The waves of Souls-like Metroidvanias are practically endless, yet the demand for these games remains high. It’s likely the cathartic sense of achievement derived from exploration and challenging victories. Now, developer Aurogon Shanghai is trying their hand at this gameplay philosophy in the upcoming Afterimage.
Afterimage is a stylish and gorgeous 2D action adventure, where players explore the world of Engardin, teeming with spectacle and substance. The presentation is of note here as the early biomes are memorable and distinct to impressive degrees.
The backgrounds and foregrounds are majestic and vibrant, emitting naturalistic beauty I found myself captivated by. This mesmerization extends to the character models with the player character and enemies boasting detail that’s intricate yet never distracting.
Moreover, the soundtrack is best assessed as being atmospheric. While none of the songs stand out in retrospect, they manage to fulfill a vital job in establishing a somber, whimsical ambiance that enhances the drive to explore. And exploring is what one primarily does here. With this title being half-Metroidvania, there are several pathways one can take to reach dead-ends containing items or story-required areas.
Well-timed platforming seems to be a focus of the experience. Obstacles such as traps caused by nearby switches demand players to be mindful of their environment and placement. At points, this felt more akin to a puzzle platformer due to the relative frequency of these sections. Though, I never found myself minding it as the gameplay cycle feels cohesive and natural, primarily thanks to the smooth movement.
Admittedly, there isn’t much variation to Afterimage’s movement, at least not yet. Still, the responsiveness and swiftness of input deserve praise. For instance, the dash maneuver, which players will be utilizing most frequently for quicker navigation and evasion, lacks needless lag-time, so it’s ever-reliable when in a pinch.
Moving on, combat comprises basic swordplay accompanied by additional actions like spells. The swings feel adequate enough, and the spell casting does its job. However, the lack of a guard functionality does feel somewhat awkward at points. Battling enemies who telegraph a strike, and having to haphazardly dodge out of the way mid-scenario feels like it almost muddles the fighting flow.
Perhaps the dodging will be better ingrained in battles when more complicated enemy encounters take place because the standard foes take extra time to defeat. Another critique lies in the translation. There isn’t too much dialogue throughout what is playable here, but what is present drastically varies in quality. Basic grammar and spelling mistakes litter the script and I’m sincerely hoping that the full release remedies these dialogue faults because they took me out of the remarkable atmosphere more often than I’d like to admit.
Afterimage is proving to be an exceptional action title boasting a standout art style, sleek performance, and promising design concepts. However, its translation quality is most worrisome, and I’m yearning for that to be addressed before release.
Afterimage is releasing for PC via Steam in late 2022.
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