Aragami is a third person stealth game developed by Lince Works, featuring a heavy emphasis on light versus darkness both in story and gameplay. Following a mission structure, you will sneak your way through several chapters, learning new shadow abilities and collecting talismans that your summoner requires. Coming out from the shadow of other stealth games like Tenchu, Aragami has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Like many single player games, you are an amnesia ridden protagonist though through means of being resurrected to fill the sneaking suit of an Aragami. Being summoned by a woman called Yamiko she tells you that you are a vengeful spirit, tasking you with killing the warriors of light that plague the lands, collect the talismans they are guarding and bring them to her prison to free her. Along the way you will start to recover some of the memories stored within your spirit and those of Yamiko, revealing some of the backstory and the overarching story.
Aragami tries to build itself up to be a big mystery with plot twists here and there, however, it sadly is an open book with almost every turn being an expected on. That’s not to say the story is uninspiring or boring, but it has been done before and feels rather played out.
The main story will last you around 6 hours, with the length depending on your playstyle, as those who want a no-kill no-alert run will have much faster times against those who wish to kill every enemy on the stage. You can select each individual chapter if you want to play it in a different way, complete it faster or collect all the scrolls for ability points. Your character continues to store all information, meaning a replay will allow you to keep your unlocked abilities.
Aragami is a very simple game at heart, stay in shadows to stay hidden, aim with the mouse and right click to teleport to shadows or left click to make your own. You can select a shadow ability with middle mouse click and press E to activate them, using Spacebar to kill enemies when close enough and F to interact with the environment. Besides those simplicities you are a one-hit kill person, both killing enemies in one sneak attack and dying to one hit from the warriors of light. You also have a shadow gauge that is represented on your cloak, showing you how much shadow essence you currently have and if you can make a shadow jump.
You unlock new abilities through the scrolls hidden in the levels, though the term “hidden” becomes almost meaningless when you can obtain an ability to highlight them after chapter 3. You can unlock abilities to kill at range, kill from ledges, make corpses disappear and become invisible, with each new ability comes a new way of progressing through the levels. Although all the abilities are cool and useful in a killing run, only the decoy and invisibility skills are useful within a no-kill run, leading to 6 of the abilities falling into the background.
While the controls and systems behind the game are rather simple the level design can sometimes be leagues apart in terms of simplicity. The starting missions are rather straightforward, but with introducing multiple paths, light barriers and increasing the enemy count the game becomes a lot more complex. I found myself having to revert to checkpoints to accomplish a no-alert run which was a welcome difficulty level.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Aragami is incredibly fitting and calming, following the styles of ninjas and Japanese tunes. Besides sounding beautiful and enchanting, the music flows between the sneaking track and actions tracks flawlessly, becoming full of energy and emotion as the guards hunt you down. It isn’t all perfect, however, as the music did have some looping issues as well as falling a bit too quiet when you’re sneaking around.
There were quite a few bugs when I first started playing, getting stuck in objects or getting pushed away from some surfaces, but those glitches seemed to stop happening after the latest patch. Along with the previous glitches, the mouse sensitivity of the game did not seem to change and was very sensitive, which again was fixed with a patch. With such quick responses, the game seems to be in good hands. However, there still continues to be times where I can teleport to areas I clearly shouldn’t or places I should be able to teleport but cannot.
Aragami is very much a trial and error sort of game, learning the different paths, mechanics and correct ways to go about an encounter. Sadly this becomes a monotonous practice in the later chapters, especially in one chapter where you need to deactivate 4 light barriers. Aragami could benefit from a mini-map feature, as your view can feel very constrained in tight areas, however, on the flip side, this can be very appealing to those wanting a challenge. On the topic of a mini-map, the game would benefit even more from a level map, as I found myself lost at times or using the crow would point me to the wrong areas or do not get updated.
Overall Aragami gets 7/10, it’s straightforward and offers an interesting stealth experience, however, it falls behind severely in unique mechanics, story and direction. The first few chapters clearly shine with the gameplay but it becomes too overburdened with objectives within later levels and tries to trick you with story twists that are way too obvious. You might be drawn in with its lovely art style, music design and voice-overs that are akin to Okami but feel disappointed in the lack of scale and delivery. With more development time, patches and polish, Aragami can become quite an enjoyable experience, but right now it feels a bit too clunky.