Aaru's Awakening - PlayStation 4

Release Date:

08 April 2015

Also on:

PS4 PC Xbox One

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


Aaru's Awakening is a hand-drawn, fast-paced 2D action platformer. The game puts players in charge of Aaru, a mythical creature with two unique abilities teleportation and charging. He uses these abilities as he travels through the dangerous world of Lumenox to defeat an evil entity. These two abilities are at the heart of every level design throughout the game, to make for a challenging and fluid experience. The levels require players to make split second decisions whilst completing fast-paced puzzles.

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  • Developer(s):
    • Lumenox ehf
  • Publisher(s):
    • Lumenox Games
  • Distributor(s):
    • PlayStation Store
  • Release Date(s):
    • 08 April, 2015
  • PEGI Rating:
    • 7+
  • Official Site(s):
  • Player(s):
    • 1
  • Online Player(s):
    • N/A

Technical Information

  • Supported Video Output:
    • 1080p
  • Game Format:
    • Digital Download
  • DualShock Compatible:
    • DualShock 4
  • Average Playing Time:
    • 4 Hours
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Aaru’s Awakening was developed by the team at Lumenox and released on the PlayStation 4 in April of 2015. This 2D platforming experience sought to emulate some of the oldschool side scrollers that began to make noise in the PC gaming world. Titles like Limbo and Bastion put it out there that a cult niche of gamers was yearning for solid platforming actions. These old school titles blended new school elements to make inventive, creative, and dramatic story telling experiences. Enter Aaru’s Awakening.

The team at Lumenox have not made themselves well known to the gaming community at large so an artistic 2D platformer was the perfect vessel to get their name in the public mouth. We picked up our copy for the Xbox One and dove right into what we hoped would be a riveting adventurous experience.

Upon first booting up Aaru’s Awakening we were struck by the hand drawn art style that permeated the game. Riveting colors, finely detailed textures, and a constantly evolving vibe kept our eyes glued to the screen. Lumenox used color changes, as derived by the Day/Dawn/Dusk/Night cycle to create something that had both personality and functional usage. The art is vibrant and beautiful and we were immediately drawn in. Before we dive into the gameplay, which had more than its fair share of hiccups, we want to say that the team at Lumenox put their value in graphics over gameplay and it is easy to see why - this is a gorgeous experience.

You play as Aaru, a creature that looks sort of like a bear but who has the walking ability of a human. You have a long mane and tail and you rumble along the map, clunky yet somehow graceful with the way that the character is drawn. You have a rushing maneuver that allows you to pick up speed and you can also shoot out an orb that you can teleport to, launching your body across greater distances than you would otherwise be able to travel. These are the two core mechanics by way with which you explore this colorful world. They are immediately interesting, definitely able to strategize with, but definitively sloppy in execution.

Merely watching a gameplay video on YouTube will reveal how important finesse and fine tuned movement is to succeeding in Aaru’s Awakening. You want to be able to turn, jump, and stop on a dime or else face the ultimate consequence. Unfortunately Aru himself is not easy to control and the responses from control inputs are also not competitive. He is a profoundly non fluid individual who makes the game harder than it should be, but not hard enough to appeal to the hardest of hardcore gamers out there. We rest in the middle of no-mans land, too hard for casual gamers yet too easy for the intense among us.

The core of your gameplay experience will involve exploring the world, avoiding traps, and catapulting yourself around the different puzzles that end up in your way. Our biggest problems come not just from these puzzles, but also from the art direction and application in the game. One of the most basic elements of a strong platformer is the ability to make split second decisions based on what you know of the world around you. You have to be able to identify which elements you can touch and interact with and which ones are merely there to be background art. Unfortunately the two blend back and forth together in Aaru’s Awakening and this causes more confusion and casualties than should be acceptable out of a finished product. Soon you begin not to trust even the most basic of your movements which makes each death feel cheap and unearned - the worst kind of all in a video game.

So lacking the solid fundamentals that make most platformers even playable, Aaru has to excel in some other way. Sure the artwork is incredible but there are too many issues that permeate the experience to really enjoy it. We disliked the way that the game surprised our little character with results before warning us that they were coming. Jumping from one branch to another area of the game is often a surprise, as the camera is out of view and shielding us from seeing what we are about to land on. So instead of safety we land in a gutter of spikes, or down an endless pit to death. It’s hard to shake the feeling that Lumenox wanted us to fail and worse, they wanted us to fail no matter how ward we tried to succeed.

So what we have here is a game that exists and thrives on trial and error and the understanding that everything will be difficult, though not on purpose. What do you get for succeeding in this avenue? Well, you do get to climb up the online leaderboards and chase the competition. The ones that live on top of these challenge boards truly earned their spot there and that could be a source of pride for the gamer that wants to do everything well. And to be fair there are some nice things about the game that we found to make up for some of the other bigger issues.

For example, the controls in the game are able to be swapped around. Creating a control scheme that appeals to you can go a long way toward improving upon your ability, if you feel inclined to do so. Switch the bumpers around until you feel comfortable with your choices. We also loved the teleportation skill because it is rather unique and a fresh spin on the platforming genre as a whole. Hardcore mode is also an interesting addition but we found ourselves incapable of even attempting to beat the game in one life due to the nature of the difficulty.

At the end of the day what we have here is an extensive (23 level) experience that pushes gamers past their breaking point. This is an interesting visual platformer that is just too inconsistent in execution to be worth playing.

Submitted by Cheat Title Rating
profile Moderator Unlockable Trophies.
Jun 14, 2015

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