Sunday, February 5, 2017

Indie Impressions - Alwa's Awakening

Alwa's Awakening

Now Available on Steam

Developed by Elden Pixels

The land of Alwa needs a hero. It's power is fading and its towns are broken and disjointed. Our hooded protagonist awakens with not much memory of herself, and an elder resident of Alwa informs you of the lands' impending doom. With no power, no abilities, and no recollection of your whereabouts, it's up to you to scour the wide and open map for sources of power and the terrifying guardians who protect them.

A Metroidvania with a huge, beautiful world holding many secrets and shortcuts. Everything you would expect from an excellent 8-bit sidescroller of this nature is present from the exploration, the tight combat, and the challenging platforming. Alwa's Awakening sets itself apart from the 8-bit platforming of old by mixing it up with the addition of block-pushing puzzles that feel akin to some kind of a sidescrolling Adventures of Lolo. The obstacles are difficult and eventually require the usage of combined abilities, and the platforming ranges from relaxing to rage-inducing. Luckily Alwa's Awakening's controls are responsive and smooth allowing for pitch perfect mid-air control during jumps that make the rather difficult platforming fun and engaging, as opposed to stiff and repetitive.

Just like any good Metroidvania or more recently, the "SoulsBorne" games, the game takes place in one large interconnected world. Exploring is mandatory, and lots of backtracking will be done of the satisfying variety. With each earned ability your exploration into previously conquered areas is rewarded through the discovery of newly accessible secrets and more of the power-granting blue orbs. New shortcuts from desolate areas are discovered giving that awe-inspiring and rewarding metroidvania and Dark Souls feel of grand discovery, and making long and complicated treks much easier in the future.

For anyone with a keen ear for 8-bit chiptunes and sounds Alwa is a nostalgic ear-gasm. Not just from the crisp and upbeat Famicom-era soundtrack, but the warm and crunchy retro-game sound effects that evoke total nostalgia. The tunes might not be Journey to Silius levels of energetic, but their hyper and bright retro mood comes very close. Everything about Alwa's Awakening is authentic, the visuals and the sounds giving flashbacks of everything from Faxanadu to Ufouria.

As incredibly rewarding and addictive as it is to explore the depths of ruins and the crumbling towers of Alwa's world, the payoff for your adventuring here are the bosses and the power-bearing gems they hold. With each defeated guardian of an area comes the epiphany that areas previously unreachable are now reachable. Discovered shortcuts now have an exciting purpose, and beckon the player back to what was once out of reach to discover new secrets and routes.

Alwa's Awakening is an excellent addition to the Metroidvania genre. It stays authentic to its roots while mixing things up with a variety of puzzle elements through the usage of clever abilities.The pixel artwork is beautiful and some of the most detailed of its kind, and the music is infectious enough to have to humming along for the entirety of your journey. A must have for retro enthusiasts and an easily accessible treat for the more modern of players to enjoy, as well.

Playthrough Part One:

 Playthrough Part Two:

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