When I think of musical instruments I imagine harmonious music, rows of orchestra members all lined up in their penguin suits and of course musical notes. AereA takes all of this and throws it out the window and brings its own new definition of musical instruments, with them ranging from weapons to various construction equipment. AereA is definitely unique.
Storywise AereA is not very unique, the world has been torn apart into multiple floating islands and it’s up to you under Maestro Guido’s tutorship to collect the nine primordial instruments to bring the world together and to save the day. Very simple and feels like it’s just there to facilitate the gameplay which is very disappointing as it has so much potential but is wasted.
You are given the choice of which musical warrior to set out as: Wolff a harp archer, Jacques a knight wielding a chello, Jules a mage or Claude with a gun trumpet. As you could figure out the classes revolve their weapons and fall within the typical structure of dungeon crawlers. Each class comes with their own unique abilities they can unlock as they level up; speaking of leveling up the game features two different XPs: character and instrument XP. Leveling up also earns Tuning Points (aka TP); character TP is automatically applied and instrument TP has to be distributed manually.
When it comes to actually playing the game it doesn’t do much to set itself apparent from the dungeon crawler ARPG crowd. The level layouts are very simple and feel very linear with not much exploration potential. As expected there’s a lot of creature bashing which other than XP also rewards the player with Clefines which are gold musical notes that are used as the games currency. The levels also include environmental hazards like ground spikes, lava, quick sand, etc. and simplistic puzzles like moving boxes and lever pulling.
The game has a beautiful art style which is highlighted by clean and crisp textures which really helps to pull you into the world. Not surprisingly the game has a fantastic soundtrack which fits perfectly in the game’s world and really shows the passion that went into this game.
My first and most frustrating issue was navigating the world, the mini map is tucked in the corner and is the only map in the game. This led to a lot of time being spent just trying to find the correct path that the tiny arrow is pointing at on the map. It also led to me putting the controller down or switching games as I didn’t really know what to do or where to go. Another issue is sort of linked to the first, the game doesn’t do a good job of letting you know what to do next so much time was wasted trying to figure out what’s supposed to be done or what I’m supposed to pick up. Another major issue is the game is just meh, it’s nothing special and with so many different options in this genre there needs to be a greater effort in standing out and being unique in more than just their art style and concept; gameplay matters.
Overall AereA does a lot to be unique but falls short where it matters. The audio-visual parts of the game are fantastic with a whimsical art style and wonderful music that really immersed me while playing that is before I ran into problems. Mainly that the game doesn’t have a map menu where I could zoom in or zoom out and mark waypoints or anything which lead to a lot of issues and quitting. Lastly the game is just boring, it’s the same old same old without the brand name or any hook, with games like Diablo and Victor Vran this isn’t something I’d recommend.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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