Aggelos is exactly the kind of game that made me start writing game reviews in the first place.
You see, I began blogging about games in response to an increasing number of games that I think are brilliant and well-done, but just can’t seem to get the recognition they deserve. Chalk it up to a lack of sufficient marketing or simply an overburdened market, but Aggelos is a solid and enjoyable game that shamefully few have heard of.
I found it randomly in my Steam feed and was struck by the familiarity and faithfulness of the retro graphics. The gameplay video I watched revealed Aggelos to be true to its inspiration, with fairly challenging platforming and intense sword-swinging combat. I emailed the devs to beg for a review key and they obliged. So for the sake of full disclosure, I got this game for free, but only after hounding the developers for a copy.
That’s not to say I’ve never been given keys to mediocre games, and the real Proof is in the Play. (TM!) So let’s crack this puppy open and see if it’s as good as it looks.
First thing’s first. Devs take note: Graphics are the first thing anybody sees and is the most certain determining factor in whether you can generate community interest. And Aggelos definitely shines in this department.
That’s not to say it has the best graphics. Certainly, it can’t match the intensely embellished pixel art of Owlboy, but Aggelos takes a simpler approach, with environments and characters that are much truer to their 16-bit inspiration. More along the lines of Shovel Knight.
Aggelos pays homage to many of my favorite retro games in sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-much ways. The developer, Storybird Games, says their greatest inspiration was Wonder Boy. The only Wonder Boy games I ever played were the Adventure Island series, so I can’t attest to that. But the layout of forests with spiders dropping from above calls to mind Castlevania and Zelda II in equal measure. The temple dungeons call to mind Metroid and at times I swear I find a Mega Man influence.
It’s all very familiar, very consistent, fully-baked and welcoming. The graphics are not too lavish or over the top, but it all works perfectly.
Okay, so it looks good, but does it play good?
As with the graphics, the gameplay is nothing too crazy or over the top. Basic retro-mechanics apply. Move, jump, swing your sword. As you progress through the game, of course, you unlock magical abilities that allow you to reach new Metroids… err, new areas. Sorry.
For example, the first ability you unlock allows you to freeze certain enemies to use as platforms. Sound familiar? Well, the whole thing should!
So yes, controls are familiar and very workable. I set this up to use with my Steam Controller, though it took a bit to get the buttons assigned to my liking. A regular controller should work just fine, or you can use the keyboard to play. The movement and attack are plenty responsive to allow tricky play. You’ll like it.
Check it out!
Sadly, I have not yet finished the game. I wanted to get this review out while Storybird is still enjoying some momentum from their game launch.
As I said in the beginning, games like this deserve recognition. These are the kind of developers that deserve your support so that they can make more good retro games for me to enjoy. So go try Aggelos and you’re welcome!