Aragami sneaks onto the Xbox One with the Shadow Edition which includes the Nightfall expansion.
While stealth games have become somewhat hard to find over recent years, plenty of titles instead give you an option of stealth, Aragami is a very different beast because if you try going in all
guns blades blazing, you’re going to die, very quickly.
Aragami is all about light and dark, and gives a nod to many games in the genre such as Tenchu and Thief, moving from shadow to shadow is simple, but out in the light you’ll have limited abilities to avoid your many pursuers.
Starting off you’re introduced to the third-person gameplay, and Aragami’s swish cloak which changes colour when he’s hidden and fills to show how much shadow power he has stored, you’ll quickly learn the basics including a teleport move which let’s you jump to a nearby location as long as it’s covered in darkness.
This first half hour eases you in to the game without posing too much trouble, but you’ll want to make sure you master movement as things soon get tricky when there’s a dozen guards searching for you. There’s always the option of sneaking past, but you’ll occasionally want to take-down your would-be pursuers and there’s a variety of options as long as you can get close enough.
Sneaking around, jumping between shadows and trying to coax guards into a secluded spot before you move on soon becomes integral to progression and there’s a handful of abilities such as being able to chime a bell to distract, or cast a shadow to warp to. While it’s sometimes tempting to try to work through the level taking out every guard, you’ll soon end up attracting a little too much attention and a single hit will end your voyage sending you back to the start of the mission.
Aragami forces the payer to take it easy, there’s no rushing in and while you’ll sometimes find a fluent flow through a section, you’ll more often be scrutinising every jump and corner to keep concealed.
The cell-shaded world works incredibly well making sure Aragami stands out to the player, even when cast in complete darkness, some might question why a glowing cloak can’t be seen by the guards, but it’s an effective way of minimising the user interface while keeping darkness a little more inviting for our ninja. Locations are well designed providing various paths to each goal and while the search for new artefacts does take you across a few similar areas there’s mostly great variety across the duration of the campaign.
For a stealth-ninja title, there’s plenty of atmospheric sounds and you’ll often be able to listen in on surrounding guards which helps with audible clues as to when you’re free to move forward, moving is generally a smooth, fluent procedure but you can occasionally get bogged down in one area, sitting around while you wait for guards patrols to clear a path.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Aragami and the added expansion adds to the value, but at times it just seems to wrestle itself down to the ground, one minute is smooth, fluent, ninja-esque and full of DVR moments, while others it’s slow, methodical and patience testing, both work incredibly well, but hinder each other to equal measures, I’ve lost count how many times I’d be drifting through a section of one level, only to realise I was cornered, had no idea what paths the guards would take and had to painstakingly judge every movement so I could find a safe spot in the shadows.
As the game progresses, shadows become harder to find, and guards more plentiful, these delays will test your patience, but if you head into the game with a little more caution than I did, you might find it negligible to the enjoyment.
The only major annoyance for me, was the camera system, there’s a few areas where precision is key and especially when you’re jumping around the rafters of a building or trying to judge a tricky platforming section, I found the camera angle/control as a culprit for death. Thankfully it didn’t happen enough to be game-breaking, but when you can often spend half an hour meticulously working your way to the next checkpoint, having anything other than user-error finish you off feels like a steel-toed kick in the balls.
Overall, Aragami has been a fun experience which sits in a pretty unique place of full-on stealth since so many titles recently move from core stealth gameplay to merely a choice within an open world.