AereA Review – An Attempt at Musical Action
AereA is a tale of 4 heroes of music, set out in a broken world to find the 9 fabled enchanted instruments to help bring their world together again. This game would be a great class project, or perhaps decent for a one man Dev/art team however, in story, models, levels and combat this game fell short on several fronts. This is a 4 player Co-op Game that centers its combat focus around the use of magic musical instruments in defeating your foes,
Unfortunately I don’t have much to say for the story itself. It felt shallow, and otherwise forcing the idea of these musical heroes saving a world torn apart. Due to pacing issues and dull level structure the story of our 4 heroes fell flat. There are 9 bosses in this game that our heroes must defeat with the power of their musical instruments however the explanation to why these 9 Instruments from these 9 bosses are important, is not to be found. I found myself skipping dialogue and just trying to power through it after the 3rd level or so. It became a lot of the same.
The graphics are charming, but quickly the charm fades. Simplicity seemed to be the approach with a lot of these characters however, in the design of the bosses and some of the repeated world textures, laziness shines through. The game is 3D with a limited color palette. Each character is typically expressionless boring, with not real customization of your character. I would compare these graphics to a Student project from a game development class. They get the job done, and serve the purpose of the developers intentions I am sure, however for me, I have seen it before and it is simply not something to write home about. The one thing to note is that I did not experience any hiccups in framerate, or crashed on my end. I would think this would be from the lack of load it puts on my system. The game is quite simplistic and the levels do not have enough variation or anything going on for that matter, to inhibit a frame rate drop.
The sound for the game is where it shines. In a game about music and musical instruments at least it does not fall short on this front. I found the soundtrack calming and the effects of the weapons enjoyable. There is no dialogue in the game so having a nice soundtrack helps keep your attention while playing. Bosses all have their own unique audio queues and sounds which helps in making each magical weapon unique. From the Bagpipe Beatle, to the Piano esq Snake, there are unique tunes associated with each that I can appreciate.
Gameplay is where the game suffers the most. Each character is given 2 abilities at the start. A range and a melee. No dash, or means to progress faster through the levels. The controls were built specifically for the controller, and playing on a keyboard is something I would highly advise against. Your character is controlled with the left thumbstick. All the aiming from your character is based on the direction he is looking. Not allowing me to control my aiming with the right thumb stick becomes incredible aggravating and I find a lot of my shots missing their targets.
Between the 2 main attacks you begin with and the 3 you pick up later on in the game (After dragging your feet through the first 3 levels) it is simply not fun. There is nothing new brought to the table with this game, each level tends to be more of the same with each boss fight offering 1-3 boss shallow mechanics that leaving you wanting it all to just be over with. The level structures are built semilinear and you find yourself dying a lot to environmental elements that were simply unavoidable.
The game progresses slowly and the combat does not help with the difficulty of aiming. Each level has you run through a sequence of locked gates. These locked gates have mechanics to open them which are hidden behind spiked gauntlets, landmines, or other mob based barriers. Once you retrieve whatever is required of you to obtained behind these locked doors, you are brought back to the hub world, where they then send you elsewhere in the world. Every area is a lot of the same with your death resulting in you being sent to a respawn point which will have you trek back to the point in which you die. Due to the lack of any sprint or speed boost the linear levels drag on and grow old fast.
In reviewing this game I did not get a chance to try the local co-op option, only the single player. I can surmise however that playing with friends would bring a slight enjoyment to the game, however you may have more fun picking up Skylanders and playing that. There appeared to only be 1 difficulty in the game itself, but with the lack of variation in mobs and boss mechanics it feels more like a game for kids than adults.
AereA missed the mark. This game was simply not enjoyable and after this review I do not see myself going back to play more. I made sure to play all 4 characters in an effort to see if it got better, however I was let down. Movement, Combat, and level progression are not interesting in the least. Boss fights feel like choirs rather than fun encounters. To wrap it all up the look and feel of the game is boring and drab, lacking the uniqueness to have it stand out amongst the other Action RPG’s on the market. If you are interesting in an Action RPG to buy your time, look somewhere else; AereA is not that game.