Getting itself through the arduous journey of Steam Greenlight, Aggelos is set to tickle your nostalgia bone in ways you wouldn’t believe
Harkening back to the SNES and Megadrive, that’s the Sega Genesis for our American readers, Aggelos has a basic story. Bad dude is doing bad things so go stop him. You must gather all the elements as thankfully you’re one of the few people who can be used as a conduit for them, combine them into the Light essence and go kick some big evil ass. Obviously not War & Peace, but the main draw to Aggelos isn’t the story, but rather the gameplay.
What happens when you combine Castlevania 2: Simons Quest, Zelda 2: The Adventure Of Link and Alex Kidd in Miracle World? Aggelos is the answer.
The gameplay loop in Aggelos is a simple one, move to the left and right, hit enemies, rinse and repeat, and although it’s simple, it doesn’t stop being satisfying. As you progress through the game, you find different masters that teach you extra abilities, from a downward spike attack that lets you bounce on monsters heads and deal damage, to a rising sword slash that ends up being used more like a double jump. Hints of Metroidvania seep through Aggelos, as navigating back to previous areas after acquiring new skills usually leads to new items, money or more health. Also you basically pick up heart containers to get more health, Legend Of Zelda eat your heart out.
A levelling up system is in place, seemingly making you hit a little harder, though the only time I really paid much attention to it was when I was on a single hit of health and managed to kill a boss, level up and be back to full health. Admittedly, there was more than a few times I had to rely on a cheeky level up to save my ass.
Money also plays a part in Aggelos, though we can all let out a collective sigh of relief as it’s nothing like Castlevania 2: Simons Quest in that regard. Feel free to die and not lose all your money. Though some items can be a little bit of a grind to be able to afford, the money you gain certainly ramps up as you progress so you won’t have to grind the same few screens for hours just to grab a new shiny sword.
While the controls are responsive, I did have some issues with using my keyboard to control myself. The game does allow controller support, but my Xbox controller did nothing when trying to use it and I don’t think it’s fair to use joy2key, which is recommended on the site, while reviewing Aggelos, as it’s an auxiliary program and not part of the actual game.
Musically, Aggelos starts off superbly as it clearly and excellently pays homage to it’s inspired time period. As you navigate to new areas the music changes, setting the mood for the tasks to come. While this is grand, again due to the time period it’s emulating, you also get a lot of repetition. The elemental dungeons feature the same chiptune bop, though it seems that in this case, it’s used to tie them all together thematically and it works well.
Unfortunately there’s definitely more than one occasion where you’re navigating between the different areas of Aggelos only to have the overworld music punching you in the face over and over again. Perhaps it’s less grating if you play through the game in more than one sitting, but maybe that says more about me than I care to admit.
As anyone who played anything from older generations will know, challenge, difficulty and obscurity are part and parcel for games of this era, so naturally you’d expect the same from Aggelos.
While Aggelos isn’t massively obscure in it’s approach, thank fuck you don’t have to kneel at the side of a mountain while holding a gem just to be carried away on a whirlwind, it doesn’t make progression as clear as it could. While you always have the option of talking to a fortune teller as a means of finding your way, it would’ve been nice to have Aggelos be a little clearer at times. Having the Fortune teller say “There’s a locked door in the forest” is a little obtuse, especially when it only leads to an item that you then need to use somewhere else entirely.
Difficulty also isn’t much of a factor in Aggelos, at least not until the latter portion of the game. Enemies walk and attack in predictable patterns early on, with bosses also having clear patterns and discernible weaknesses that just require a little patience. Most of the challenge seems to come from the second act, where new monsters are added to the world. They mostly have frustrating patterns and tend to swarm the player. While it begins as a welcome change, it does become a little tedious the more you deal with them.
Graphically. Aggelos, stays true to it’s inspirations. Aggelos is bright and colourful, while not straying too heavily in the garish direction. Aggelos also features one of my favourite graphical flourishes. When you change your armour or weapon, the character model is changed to reflect what you’ve put on. Why this feature isn’t in everything that allows equipment changes is beyond me, as although it’s just a simple, little touch, it makes the world of difference to me. Enemy design is simple, with some of the later enemies seemingly rushed and basically being glorified outlines. This does tend to make Aggelos feel a little rushed, which is a massive shame as the rest of the game is so polished.
Aggelos is a wonderful romp down memory lane that has more than a few surprises up it’s sleeve. It brought a smile to my face as it reminded me of a childhood long past. While it might not appeal to a younger audience, with it’s many nods to relics of gamings past, the older, more nostalgic gamer will almost certainly find something to love. While the the design of some of the enemies gets a little uninspired as you get further, Aggelos is a fun, new trip down memory lane.