Aragami strives to be the ninja stealth game everyone has always wanted, but how well does it deliver on that goal? Developed by Lince Works, Aragami can be considered a well-known indie title, and for good reason.
Feeling like a ninja
Aragami is a game that truly shines as a pure stealth game with its core gameplay mechanics as unlike most stealth games, the player takes control of a spirit which has supernatural powers controlling the darkness. These powers are based on “Shadow essence”, which the player regains while staying in shadows, making lighting a vital part of Aragami. Bright light drains shadow essence, and in certain cases may also kill the protagonist as well, therefore they should be avoided at all costs. Some of the supernatural powers the spirit has include: creating shadows, teleporting to shadows, making corpses disappear, summoning otherwordly beasts and many, many more. Despite shadows being a core element of the game, I felt there was lots of untapped potential regarding them. Shadows never moved and felt more like static images more than anything. Despite this I found the gameplay to be rather fun, mostly thanks to versatility of the tools provided. If anything it does truly make you feel like you’re controlling a powerful ninja who sticks to the shadows.
The animations were one of the parts of Aragami I found myself loving at times and hating other times. The animations that are commonly used such as taking down guards, crouching and running are smooth and well-made. On the other hand I found myself amazed at how bad the one-off animations for cutscenes and boss battles were, often taking a lot of the enjoyment away from those moments. This was the most apparent in the later segments of the game.
I found the enemy variety disappointing. In the main game you will only encounter 2 types of enemies outside bosses and other special one-off enemies: Archers and swordsmen. The only way the challenge scales up as you advance further into the story is that more guards will appear.
The first thing that stood out to me about the game was its Japanese aesthetic. While pleasant to look at, I felt that areas looked rather similar to each other. This was not helped by the fact that many assets with their respective gimmicks are reused throughout Aragami. Most areas didn’t feel unique and as a result weren’t memorable.
A story about a spirit raised for a sole purpose
The main story revolves around a spirit which was called upon to set the empress free by collecting all off the talismans that got scattered across many fortresses. As talismans are collected more and more of the empresses’ backstory is revealed. Aragami contains a massive plot twist that is made obvious as soon as the third chapter, yet the protagonist is oblivious to this and continues acting like he doesn’t know a thing. I considered this especially frustrating as the game rubs salt in the wound in the way it reveals the plot twist. The story is nothing too special. If you are interested in the story alone you will be sorely disappointed by Aragami.
Despite the story being predictable and the animations being unpleasant at times, I enjoyed the game as a whole for its fun stealth gameplay. I’d recommend anyone who likes stealth games as well as values gameplay over story and cutscenes to give Aragami a shot.
Aragami can be found on Steam here.