Sometimes all you need in a game is a world to explore and the freedom to do so. Forgotten Key has teamed up with Daedalic Entertainment to bring us AER - Memories of Old
and do just that. The game was originally announced nearly two years ago, aiming for a 2016 release. Obviously that window has come and gone, but finally we can enjoy AER - Memories of Old
on our consoles, and some would say it was worth that wait.
Escape the first cave and you are free to fly
The game sees you take control of a girl named Auk, who is at the beginning of her pilgrimage to visit the three different temples in the Land of Gods. Visiting these temples will allow you collect three special fragments from the guardians, which can consequently be used to defeat an evil called The Void that is trying to escape. It's a story that would not feel out of place in a game like The Legend of Zelda
and this is kind of comparison can be made for a large part of the game. It is the kind of story that draws you in and makes you want to complete the game so you can see your character's quest through to the end.
At the start of her journey, Auk visits the shrine of Karah, which grants her a special lantern named Karah's Light. This not only helps guide your way but also offers you glimpses into the past as you make your way around the world. Memories are scattered across the lands that can only be seen by the light of your lantern, and these hidden moments help you piece together what has happened to the world, as well as the horror the people of the world faced. It's the kind of tale that's interesting to both watch and read about where there is more going on than meets the eye. You are also helped around the world by three people who live on one of the islands, of whom you won't really see that much, and some spirit animals to which you might need to give a helping hand, or they might offer one to you. There isn't a whole lot of interaction in this game, but the impact doesn't feel lessened because of it.
This is a world that balances in the sky and was full of conflict after the god king Koroku caused the real gods to fade from the world and one big land mass to split up into different islands. Eventually, when the god king fell, the world was at peace again, but the lands stayed seperated. These seperated lands should be hard to navigate, but luckily for Auk she is a shapeshifter and can turn into a bird at the press of a button. Once you have turned into a bird, the controls are very easy and smooth, making for the perfect time soaring through the air. The only time where you might encounter some problems is when you land; if you've picked up a fair bit of speed then you will be struggling to stop in an exact position. Some sharp movements can be a little awkward, but being able to bank left or right does help counteract this.
Fly around and enjoy the beautiful views
The game offers you the freedom to go wherever you want straight from the off. Once you have received the lantern and exited the starting cave, you can follow the story or you can simply fly through the world, see all the amazing sights and explore the lands. Don't be surprised if you lose time simply flying around because this is easily done, and whilst the world is not huge, it is big enough and every inch of it is beautiful. The cel shaded look of the world, as well as the characters and creatures, is mesmerising and each different patch of land has something new on it. Whether it's a stone tablet with a story, a group of lambs that bounce over to say hello or a cave that holds its own secrets, most of the fun in this game comes from simply exploring. This is accompanied by a perfectly serene soundtrack that makes your flying and exploring all the more enjoyable, and you might forget you actually have an objective here.
With the help of some locals and your on screen compass, at some point you will have to visit the places you are supposed to and these offer their own little challenges. You must complete a puzzle or two to open the way to the temple and gain the key, then once inside, these temples challenge you with their own smaller puzzles and mazes. The temples are not very big and the puzzles are not overly challenging; you'll be doing things like matching up shapes and pressing certain buttons. They offer a nice, if not short change of pace from flying around (of which you're unlikely to get bored anyway). Inside these temples is where you might encounter some lag, though, which is such a shame as it breaks the atmosphere that the rest of the game does so well in creating.
One of the game's biggest downfalls is actually its length, which is a compliment in the sense that you're left wanting to play more. With only three main temples to complete to get the fragments, it does feel a little like you are done with the main story before it has even got going. While you are playing it, though, you will feel completely immersed in the world that is on offer.
This world will definitely draw you in
In terms of achievements, there are 20 to earn in total that are balanced quite nicely between completing parts of the main story and exploring on your own. Completing the game
is obviously high on your to do list, but before you do that you'll want to make friends with some lambs
. Unlocking the whole map
will definitely help you out when it comes to finding everything. One of the more annoying and missable achievements is to find one of the locals
when she disappears from where she normally sits and this requires a bit of planning.
SummaryAER - Memories of Old
is a beautiful story told in a beautiful world. Allowing you to access memories is a great way of telling a back story without taking up too much of your time, and allowing you to piece it together yourself helps involve you more in the game. Flying around the land as Auk is simply a delight, and there is something to be discovered at every single turn in the well designed world. Yes, there are minor issues with some elements of flying, and the lagging in the temples really does break you out of the hold the game has on you, but the biggest issue you will have with this game is that you simply want to play more, and that is one of the biggest compliments that you can offer.
- Beautiful world to explore
- Flying mechanics are largely well done for a smooth ride
- Interesting story with hidden memories across the land
- Cel shaded style looks and feels perfect for this kind of game
- Freedom to go wherever you want
- Minor lagging which breaks the atmosphere
- Feels a little short
The reviewer spent approximately four hours soaring around the world, exploring the temples and finding the fragments to defeat the Void, earning all of the game's achievements along the way. An Xbox One download code for the game was provided by ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.