If someone were to have told me that I would end up enjoying this game as much as I did before I played it, I definitely would have laughed. From the start, Alwa’s Awakening looked pretty interesting to me based on the overall 8-bit feeling that developer Elden Pixels was going for. However, I was skeptical on how well they would pull this off because creating a game with a perfect balance of that 8-bit feeling, while also keeping the game a little more modern and fresh is no easy feat. After playing Alwa’s Awakening, I can confidently say that Elden Pixels have done just this. Although the story is a little lackluster, the platforming mechanics, the combat and exploration system, and the glorious soundtrack truly makes this game an experience to be had.
Alwa’s Awakening is an adventure puzzle-platformer with pixelated graphics that takes many great ideas from classic NES titles and mixes them with more modern mechanics. Before we get into the really juicy parts of this game, let’s talk about the story and get it out of the way. Alwa’s Awakening begins with a cut scene, where you learn that the land of Alwa has been taken over by Vicar. Vicar created the four Protectors to obtain the ornaments, which are objects that give immense power to the owner. Once Vicar had the ornaments stolen from the people of villagers, it seemed that there would be no hope for Alwa. You play as a hero named Zoe from another world, who was summoned by an old woman named Saga in order to bring back peace to Alwa. What a mouthful right? This incredibly fast intro gives no depth to the story, and leaves you with more questions than answers. Keep in mind, this cut scene had to have been a minute to a minute and a half long, so it was near impossible to retain the information. I had to make two more save files and watch the opening cut scene just to remind myself what the hell I was doing.
The gameplay is where everything that makes this game great starts coming into play. As Zoe, you can only take three hits from most things before you are dead. You use melee attacks as your main form of offense, and as you progress through the game, you will gain access to three different upgradable abilities, which consume mana, that are actually used more for puzzle solving and platforming than anything else. Quickly describing the exploration portion of this game, I would definitely have to say it draws similarities to both Metroid and Castlevania on the NES. In Alwa’s Awakening, to travel between rooms/screens, you must move to an outer most edge of the screen in order to advance to the next screen, similar to how players explore in both aforementioned titles. What goes absolutely perfect with this exploration system is this games 8-bit soundtrack. Every single track fits perfectly with the scenery and mood of the game, making everything that much more coherent. Describing the tracks here in only a few sentences does not do the soundtrack justice, so I would definitely recommend listening to it, whether or not you are going to end up playing this game.
Now here is the interesting part. The platforming in this game is some of the hardest platforming I have ever attempted. Those upgradable abilities are actually what allow the platforming to be so hard. Places that are out of reach can only be reached using these abilities, but the abilities have to be used so precisely in order to reach these places. To me, it was a breath of fresh air to see the platforming in this game different from most other platformers. Making the abilities so heavily implemented in the platforming forces you to be good with using them the correct way. This to me is an example of great game design, as blending different mechanics of gameplay in with one another rather than keeping them separate will yield a game with so much depth and potential. To be honest, I think it is this aspect right here is what really sold me on this game overall.
After playing this game, I can definitely say that Alwa’s Awakening is a game that everyone should play. It will never be as big as any of the classic NES titles, but I think there is a certain charm to this game that I personally have not found anywhere else. I would definitely recommend this game to any puzzle-platformer enthusiasts, or anyone who is looking for a challenging game, because this game gets pretty brutal.
- Platforming mechanics are amazing
- Will definitely challenge your skill
- Well polished game overall
- Storyline is very lackluster
- Game can be very short
Reviewed on: PC; Publisher: Elden Pixels; Developer: Elden Pixels; Players: Single Player; Released: February 02, 2017; ESRB: TBD; MSRP: TBD; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher