‘Aaru’s Awakening’ teleports platformers to new heights

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Aaru’s Awakening
Lumenox
PC (PS3, PS4–Summer 2015)

Aaru’s Awakening takes our need for speed, crosses it with the fascination of teleportation, and ties it together with gorgeous graphics that lure us to our doom. Which is, of course, why this game is so incredible to play–if you’re up to the challenge, that is.

Inspired by the teleportation gun in Unreal Tournament, Aaru’s Awakening started as a school project at the University of Reykjavík in Iceland. The goal was to create a fast-paced 2-D platformer with teleportation as the main game mechanic. After winning the Icelandic Gaming Industry Game Creator competition, thereby leading to the founding of Lumenox Games, it was clear that Aaru’s Awakening needed to venture out to the rest of the world.

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The story that unfolds in Aaru’s Awakening is one that has told many times before. Players take on the role of Aaru, a mythical creature who serves Dawn. A great evil threatens the world and Aaru must travel through the four realms of Lumenox in order to prevent disaster. Typical good versus evil plotline. Where Aaru’s Awakening really excels is in the gameplay.

Aaru’s Awakening is not for people who like to stop and smell the roses. This is a game that requires fast reflexes, rapid calculations, a lot of patience, and the knowledge that the death screen will appear many, many times. To get a better idea of what lies ahead, take a look at a trailer featuring Day’s Domain.

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This is the first world Aaru visits. Things get far more complicated as the game advances.

Moving at great speeds means that errors are bound to happen. This may prove frustrating when initially navigating levels. Full concentration and top notch hand eye coordination are key. Thankfully, there are plenty of checkpoints along the way, which does eliminate some of the sting of failure. Once players find their groove however, Aaru’s Awakening becomes an exhilarating ride. Players are even encouraged to speed run levels as top scores are recorded on the Global Leader Board.

As the video above illustrates the games driving force is Aaru’s ability to teleport. Aaru accomplishes this feat by projecting his soul outward and then teleporting to the new destination. On PC, this is achieved by holding down the left mouse button to gather energy, releasing when fully charged, and pressing the right mouse button when the soul has reached a desirable destination. When the game hits consoles this summer players will be able to teleport using the shoulder and trigger buttons.

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The other central game mechanic at play is Aaru’s ability to charge. Working as a definite lifesaver when running through levels at break neck speed, charge can act as a double jump, buy precious time, and break walls. Charge also manages to add a burst of speed and ensures the games fluidity, allowing some levels to be completed in a matter of seconds.

When you first start playing you might not even notice the timer in the upper left hand corner, since you’ll be occupied with jumping around to stay alive or admiring the striking combination of traditional hand drawn and digital art that brings Aaru and his world to life. It wasn’t until ten full minutes had passed that I even noticed I was being timed. My first time for the tutorial levels was around twelve minutes, while a more recent run ran a mere 23 seconds. This is the kind of difference that your growing skill will make as you progress.

All in all, Aaru’s Awakening is a beautiful death trap that challenges players to think fast and click faster. There is a demo available for download on Steam for those are interested in giving it a go.

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