Saturday, April 27

Review: Aggelos [Nintendo Switch eShop]


For fans of classic side-scrolling adventures from previous generations the Switch has already got some solid representation. In particular the fully retro but with a gorgeous facelift Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap and the modernized but still classic Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom stand out. Fans of those titles, whether the old or new, should now be thrilled with the arrival of Aggelos as well, a title that feels like it’s a lost contemporary of theirs and that offers up solid and compelling play firmly rooted in that same style.


In order to save the kingdom you’ll need to explore the world, slowly gaining access to new areas as you acquire new abilities, giving it elements of an almost Metroidvania style in some regards. Combat starts out more simply, with you just having your slashing sword attack, but as you conquer different areas and bosses you’ll gain spells that are crucial for taking down tougher enemies and helping to reveal secrets and tough to reach places. For the most part your reward for diligence will be gold which will come in handy for buying better gear that can really help but additional hearts can also be awarded so if you see anything off to the side you should always check it out.


What took me by surprise initially was how cleverly some of the game’s puzzles were put together. Having to carefully approach some of them with a plan which you’ll then need to execute with some precision was unexpected and really helps the game stand out in my mind, though perhaps others could also find this aspect frustrating. Even with the retro graphics and general mechanics this element of challenge may be the one that reminds me most of old school games that could sometimes have roadblocks you’d need the help of a guide or advice from friends to work out, I suppose that being for better or worse.


In terms of complaints there’s always going to be a take it or leave it element with games that are looking to emulate the feel of games from earlier eras. Enemy respawns when you leave the room, the controls not being quite as nuanced as you’d see in modern games, and some unapologetically tough boss battles are either going to bug you or be welcomed with open arms. I do wish that given the somewhat Metroidvania-like exploration in the game that there was a mini map that would help you plot things out, the world overview map is honestly pretty well worthless and that’s a missed opportunity.


Rocking great 16-bit-ish looks, some great chiptune tracks, and plenty of retro gaming feels Aggelos is definitely a title classic gaming fans should adore. Rather than being a remake or a reskin of known classics it feels like a game you’ve always regretted missing out on from that era that you’ve now gotten the change to finally enjoy. As long as you’re prepared for some of its more old school tendencies and challenges it’s an adventure well worth taking.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • Thoroughly looks and feels like a game from the 16-bit era
  • Plenty of places to explore, spells to acquire, and enemies to defeat
  • Blends in Metroidvania elements with areas you’ll be able to get to once you acquire new abilities

Cons:
  • Can be unapologetically challenging and even frustrating at times
  • With the exploration aspect a usable map would have been a big help
  • Some of the classic elements it remains faithful to may not be missed