Video games, like all mediums, have their limits. The ability to create something fun, beautiful, original and entertaining within those limits takes a lot of skill, knowledge and effort. Aggelos is a fantastic piece of work with retro gameplay which takes a player on a perfect ride through gaming history gold.
After saving a princess, a young man is given the charge to fight through four elemental temples to find the essence of each element in order to thwart the plan of an evil warlord who had just done the same thing. This game's story is wonderfully told. The text based story telling with 16-bit noises moves at a great pace. The story conversations are short, to the point and entertaining. The movement of the story and gameplay is perfectly balanced. Don’t expect any VGA level writing, but it does the job and gives the player enough incentive to play and feel like a hero.
Put simply, Aggelos does everything right. The smooth gameplay and progression of leveling up abilities and strength is impressive. This game must have been playtested an incredible amount to move so wonderfully. Aggelos is a classic side scroller RPG and for this review we’ll assess the combat, map exploration, platforming and bosses.
The combat is consistently smooth. Having a basic sword slash for most of the game with added abilities allows the player to focus on the core mechanics while adding spices of ranged attacks and other abilities that can even change with the environment. All the enemies are fair to play against, they will telegraph attacks appropriately and the player can eventually run through enemies like a hot knife through butter while not taking a sliver of damage.
The map is a vast 2D map, but the areas are small enough to travel from place to place without wasting much time. It is a blast to explore every nook and cranny of the map for new places to explore and even a few secret rooms or things. Overall the map system works wonderfully, the spacing between towns and savepoints is fair and challenging while not being brutal.
Jumping from place to place feels great. The character slides just a little bit when landing at full momentum, which can throw some platorming pros off at first, but it feels great overall and feel good to play for hours. I never felt cheated by poor level design, unresponsive controls or odd mechanics. It just feels good to play Aggelos.
Boss battles are always a tricky thing, it is easy to make a simple boss with a large health bar, or a boss that is way too difficult which resort to dumb luck to win. Luckily, Aggelos is it fair balance between endurance and skill with a tiny bit of luck. The bosses feel tough and creative while being entertaining and exhilarating. They might not hit the height of the best of Mega Man or Cuphead bosses, but they are well-crafted and some are very memorable.
Aggelos exudes personality and flair. Even with its strict confines to the 16-bit, the game uses bright colors, a wide variety of environments, NPCs, and enemies to bring the game to life. As mentioned above, the game uses the simple visuals to its advantage by making character stick out and teach the player how to move through the environment correctly to avoid death and explore easily.
All the sounds, music and voices are crisp, glitchy sounds, it’s amazingly awesome through the whole game. All the sounds and songs are well enough varied that they constantly feel entertaining and fresh, and yet I love getting back to each area and listening to the same song over and over again.
The game’s initial runthrough isn’t very long, the game progresses at a great pace and the player is always entertained by the new abilities, areas and enemies. Going back to play again will primarily be for speed runs or sharing with people for the first time. There isn’t much of a reason to go back overall, but it would be just as fun to play it the first or the fifth time.
What It Could Have Done Better
There isn’t much that I could imagine being better in this game. Some more rewards for exploring various tunnels, room or places would be nice. Almost everywhere has a purpose, but it would be nice to stray off the path a little bit to find extra gold, potions or even cool items.
A true blast from the past that never existed. Aggelos truly takes all the great things from the past and brings them into this game. From excellent sound design to smooth boss fights or the lively spirits to the smart level design, this game really has a lot to offer and PQube and Storybird Games should be proud of their amazing game.