Aka is a small emotional open-world game from Cosmic Gatto where the after-effects of war are thrust upon the player. A telling tale of peace and loss, and also coping with life after war is over. This one will pull at your heartstrings.
Does Aka provide a well-thought-out story to follow, or is it a war crime in itself? Let’s find out!
Following the story of a retired soldier – and red panda, Aka begins at the end of ‘The Great War’, seeing our adorable protagonist hang up his Katana (so to speak) and take a boat to Pine Tree Island to see his best friend, Thom and start his new, chilled, life.
Upon starting Aka, the one thing that will stand out to you almost immediately is just how darn beautiful it is. Cutscenes are displayed as hand-painted watercolours, and it’s clear to see just how much work has gone into designing them.
Very quickly, we are thrown into Aka’s world, and it is a delight. Straight away, we’re greeted with a very mellow atmosphere, calm and peaceful, and that’s what you can expect throughout the entirety of Aka. With minimal direction, the game almost forces you to take your time – this is the little guy’s retirement, after all.
In Aka, you will spend most of your days foraging for items, chopping down trees, farming and tending to your fellow islander’s needs. It’s not very demanding, and I guess that’s the point. You can go through the game at your own pace. There are no time limits to meet, no urgent missions, nothing like that, and it’s delightful.
As is often the case with games offering little to no direction, it can become easy to get lost in Aka, not knowing where you’re supposed to be going or what is next on the to-do list. At this point, you realise a nod to let you know you’re heading in the right direction in the form of a map or marker would have been helpful. But it’s a small price to bear for such a charming title.
Along your journey, you will meet an array of exciting characters that open up the story and often hit you right in the feels. Among the cast of characters are various ghosts – literal ghosts from Aka’s past that the adorable Red Panda himself has wronged. Aka will be required to perform a particular task for them to move on. They’re straightforward, but they help to unlock more of a deeper narrative – and the ghosts themselves are incredibly cute, so that’s a bonus.
Aka features a full day and night cycle, but it doesn’t necessarily mean much. Our furry friend isn’t required to sleep (although you can to pass the time), and each in-game day roughly lasts around 10 minutes. It’s still lovely to wander around the island when it’s dark. You know, just for the sights.
Similarly, Aka doesn’t need to eat to survive, but you can munch on various items just for the cuteness.
Farming in Aka is interesting because it involves some semi-complex methods. It would be best if you planted your crops in a specific order with the best growing conditions. Planting some plants next to others can cause them to grow better, whereas others can attract bugs and birds that will destroy or eat your seeds.
Farming is simple; you sow the ground when you want to plant and water the plants to keep them growing. But here’s the kicker – there’s no benefit to farming. You have no currency; again, you don’t need to eat, so you only need to farm to complete specific quests.
Overall, Aka is a charming little open-world game that offers a slow-paced and relaxing experience on the Nintendo Switch. It may not be the longest title, with it easily completed within around 6 hours, but it provides an emotional and investing story that made my heart ache.
Ultimately, it does have a few glitches and bugs that affect the experience ever-so-slightly (like getting stuck on seemingly nothing and having to restart), but I have no doubt these issues will be fixed in an upcoming update.
For such a small price to pay, this little panda has a big adventure that needs to be seen.
Fantastic art style and animation
Peaceful and relaxing gameplay
A little on the short side
A few bugs that affect gameplay
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A massive lover of all things nerdy, Chelly has been games writing for over 3 years now and hopes to gain more experience and knowledge doing so. Her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon.