Aggelos for the Nintendo Switch Review: Aggsolutely Amazing
It seems like these days the only indie games on the market are pixel art retro throwbacks. Shovel Knight and the like. Some would say there’s too many, and I would agree. The games of then are dated and very frustrating not because our games have gotten easier (although they sort of have) but because games were designed to be nearly impossible, a relic of the old arcade days. It seems that not many developers make retro games without the retro challenge. Aggelos shows that it is possible to have a retro game with old looks that doesn’t include old mechanics.
The Simple Premise
With a story basically being a stereotypical JRPG plot (Aggelos is billed as an RPG after all) you might not think much of the game. While the plot is the typical “go get the elemental powers to stop the evil emperor” the game is anything but typical. On the surface, gameplay looks simple as the plot. You jump onto platforms, attack enemies, and repeat. No, it is an RPG. With an interconnected map (no levels per se, a large but familiar map) and leveling up, Aggelos starts to show its true colors. Defeating enemies will add experience points to your character, and enough points means more power and defense. But if you die, the main thing you lose is experience. The more you die, the more you lose. It’s not easy to die, but the game punishes carelessness, a good choice in my opinion.
Aggelos involves jumping and attacking enemies. While traveling across the game world, you’ll acquire new abilities, magics, and equipment. The point is to defeat the bad guy in the end. Sounds like an old game, huh? It’s a little more than that, though.
With that out of the way, I’ll discuss the “modern conveniences” that this “retro” game has.
Aggelos has some cool mechanics that from first glance look normal- health, different equipment, starting points, etc. But they’re more than that.
With more hearts means more life, yes, but an enemy doesn’t take out say, a quarter of a heart, a half, or a whole. Depending on your defense stat, it could be 1/15th of a heart. Why is this cool? It means no cheap shots. When you level up, your ability to take larger hits increases. When you gain a new heart, you just get to take more hits.
The equipment isn’t just that it gets better each new upgrade, there are unique quirks for each weapon. For example, the katana has a large reach. The bubble sword, when underwater, does more damage and shoots three bubbles. Things like this show care and detail in Aggelos.
Real big one here. Convenient save points that fully heal and replenish your magic. This is literally what makes Aggelos so bearable. Oh yeah, if you die in a dungeon you start from the beginning of the dungeon, how nice!
Swords and Magic
Throughout the game you will learn new moves and magic. For example, the first new sword ability is to point your sword down onto an enemy in midair. There’s more, and you’ll learn them as you progress through the story. As for the magic system, every time you complete one of the elemental dungeons, the same power is given to you. It’s more than simple gimmicks and more than just a new weapon. They usually have more than one purpose. The Earth ability turns light orbs into platforms, but also enemies after being defeated.
I felt that the swordplay and magic integration were handled very well. The swordplay especially. It’s got some depth but it does not attempt to be big, complex, or grand. It’s just a sword, I don’t need fancy Street Fighter moves or light and heavy attacks. I played Aggelos to relax, and the sword play was interesting and not frustrating at all.
I’m the Map
The world in Aggelos is not the most unique world, but for gameplay, it’s varied. A water world, caves, mountains, etc. They all bring new ideas to the player’s plate. It’s also interconnected with some backtracking. Traversing the map became second nature when I played it, it’s not too difficult but there are surprises littered everywhere. It’s a balance to create a game that isn’t too easy but is still relaxing, in my opinion.
I’d like to talk about the relaxing factor of Aggelos. If I said it was just relaxing, you might think that equals “too easy”. That is not what I am trying to get across. Point is, the mechanics are fluid, map is familiar, and the game isn’t tense except maybe at boss battles. I was able to play at my bed at night, very tired, and enjoy Aggelos without tensing up or getting frustrated or overwhelmed.
While other Wonder Boy remakes are out there, even with hand drawn graphics and new systems, Aggelos is just as good- good being phenomenal. The nice thing is, it’s only $15. Yes it is pixelated, and yes it does look old. But it’s pretty chill and modern. I highly recommend Aggelos.
You can find the details for Aggelos here.
Reviewed by Jack Bankhead on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by pQube.