Aura of Worlds (PC) Review with Stream
Interesting level design
Lack of animation
Too hard in spots
Any game can be great, but to be replayed and still be great is another summit that not many titles reach. Even near perfect games can sometimes only be a few hours long, and then the magic is ruined. To combat that gaming fatigue, we have the category of “Roguelikes” which are procedurally generated and will be slightly or even very different each time you play them and usually include “permadeath” in which you lose everything that made your character special like armor or weapons or skills. This creates a challenge each time, and since it always varies there’s nothing to memorize or get stale.
Check out my stream of Aura of Worlds embedded below:
Roguelikes and pixel graphics go together like peanut butter and jelly. The dungeon crawl experience from most roguelikes just lends itself so well to old school graphics. Making the “pixel perfect” jump to get to the next ledge, or getting just close enough to an enemy to hit him while avoiding death really brings out the best in gamers. The people at Cognitive Forge want to harness that, and have made Aura of Worlds for that endeavor. AoW somehow balances on the line of pixel art cuteness, but also has enough details in said pixels for you to admire the subject as a whole. When I use my spear, I don’t think it’s just a bit of pixels put together, I know that I’m using a spear even from a distance, even with its lack of real detail.
Having a distinctive look is very important, but I feel that they have missed the mark on the other part of this tall order, which is animation. While the static images are great too look at, the movement of the avatar and even the enemies comes off as very stilted and chunky. I am not sure if it is not putting enough animation frames in between the major stances, but there’s just not enough differences in how the character looks from second to second to make me think it’s alive, and instead takes you out of the experience. However, because the background doesn’t need to move so much, the setting and backgrounds look great due to their adherence to details.
The controls are very interesting in that they have many movement-oriented devices like a grappling hook, teleporting, and time manipulation, all of which can be accessed from a modern looking weapon wheel. I like this control mechanic, and I think it works quite well for the fast-paced nature of this game. Speed is everything here, and having tight controls has a lot to do with that. With needing to grapple, you need to know where the edge of your character is at all times for the platforming to work, and it does in AoW.
Being procedurally created each time, with 3 main world types, and 8 themes within those (like rising lava) the number of play styles is very high, and allows for just so much randomization that you will get a lot of games for just one price, and that price isn’t even that high. AoW is not for the faint of heart however, as it is pretty difficult even when starting out, so be prepared to die A LOT, and when you do, make sure to appreciate the art along the way.