Monday, 15 March 2021

Alwa's Legacy Review (Switch)

A few years ago Elden Pixels released a great NES inspired Metroidvania adventure called Alwa’s Awakening. The 8-bit aesthetic was one of the best recreations around and the game itself played much better than the most of the NES games is was inspired by. Unfortunately, it seems to have been overlooked by a large portion of gamers. Alwa’s Legacy is the sequel and sees the series move from its 8-bit roots to embrace the extra colours and processing power of the 16-bit era.

Setting any game in what many consider to be the golden age of gaming is a brave move. But Elden Pixels have proved with Alwa’s Awakening that they know exactly how to make something that both feels legitimate to the time and has an overall quality that is apparent in every aspect of the game. With that in mind we already knew that Legacy was going to be an adventure worth our time.

The game pretty much follows the same layout as its predecessor. You play Zoe again who needs to adventure around the world, picking up abilities as she goes and finding a host of magical stones in order to beat an evil big bad. You know how these things go, the plot is not overly deep or original but the characters are nice and real focus is in the adventure rather than the story.

So it’s lucky that the actual adventuring aspect of the game is excellent. Zoe herself controls well and the general flow of progression is satisfying. There were a few occasions where we got stuck for a while but a look at the map and some quiet reflection soon gave us some leads and off we went once more. It is worth noting though that sometimes patience is key with Legacy as there is little in the way of hand holding with regards to your next objective. Villagers will offer advice but even that can lead you to some dead ends.

On one particulate occasion we had just trekked around to get a key to enter a dark catacomb only to then be told we needed a light source. No problem, we had been given a hint to a location and off we went. The only thing was when we got there the guy we had been told about didn’t have any further information and the head scratching began.

Still, if you are going to be stuck wandering around a world it’s nice that this one looks so lovely. The 16-bit style has been well implemented meaning there is a consistent thematic look but also that each area has some of its own characteristics which stop things becoming monotonous. It’s also really nice to see one of these games that embraces a bright colour palette. Everything else that comes out at the minute seems to be trying to out ‘Dark Souls’ itself in the levels of gloom it can put on screen. This is nicely complimented by some great music that may well spark a few retro memories of their own – especially in the castle.

Alwa’s Legacy does do things a little different to your standard Metroidvania in that a lot of your abilities are gained fairly early on. Yes, you will be picking things up that allow you to run across spikes or breathe under water but your main three spells are with you for much of the game. In order to get around and solve puzzles Zoe can create a block, a floating bubble or a bolt of lightning.

These three can also be combined in a few ways and the real core of the game is about using these mechanics together to hit switches or get through obstacles. The skills can be upgraded by collecting orbs from around the world but apart from making unbreakable bubbles much of the game is traversable without doing this.

Overall, Alwa’s Legacy is a beautifully designed follow up to Alwa’s Awakening. Its expands and develops on ideas and concepts present in the first game while also presenting a different enough experience to make revisiting the original feel worthwhile. There’s not a bad element in Legacy with everything coming together in an assured and nostalgically comforting way to produce a game that thrives on the spirit of adventure and fun. There’s an absolute deluge of this type of game around at the minute but Legacy has a look and feel that really does make it stand out from the crowd.

Overall 8/10

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