily approach your opponents and silently end their existence. After the first few kills you will notice that you don’t have an option to move bodies, which forces you to carefully plan executions to remain fully unnoticed. When progressing through the game, you will find scrolls that grant the player skill points, which can be invested into purchasing more offensive perks and abilities. One skill that can help hiding bodies is the one that allows you to let the shadows consume the bodies of dead warriors. The arsenal of weapons also contains kunai for longer range engagement and traps to take care of multiple enemies at once.

In other stealth games you typically have a plan B in case anything goes wrong, from fighting for your life to items that ensure a successful escape. Aragami isn’t that forgiving because when you get spotted by a samurai, he will take you out, at any range. There is no fighting, it’s either kill or be killed, and this makes the player even more cautious about taking down the enemy. Your best bet is to lurk in the shadows or to create darkness in order to get up close for the finishing blow. Since the game uses no HUD, you must get your information from your cape. This will tell you how many shadow power and skill uses you still have left. Shadow power gets refilled while sitting in the darkness and does not fade away when in the light, perks can be refilled at shrines. This means that you can gather shadow essence and then use it to cast shadows in the open to quickly teleport to places or higher ground.

Overall, the game controls quite smoothly with good input responsiveness, but there are a few bad points. First of all, if you play on the Switch in handheld mode, you will notice that the shoulder button placement is a bit unlucky, so teleporting from crouching can be a bit straining on the hands. Probably the biggest annoyance of the title is the tremendous frame drops. While not completely destroying the gameplay, this does hamper it.

Conclusion

Aragami: Shadow Edition is a bundle of very nice stealth games that remind us of the sneaky ninja days of Tenchu. Having to rely on the darkness to keep you hidden and your skills in check is essential not to be detected by the powerful Kaiho clan. The nice graphics are combined with an atmosphere of silence and mystery, so you know you’re in for a good adventure.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Aragami: Shadow Edition (Switch) - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
MC_JP
MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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