Review: Aaero (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Aaero
Format: PSN (946 MB)
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Reverb Triple XP
Developer: Mad Fellows
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Aaero is a simple game that provides an interesting take on a twin-stick shooter while adding in some quasi-rhythm elements to the mix. If nothing else, the game is definitely unique and I was drawn to those aspects when I first saw it at PSX last year.

The comparison to a twin-stick shooter comes from the control setup. Much like that genre, Aaero you use the left stick to move your ship and the right stick to aim weapons. However, this is far from a typical twin-stick shooter.

Instead, your ship is constantly moving down a set path. Moving and aiming essentially just slide the ship and aiming reticle in a circle around the sides of screen.

There are two main gameplay sections: Ribbon and Enemy. The two can sometimes overlap but at least on the Normal difficulty, that’s the exception rather than the rule. Movement is most important on Ribbon sections while Enemy sections rely more on the right stick actions.

During the Ribbon sections, you simply have to move the ship to keep it on the ribbon. The ribbon will move around in time with the music and staying on it earns points and increases the score multiplier.

… a Casual mode where you can’t die …
If you don’t stay on the ribbon the multiplier will decrease. These sections occasionally have obstacles that you have to avoid as well.

When enemies pop up, you must aim to mark them and then fire their weapon to shoot. The weapon will only hit the enemy in time with the music though so if you hit the button at the wrong time, the laser will take longer to hit. If you time the shot with the music though, it’ll hit instantly and give a score bonus.

At the end of each stage, you’ll earn stars based on your performance and can unlock harder difficulty modes if you earn enough stars. I personally haven’t been able to do so yet though, as even unlocking the next difficulty requires getting 90% of the stars in Normal and I’m stuck at 85%. There’s also a Casual mode where you can’t die which is available for practicing or just chilling.

Outside of score chasing for leaderboard spots, the only other replayability comes from finding hidden lights to shoot on each stage. There are a total of one hundred to find throughout the game and some are very tough to hit, with only a split second of being open or in a spot where you can aim.

… I slowly became uninterested in playing more …
That’s really about it as far as gameplay is concerned. It works well and it’s pretty quick to pickup and learn though I’m still trying to get used to the timing of staying on the ribbons when they’re rapidly spinning around the stage. I still often find my thumb falling off the stick while trying to follow them.

From there it’s just a journey through the game’s fifteen tracks, including three boss stages. I enjoyed my first time through the stages and I came back to try getting a few more stars but I slowly became uninterested in playing more.

Visuals:
The visuals are pretty simple but effective. The stylized environments make it easy to see the parts of the game that you need to interact with such as enemies or obstacles. Occasionally the lights hidden on each stage can blend in with background elements, but that’s probably intended since those are optional and they’re supposed to be hard to find.

Audio:
The rhythm elements mean that the game’s stages all feature unique music. I believe, based on the credits, that all of the songs are licensed but if that’s the case, they’re all from indie bands I’m not familiar with.

… fun for a quick play through …
It’s a pretty cool selection of songs, mostly in the synth or trance genres of music. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the game works pretty well at incorporating aspects of the song even when they’re not explicitly part of what the player is playing – for example, lighting strikes timed to parts of the music on the last stage.

Online/Multiplayer:
The only online component is a leaderboard.

Conclusion:
Aaero is fun for a quick play through, thanks to some unique mechanics and a good soundtrack. However, I didn’t find myself looking to replay much of it. There are some aspects to try to eek out some more game time with extra difficulty modes and the hidden secrets in the levels.

It’s a good game overall and is worth a look. Just don’t expect to get much out of it unless you’re really willing to get good at it.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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