REVIEW: Alwa’s Awakening

Mar
12

REVIEW: Alwa’s Awakening

Alwa’s Awakening is a retro metroidvania platformer with pixel graphics.

Steam: Full Release

Developer: Elden Pixels

Publisher: Elden Pixels

Release date: 2nd of February, 2017

Genre: Metroidvania Platformer

Type: Single-player

You play as Zoe, the purple caped heroine on a quest to free the world of Alwa from the 4 Guardians (bosses)… or something like that. I wasn’t paying much attention to the storyline, it’s the usual thing.

The idea is to explore the world, jumping gaps, climbing ladders, killing enemies, collecting keys to open doors to new (named) areas, and collecting the 3 gemstones to gain new powers: create a block to allow you to jump a bit higher; bubble to raise you a little higher than the block; fireball to shoot enemies and open lightning-bolt doorways. As you gain these new powers it allows you to reach previously inaccessible areas, so you have to revisit previous areas with your new powers to open up more map. There are the usual puzzling elements in as much as “how to I get up/over there”.

You manually set your own waypoints by lighting torches along the way, so you have a choice of where you want to respawn which is quite useful if you want to focus on an earlier area. You have 3 lives before death/respawn – sometimes you find an extra life along the way to delay your demise and some hazards mean insta-death. In any case, there is a lot of death, and each time you die you’re given a reminder of the overall number of deaths you’ve suffered. It does mount up. There are also warp gates dotted around the world which can transport you to any previously-opened area so you don’t have to navigate huge distances.

You can access the inventory/minimap to see how many keys/orbs/items you’re holding and keep tabs on where you are in the world. It’s a well thought out map, showing the locations of bosses (even in the yet-unmapped areas), waypoints, warp gates etc. Everything you need to know.

In general, there is no confusion or frustration as you’re kept well informed about objectives and what’s required to meet them by the strategically placed characters who give you information and progress the (bare bones) storyline.

Sound & Vision

The pixel graphics are fine, interesting enough characters, nothing spectacular. Chiptunes (different one for each area) are pleasant and original.

Difficulty

The enemies you meet along the way are very easy. Some move from side to side, others shoot at you. Standard stuff. The bosses have traditional attack patterns that are easy to defeat once you work out the method. How-do-I-reach-that puzzling is also as expected. Overall this will not tax your brain too much, it’s a casual game.

Performance

In Windows, Xbox and Steam controllers both work without any tweaking. In Linux, neither is recognised at all. I used Steam Big Picture mode to map my Steam controller to keyboard keys and it worked well, but if you have Xbox + Linux you’ll have to resort to keyboard controls. Movement is crisp, responsive and satisfying. It feels ‘fair’ at all times.

There are only 3 resolution options in windowed mode but they are good enough. Sliders for volume control and the default sound level is good.

No bugs or glitches found; rock solid performance; intuitive/complete menu system; no complaints.

Steam

15 achievements – interesting ones; 6 trading cards. I would like to see cloud support.

Value

It depends… if you’re really into this sort of thing then there’s certainly enough content to warrant the price tag. Personally, I would be happy to buy it but would wait for a discount first because it’s not the kind of title I would get excited about, for me it’s more of a time filler.

Verdict

It’s a well crafted, solid metroidvania, there’s nothing bad to say about it, and if you’re a gamer of a certain age then I’m sure you’ll love the nostalgia of it. However, it doesn’t deviate from the standard formula of this genre. Within the first 10 minutes you already know what to expect, there are no surprises. My feeling is that it doesn’t compete well with other metroidvanias in the Steam store. For example, you can get Teslagrad for the same price and there’s no comparison.

RATING:

(click on the image to see the rating explanation)

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