A few years in the past, Elden Pixels put out Alwa’s Awakening, a pleasant form of throwback Metroidvania that constructed a high quality expertise round a number of well-designed concepts. It didn’t precisely mild up the charts, however Alwa’s Awakening nonetheless managed to amass a small following, one which Elden Pixels tapped final November went it launched the Kickstarter for a sequel, Alwa’s Legacy. Now, one pandemic and fewer than one yr later, the group has launched Alwa’s Legacy for the Swap and it’s a good time. Alwa’s Legacy routinely demonstrates mastery of the weather essential to a great Metroidvania, making for a concise and well-made expertise that’s actually value your cash.
The story picks up with our hero Zoe waking up on a seaside in Alwa, having misplaced all reminiscence of how she acquired there. After a fast run-in with the final sport’s villain, Vicar, Zoe is then tasked with taking a mysterious e-book and journeying across the land of Alwa to gather magical artefacts and battle off demons, which ought to hopefully fill within the blanks of her reminiscence, too.
Very like the earlier sport, it’s clear proper from the off that Alwa’s Legacy isn’t too involved with telling a prolonged or significantly deep story, however that isn’t essentially a damaging. The land of Alwa is stuffed with all method of memorable characters – like a younger necromancer woman who spends her time in a graveyard recreationally elevating the useless – and although this forged doesn’t come collectively in a memorable approach, they go a great distance in the direction of making it really feel like a cohesive world. Plus, the narrative largely staying out of the way in which leaves much more room for the wonderful gameplay to face entrance and centre, which makes your expertise really feel way more centered.
The land of Alwa is inbuilt a non-linear, Metroidvania-style style, one which conjures up fairly a way of awe regularly. You’re at all times subtly prodded on the place to go subsequent, which helps sidestep the primary sport’s points with route, nevertheless it’s by no means explicitly laid out for you precisely what you need to do. This naturally encourages you to discover the intricately-designed worlds, which include an expertly balanced mix of sunshine fight, puzzle-solving and platforming.
These interconnected ranges are a lot simpler to navigate as a result of improved map system, and your efforts to stray from the overwhelmed path are sometimes rewarded with a pleasant pick-up. A few of these are extra comfort centered – just like the ‘tears’ that permit you to flip save factors into warp factors to get round faster – whereas others are extra centered on sensible utilization, such because the orbs you should use to improve Zoe’s skills.
Zoe’s controls really feel tight and responsive, which is kind of a reduction given how the platforming can generally demand some nimble fingers to manoeuvre between crumbling platforms, flying projectiles and encroaching enemies. This responsive motion is then supplemented nicely by Zoe’s suite of skills, which is thorough, however not overcrowded. Most of Zoe’s actions are ruled by three easy spells she will get comparatively early, which permit her to spawn blocks, bubbles, and forged bolts of magic.
One would assume three comparatively fundamental expertise like this is able to rapidly develop stale, however the puzzles steadily discover methods to make the most of mixtures of those in fascinating methods, and the gradual improve course of sees them buying neat secondary results to assist fight and puzzle-solving alongside. Along with these, Zoe additionally has a set of recent skills which are extra situational however add some good flavour to every space’s environmental puzzles, akin to a clock that may briefly decelerate time or boots that may let her stroll on spikes briefly. Each new skills and upgrades to previous ones are doled at a well-measured price, which retains Alwa’s Legacy transferring alongside at a pleasant tempo.
Although a lot of your time is spent exploring the overworld and discovering new sections of the map to discover, the true highlights of your time with Alwa’s Legacy are discovered within the numerous dungeons dotted round. Although there are solely a handful of those, every of those Zelda-like temples is crafted round a central theme and normally see you attending to each check out a brand new merchandise and battle one of many many thrilling bosses.
Though on the floor these dungeons don’t appear to do something completely different than the overworld, we moderately loved how every of them has some persistent ingredient that you simply often return to work together with, akin to a puzzle in a single dungeon wherein your complete dungeon dive is wrapped up in determining proceed elevating the water ranges to get a treasure chest to the highest ground so you may open it. Moments like which are memorable and assist to offer every dungeon a novel id, particularly contemplating that there’s a mushy ‘story’ being informed by way of deepening these mechanics because the dungeon wears on. All of that is to say, the dungeons are actually a spotlight right here, and anyone who loved the dungeon design of basic Zelda video games of yore or, extra not too long ago, the previous few Shantae video games will little question respect the form of design being employed right here.
Alwa’s Awakening could have been a quintessential instance of true 8-bit graphical presentation, however such limitations have been deserted for the considerably extra detailed artwork fashion employed in Alwa’s Legacy. There’s some critically large artwork on show right here, with environmental backgrounds being an actual spotlight. Zoe’s journey takes her by way of a litany of various biomes and we had been significantly struck at how Alwa’s Legacy constantly managed to shock us with the design for every new place.
It’s laborious to not cease a second to only take it in once you cross into a brand new zone and are greeted by a splendorous mountain vary looming over a verdant valley, making this the form of sport that’ll have you ever going for that ‘seize’ button loads. Fortunately, it’s not simply the backgrounds which have gotten numerous life, because the sprite work is equally top-notch. Enemy and character sprites are drawn and animated in a fantastically detailed style, which leaves loads of room for expressive gestures and facial options. Suffice to say, it’s fairly the step up from the charmingly simplistic visuals of Alwa’s Awakening, and that is nearly as lovingly crafted as pixel artwork can get.
We really feel particular consideration must be paid to a sure ‘X issue’ which appears to be current all through everything of Alwa’s Legacy, although it’s laborious to pin down exactly what it’s. Merely put, there’s a really palpable sense of the hassle put in on the developer’s facet to make this the perfect sport it may be; all the pieces from the little particulars just like the mice scurrying round in individuals’s houses to the tactile sensation of merely leaping between platforms coheres into one thing that quantities to greater than the sum of its components. That is, plainly talking, only a enjoyable sport to play second to second, and all the person components that pour into that make for an expertise that you simply received’t wish to miss out on.
Alwa’s Legacy is a wonderful instance of do a correct sequel; it takes all the pieces that the unique did nicely and builds on it, provides in a number of new concepts of its personal, and corrects the problems that had been beforehand current. It might be a little bit on the brief facet, however Alwa’s Legacy is the particular form of sport that solely comes round as soon as in an amazing whereas, reminding you of the form of high quality that’s attainable when a devoted crew places within the time to make a cultured and tightly designed remaining product. The perfect Metroidvania on Swap? That’s solely subjective, after all, however these of you who benefit from the style owe it to yourselves to offer this a attempt.