Anyone who has taken notice of the indie scene over the past few years knows that 8 and 16-bit games are making a bit of a resurgence. Many of them are clearly inspired by many classic games that I played as a kid. One of those games I was quite fond of was the Wonder Boy series on the Sega Master System which I played through multiple times. So safe to say any new game that comes out today that draws inspiration from it will get my attention. Aggelos from developer Storybird games and publisher PQube is very much like Wonder Boy and I enjoyed that about it very much.
You take control of a knight in this 16-bit Metroidvania, open world and not long into the game save Princess Lys who is fleeing from a monster. Once you manage to be her knight in shining armor she asks you to find her father, who is the king of Lumen, and then go on an adventure to find four elemental objects before the forces of evil do in order to save the world. The story is pretty much what you would expect from a title such as this but the gameplay here is far more important.
You are free to explore this world as you wish and so I did while killing enemies along the way, traversing the environment, and talking with various NPCs. Combat in the game feels great as I swung my sword left and right attacking enemies with it. Later on I gained to ability to perform a downward stab with it making me dangerous even while in the air. You also gain special abilities that can be used both in and out of fights. These include fireballs, the ability to make air bubbles, an ability that lets you turn enemies into platforms and so on. Out of a fight you might use the bubble power to float in the air on land or to breath underwater but in a fight you can use it and explode it to deal damage to your enemies. I really enjoyed gaining each new one and then testing it out in every way I possibly could.
Temples you come to are where you’ll find the elemental objects you seek and where you’ll further be tested as you try to make it past obstacles and make it to the boss room. I died a couple times in these but the game doesn’t punish you really for it. If you die in a temple for instance all that happens is you are placed back at the start and you lose a little bit of your XP. Fighting the bosses in these temples was what I really enjoyed as they not only are the best looking things in the game but also challenge you to use your full suite of powers to defeat them.
Every enemy you face and defeat in the game grants you XP that will automatically level up your health bar and defense over time. If you ever find yourself struggling you can even farm enemies by exploiting one of the design choices. That choice is that every time you leave a screen and then return to it all of the enemies that you defeated will be back. This too can be annoying but it’s also a great way to fight enemies over and over and gain XP quickly. Coins can also be gathered and spent on new gear from NPCs in the world. These new weapons and armor you acquire can then be equipped by pulling up your inventory screen and selecting them. This is also where you’ll find your potions and other such items.
The world is big but not too big to be intimidating which is probably good considering you don’t have a mini map to guide you at all. This could be frustrating to some as you can’t keep track of where you have and haven’t been already nor where certain things may be in the world. It’s a design choice meant to make the game feel more like the Wonder Boy games it was inspired by and I was fine with it. I enjoyed going back through the world and using newly acquired powers to open up paths that were previously blocked off to me. The game isn’t short either as it took me 10+ hours in order to 100% complete it.
The graphics in the game look great for the art style they chose to go with. It’s very colorful and the boss battles in particular were some of my favorite designs and things about the game. The soundtrack is a chiptune one that sounds great and brought back memories of playing these kinds of games as a kid. For the trophy hunters out there the game has 29 trophies in total including a Platinum. Some come from story progression, some from hitting various levels, and some from collecting objects. A few will test you such as beating the game on hard, finishing 100% without dying and finishing the game under level 15.
Like I said in the opening I loved Monster Boy as a kid and Aggelos brought back those fond memories of it while playing through it. It’s a great Metroidvania, action RPG with beautiful retro graphics and audio and fun combat and abilities. A couple old school mechanics may turn some away but otherwise this is a quality title.
*Aggelos is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Beautiful, colorful retro art style and chiptune soundtrack
- Has a Metroidvania world that is fun to explore and discover its secrets
- Fun and responsive traversal and combat mechanics
- Lack of a mini map can make it hard to know where you've been
- Respawning enemies when you leave and re-enter a scene