Aragami: Shadow Edition Review

From developer Lince Works comes Aragami, a third-person stealth game that puts you in the role of a demonic assassin summoned into existence to seek vengeance against wrongdoers. Taking inspiration from classic titles, such as Tenchu, Splinter Cell and many other stealth games from the olden days, Aragami and its DLC bundle has arrived to the Switch, aptly titled as Aragami: Shadow Edition.

Taking place in a feudal Japan era, the player assumes the role of the titular Aragami, a demonic spirit of vengeance, summoned from the depth of shadows by a mysterious woman to defeat the tyrannical army of Light. Fighting head-on against such powerful enemies is unwise, so instead you have to rely on shadows and stealth to dispatch enemies that stand in your way or to just simply slip past unseen.

Make no mistake, combat is not an option here. Aragami is a pure stealth game in every aspect. Despite that lethal looking sword in your demonic ninja’s hand, you cannot engage in a duel with anyone. Trying to fight head-on will just end up alerting enemies who will instantly vaporize you in one hit. Thus, you are forced to use stealth as the only solution in the game.

As a creature born from darkness, Aragami can harness the power of shadows to his advantage. At the beginning of the game, he can teleport between shadows almost instantly. You have to make use of this handy ability to effectively assassinate any adversaries. As the game progresses, you will find several skill scrolls scattered throughout the stages to learn additional abilities to increase your odds of winning. Utilizing Shadow Skills consumes your “Shadow Essence” which is depicted as a glowing glyph on your cape. The essence quickly regenerates if you’re hiding in the shadows but it will bleed out once you step into well-lit areas.

Each mission plays out more like a puzzle set-piece than a true stealth game. A typical goal is to reach a certain point in the map but there are several guards patrolling in between to stop you. Learning the movement patterns of patrolling guards is crucial to your success. It’s worth mentioning that you aren’t required to eliminate all enemies. You can win most missions by just sneaking past them, except for the ones with bosses. You will get a score and a rank for your performance at the end of each mission.

Unfortunately, the enemy AI is dumb as a box of rocks. While they do react to certain elements, like finding a dead body or hearing noises, they never do so organically. If a guard finds a dead body in a pool of blood six feet away, he will just loudly exclaim whether or not his friend is sleeping before coming to take a look. Chime a bell near a wall and the guard will just come to stare at the wall to see what’s wrong - if he’s not stuck on a lamp-post on his way.

At this point, you might be wondering, the game might be easy if the enemies are this dumb. Wrong! To make up for its imbecile AI, the game just throws in a lot of guards in relatively small maps. What they say about never underestimating the power of stupid people in large numbers is true here. One dumb AI stumbling upon a dead body is not a big deal but if several guards start to exclaim whether or not their friend is sleeping, you’re in big trouble. That’s not all. The game is stingy with checkpoints as well. It’s downright disheartening to fail after clearing a few areas and the game sends you right back to the beginning.

During my play, I encountered a few dips in frame rate here and there. Aside from that, the game runs pretty well on the Switch, both docked and in a hand-held mode. The game also has extremely rough edges with PS1-era AI and uninspired level designs, which casual players will not easily forgive. When all is said and done, Aragami is a serviceable stealth game overall. Stealth/puzzle combo has its own merit and will appeal to hardcore stealth game fans for sure.

Lv-99 simple sheep