Alwa's Awakening (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 31.01.2017

Review for Alwa

The land of Alwa hasn't been the same since the appearance of Vicar. The evil lord formed a group known as the Protectors. That name doesn't sound particularly villainous, does it? Perhaps they protect innocent people from the horrors of peace and love. Before long, Alwa was plunged into an age of darkness that has lasted centuries. In order to combat this menace, those who haven't already lost hope summoned Zoe, a heroine from another world. Now, it's up to her to defeat Vicar and see to Alwa's Awakening.

Games designed to appeal to the NES generation are fairly common. Not all of them turn out as well as the classics they're inspired by. One of the reasons why this happens is because not enough time is spent on developing the game's identity. An identity is formed by numerous factors, such as the controls, overall design, and mechanics. When a game is too similar, it tends to draw comparisons, and its flaws become readily apparent. Thankfully, Alwa's Awakening manages to carve out its own identity. It's a puzzle-centric Metroidvania that avoids mundane powers such as double jumps or flight, creating an adventure that's unique and entertaining.

Up until she gets hold of the magic staff, Zoe can only walk and jump. Even then, this fancy stick's only useful for bopping monsters that get too close. Thus, in order to unlock her full potential, Zoe has to seek out gemstones located throughout Alwa's many realms. These shiny rocks bestow powers that she'll switch between to solve a myriad of puzzles. To put it into basic terms, Zoe will walk into a room with a tall ledge and an imposing door. In order to reach the door, she'll cast a spell that creates a magic block, a second that summons a floating bubble, and then she'll open it with a bolt of lightning. The puzzles are frequent, but never convoluted. Zoe won't be expected to push a dozen blocks around a single room, or spend several minutes flipping switches until a door opens.

Screenshot for Alwa's Awakening on PC

Due to the emphasis on problem solving, the level of difficulty is a fair bit more reasonable than most recent platformers. There are, however, some considerations to take into account. Zoe can only take three hits, and save points are one of the few reliable means of restoration. Furthermore, there are many spikes in this dreadful land. Precise jumps are necessary to avoid instant death. Also, the heroine might as well be made of sugar, because she more or less melts after falling into a lake. It's possible to obtain a flask that replenishes her health, effectively doubling her hit points, but opportunities to refill it are rather inconvenient. Still, unless the player is going for all of the achievements, this game shouldn't give them too much trouble.

One of the clever aspects of this game is that the smart level design is bolstered by creative mechanics. There's a neat trick that can be done with the spell that creates blocks. With the right timing, Zoe can materialise a block in mid-air, and then jump off of it to gain an additional boost. As mentioned earlier, there isn't a "double jump" ability in this game, but instead a very cool method for achieving one. Employing this trick early on will allow the player to solve puzzles in a different manner, or even skip them entirely. It can also be handy when certain rooms don't allow for bubbles to be summoned.

Alwa is a really fun land to explore. There are numerous items useful to Zoe's quest tucked away in every corner, and the minimal hints give the game a very real sense of discovery. She always has just enough information to understand what to do next and not waste time, but otherwise she's given total control to take her own path. Stumbling upon a detour that leads to a fantastic item is not an uncommon occurrence in this game. At the same time, the player will never feel the need to obtain everything, making this title great for speedrunners.

Screenshot for Alwa's Awakening on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Alwa's Awakening is altogether a very impressive effort. It takes full advantage of its 8-bit aesthetics to create a game that wouldn't look out of place on a shelf next to Clash at Demonhead and Whomp 'Em. More importantly, this action-adventure does more than enough to stand out by relying on a foundation consisting of great controls and mechanics. Zoe's three powers strike the perfect balance. They're flexible, but they also show the right amount of restraint. The result is a tightly-designed title that is sure to pleasantly surprise even the most seasoned gamers.

Developer

Elden Pixels

Publisher

Elden Pixels

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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