Aeon Must Die! is a title littered with controversy and problematic development. For a long while, it was assumed the game was simply cancelled due to the difficulties between Mishura Games, the original developers, and Focus Home Interactive. Despite that, the title re-emerged, and thanks to the efforts of Limestone Games, Aeon Must Die! is finally out on all confirmed platforms.
So is this indie game brawler worth it after all of the problems it went through? Or was this dead in the sand from the get-go? Let’s find out!
Aeon Must Die! follows the story of the dreaded emperor of the unstoppable Void Armada and how he was betrayed by his generals and one named Ivory and left for dead. This dreaded emperor is our titular character, Aeon, and he finds himself weakened and inside the body of… well… you, a member of the “Starspawn” race. The two of you manage to survive, and you must work together in order to accomplish your separate goals: Aeon clearly wants his throne back while you are searching for Nebula.
It is a uniquely told story that gives the narration to the awful emperor in your head, and you will have choices in your response to him that will either please the emperor or piss him off more. The narrative choices do not really add anything to the story outside of different responses from Aeon, but they are fun nonetheless.
The way the story plays out, though, is quite long-winded and annoying. Everyone in the game is gunning for Aeon’s throne, and now that they know he’s alive, the theory is that whoever kills him becomes the new emperor, meaning you are just fighting people over and over and over again. The dialogs with the various enemies and their minions feel so repetitive because of this that caring for the story in general feels impossible. Even the sprinkled in voice acting is not that impressive, and everyone is just yelling when they decide to use voice instead of the seemingly never-ending text boxes.
One very interesting note about the story are the consequences of failing. If you fail a fight/mission, you lose “purpose” and eventually Aeon will take over your body. If you can complete the main game without losing all of your purpose, there is something interesting waiting for you at the end. However, if you do lose all of your purpose and Aeon takes over, the story becomes locked in one very particular direction that I will not go further into as not to spoil.
Aeon Must Die! is a single-player brawler of sorts that feels more like a fighting game. Stages are normally you fighting off a gauntlet of enemies with your trusty sidekick Aeon providing some extra strong abilities to help wipe out the scene. It does control rather well, but I felt the combat to be a bit sluggish and even finicky at times.
The fighting is also quite limited and certain moves can be easily spammed in a lot of occasions. One issue that I experienced frequently was blocking, because the window for a successful counter seems very inconsistent. Since Aeon Must Die! is not an easy game, dying this way can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the deaths do not feel like your fault at all.
Enemies are quite varied and provide some good challenge, but I found the way that the game throws enemies at you to be beyond repetitive to the point of the experience getting rather dull. Thankfully, there are boss fights sprinkled throughout that provide a different challenge, although I will say that some of the frustrations in the normal scenarios still find their way into the boss fights. Despite that, the bosses in Aeon Must Die! are mostly fun, and they are big and badass.
There are a couple upgrades that you can take advantage of, like Aeon’s Power and Bike Maintenance. Yes, you do have a bike, but that does not really change the gameplay at all. This is still a one-screen set up similar to a fighting game like Street Fighter, and once the scenario is complete, you will move on to another one-screen set up to do it again.
Back to the upgrades, though, the skill trees across the board are fun and interesting. Upgrading Aeon’s Powers grant you some devastating maneuvers that really pack a punch and take out some of the peons with even less effort. Upgrading the bike, however, adds it to the fights as an assist of sorts, whether it be hitting enemies to cause some chip damage or shielding you for a strong attack. Upgrading both areas is essential as you progress through the story.
Aeon Must Die!‘s greatest achievement is absolutely the art style. This is a stunning title that uses excellent shading to give the game a look and feel of its own. The character models, particularly, are the highlight, and I will even praise the beautifully designed bosses as well. The backgrounds, although static, are wonderfully painted and provide great settings for the large amount of random fights.
The music is pretty generic, overall, and does feel like an 80s action movie in some ways, with lots of synthesizer and drawn out warpy sounds. There is not a whole lot to say about sound effects, as they are the standard punches, kicks, and grunts, but like I mentioned before, the voice acting is subpar. When they do decide to use voices, it is short and overly aggressive lacking in any real character. During fights, Aeon will continue to spout off random lines that do not add to the experience more than it causes frustration.
I did experience some texture problems at points where enemies in the background appeared in front of the action, which was a bit distracting. Also, and it has to be pointed out, but the loading is a real kick to the pants. It is not the slowest, but because the fights are so frequent, loading happens between every fight and sequence, meaning the game abruptly pauses all too regularly.
Aeon Must Die! tries a lot of interesting things but fails to gel them all together correctly. Its greatest assets are the interesting story mechanic revolving around “purpose” and the gorgeous graphics. However, even the story mechanic cannot save the overall storytelling from being rather bland and overly drawn out. And although the combat works fine, the repetitive nature of it grinds on the player after a while.
It is a shame, because there is a lot of potential here. However, at the end of the day, Aeon Must Die! was kind of doomed from the start. This is a title that just cannot escape its demons, and there is enough problems here to prove that this was not a fully finished idea before putting everything together.
I cannot recommend Aeon Must Die!, and it is even hard to do so even with a good deal. You will be getting a beefy game if you do buy it, but you will get bored with it rather quickly and making it to the end is a real drag.
Very interesting story mechanic
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.