Game Hype received a review code for Alwa’s Awaking – After 12 hours of game-play, 186 lives, uncovering 100% of the map with 95% of items found and 99 out of 99 orbs collected, here are my thoughts.
If your finding your modern games too easy or need some 80’s console nostalgia the Elden Pixels team has you covered.
After watching the trailer Alwa’s Awaking delivers on everything you would want it too, Even just starting the game reminds me of simpler times.
A minimalistic Elden Pixels logo and a 8-bit jingle greet you and the menu sets in with the first of many great 8-bit tunes.
The menu visually and audibly is fantastically fit to style and yet again a blast from the past. Starting the game it fails to disappoint with a customary story of evil wizards and a peaceful land presented to you via a traditional 80’s slideshow.
Informed by the old lady saga that you Zoe (concept to the right) have been summoned to save the land of Alwa your adventure begins. The controls are simple as you would expect and according to the Alwa’s Awaking twitter the game could be played on a NES controller.
As you would expect from a metroidvania style game you have platforming and exploring to-do with finding items to overcome obstacles you encounter the bread and butter of the game with the ever so retro filling been boss fights and shiny blue orbs put in places that make you think “How am I meant to get that”. And you “Get that” by using a small set of simple yet dynamic set of spells, By placing blocks and summoning bubbles. These combined with floating platforms, water and spikes will see you platforming all over Alwa.
Alwa’s Awaking does a wonderful job of teaching mechanics via gameplay, you do receive a explanation of items/spells when you acquire them but then these areas also contain safe obstacles that make sure you know how your new item/spell this is fantastic game design. And this not just on a few occasions every new mechanic is introduced perfectly.
I have encountered a variety of rooms with all our old favorite features like falling platforms, lava pits, spikes, hidden passages, buttons ,doors, skeletons and sad blue faces that hate bubbles. Alright that last one was new for me too. I shall let you discover the rest.
The boss fights were fun and once again fit to style with learning attack patterns proving very valuable and striking when the opportunity arises been key, while also been great teaching tools for items found in the relevant area with those found before also playing a role, and with no coins or shops in sight you will be collecting blue orbs and if a boss is getting you down you are rewarded as these cause damage to bosses at the start of the fight giving you that helping hand if you need it.
Although not all is perfect as I mentioned above the game is a metroidvania and with enemies respawning whenever you leave a room beating a room again can become a little bit of a chore especially if the room past it is killing you but the respawn point is a few rooms away, Dying while back tracking is naturally unsatisfying although some areas do have backtracking solutions like one way doors and warps making getting around a bit easier. Although over all this problem seems unavoidable yet a mild irritant none the less and with the fact the game is a platformer I cant see many sensible design changes that could negate it while still staying true to the games homage, even with mobility gained from spells some rooms and foes will give you a equal challenge to when you first encountered them.
While it may be an intentional nod to the games roots and inspirations enemies appearing with a delay has cost me a bit of health. Your character hits the side of a room then as expected the game pans to the next, your character can then start to move about two steps and then the enemies appear iv had to get into the habit of not touching anything for a second or two whenever I’m heading into rooms that I don’t remember the enemies positions for fear of them appearing on top of me.
Also in the last quarter of the game I did not enjoying throwing myself against every wall in reach in a bid to find one I can walk thought, Alwa’s awaking does naturally introduces trick walls by showing monsters walk thought them on a few occasions.Yet in the last quarter I felt a few too many rooms and puzzles seem reliant on me headbutting and body slamming every reachable surface. After giving up and remembering I’m play a genre where exploration is greatly rewarded and most of the time necessary, I ended up putting myself in a fun run of death I had traveled at least 10 rooms and saved at ta spawn point to find I couldn’t progress due to a lack of spells and the
A few times I have luckily stumbled upon items but not everyone will, I can not help but think that after traveling across many rooms only to try, then fail to progress due to not finding something earlier, Is going to be frustrating for some player and could have been avoided with a little more structure to the players choice of routes, although this might have soured the experience slightly for players that know the genre from past titles.
Alwa’s awaking looks like it plays and sounds, from days gone by. And it is an absolute treat, with each area having its own unique tileset from grey bricked castles to orange stone towers a range of colours and environments keep your adventure visually fresh. Each monster also looks the part with some having visual clues as to there ability’s or behaviours so you not too unaware when you first encounter them.
The bosses also show some masterful spriting and are varied both visually and gameplay wise.
Each 8-bit music track in and of itself is a work of art and a joy to listen too as I explore each new area, The tone superbly set by each piece of music. Along with the sound of my magic staff swishing into a foe ,bubbles popping and blocks blocking everything sounds just the way it should. If all my positive adjectives didn’t click then ill also let you know Iv been listing to the soundtrack via the Alwa’s Awakening YouTube channel, because it’s great.
Alwa’s Awakening is now available via Steam
A review code was provided by Eiden Pixels