Yes they Afri-can
While it seems so far back in time, even America had its first set of video games like pong but now there are visionaries in the country of Cameroon who are now off to a running pace comparatively with the nation’s first video game company. Kiro’o Games doesn’t need to invent the wheel to get things rolling, but to just observe what does and does not work form those that came before, and being last to the party is pretty helpful that way.
Their flagship game, Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a fantasy rpg based in Africa, with some interesting sci-fi elements thrown in. You play a prince on the eve of becoming king, when your evil uncle steps in and decides to wreck your special day. This challenge will of course will be met, and so starts the epic journey to victory.
Being a 2D side scroller has a nice nostalgic feel that will likely invite some older players like myself who take to the brawler genre like kids to candy. The bright colors and well developed characters really do add a dimension of detail that can be missing from large developers nowadays. While it is part brawler for combat, it’s a bit more like a point and click adventure game for the rest of the time, since you have to talk with a fair amount of people to get quests going and there are many screen transitions to make this happen, which can be a bit boring.
The settings is fairly cool in that it’s clearly set in Africa, but all the people are farmers with hyper-futuristic technology like laser shovels. That’s right, laser shovels, so let that sink in for a bit. Comic book nerds might even make the parallel to fictional nations like Wakanda who have great technology but seem from the outside to be fairly underdeveloped. The odd mix of agriculture and advanced tech, and magic makes for an interesting if not confusing gameplay and story arch.
The main problem with having all this based in Africa with all the African culture displayed in the background, characaters, story, and even gameplay is that you have to have an understanding of the culture to appreciate all the work. This can be a detriment to those of use who don’t immediately understand whats going on and doesn’t let us connect with the game on a personal level making it hard for the world at large to be compatible.
The gameplay itself has good notions of mechanics and an interesting power system that doesn’t let you spam your big bad super powers constantly and makes you take the thought out approach to defeating your enemies. That said, I found immediately that I could juggle the first main boss in the air for so long, that he never came down so there are clearly some bugs that need to be worked out. It’s still fun to play, and the powers are varied enough to keep you playing. One major downside I found was that during the cut scene, the animations were great, looking hand painted, but the combat animations and transitions were rough and jumpy making it obvious that you’re playing a video game, and controlling the would be king to victory.
Aurion has some good ideas, but some bad execution overall. The mechanisms are there, you can tell when you play it, but the lack of money and experience does show. That said, it’s a decent first game from a company, let alone an entire nation, and we should welcome them to this new frontier since its new ideas and situations that gamers crave more than anything. With their unique style and background, they could provide gamers with an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and that will be their strength moving forward.