While I was waiting on 'Omega Quintet' to download I figured I'd give 'Aaru's Awakening' a sample, and post my impressions of the findings for you guys. For those of you who are unaware of it this indie exclusive was released for free download to PS+ subscribers on Tuesday of this week. Lumenox Studio, for some reason decided to release it in a similar way as Roll7 did for the new OlliOlli2 game. I figure it has something to do with them getting paid upfront by Sony for each download instead of relying on PSN customers to actually pay for the game. While that's a sad way to go about it I know that not many gamers are willing to take a chance on indies, especially at a higher marked price. In that sense it may very well have been a smart business decision by Lumenox. As far as the game goes you'll find that the graphic art style, and the competitive speed run based gameplay is this title's shining features. Outside of that the story intro which was told by a child voice actor/actress did little to get me hyped for the experience ahead. Their monotonous tone throughout the narrative, made the story being told forgettable, and dull.
All I gathered from the plot driven intro narrative was that there were four god-like brothers named after the times of day (Dusk, Dawn, ...), and that they were at odds with one another. Dawn, for some reason decided to awaken a living weapon known as Aaru to combat the threats against him. Oddly this threat avoidance, and followed up combat is done by speeding through hazard filled metroidvania style levels while teleporting into enemies, and destroying them in the process. Along the way checkpoints must be activated, and deadly environmental threats avoided all while an offscreen timer is counting upwards. Your reward for a speedy, and flawless playthrough is either a bronze, silver, or gold medal along with a placed ranking on the game's global leaderboard. Your PSN ID, and time completion for each level's playthrough is marked on the main menu leaderboard listings with the top five players always being the visible ones.
As far as the game's mechanics go Lumenox opted to make the challenge geared towards the management of controls. The control scheme, which can be tweaked to your liking has Aaru's movement (L. Thumbstick), and direction (R. Thumbstick) assigned to the dual thumbsticks in a shump like fashion. Jumping, which is awkwardly placed initially is tied to the (L1) bumper/shoulder button while (R1) tosses a teleportation orb that is used for gaining ground on hard to reach places as well as for teleporting inside enemy creatures, and destroying them. After the teleportation orb is launched via a charge (holding down of R1), or by a quickly aimed press with the (R. Thumbstick) as a guide you will have to follow up with a pressing of (R2) to teleport Aaru in said direction. Let me not forget to also mention that double tapping (L1) ahas a unique function that it will cause Aaru to do an aerial dash which can be used to get to hard to reach platforms, or blast through destructible walls. As I said though this control setup can be tweaked to your liking, and can be made easier to manage if you so choose, via the options menu.
While I'm not really a fan of the challenge being geared towards creature control management I can understand why Lumenox chose to do things in this manner as it is complimentary to the speed run theme. My only complaints, if any, are the fact that the story felt unimportant compared to the actual gameplay. I do love the art style, and feel that the challenge/speed run aspect of the game is one that will give this game a decent replay value despite the lack of quality storytelling. With that being said though I have not played much past the first three areas, and in all honesty am not keen on continuing to do so. I'm not a fan of games that are made difficult through controls. Who knows though. Perhaps one day soon I might return to it just to see how the game ends, and if the story element is improved upon later on into the game.