Aragami is a stealth based action game developed by LinceWorks and published by Merge Games. It originally came out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 4, 2016 with the Aragami: Nightfall DLC launching alongside Aragami: Shadow Edition for those platforms on June 5th, 2018. Recently, Aragami: Shadow Edition made its way on to Nintendo Switch, and while it’s an adequate stealth game, it’s not quite the experience it could be and feels like it’s missing something.
Aragami puts you in the shadowy feet of the title character, a vengeful shadow spirit who has been summoned via ritual by Yamiko, a girl from the Nisshoku Clan who has been captured by the Kaiho clan. As Aragami, your goal is to find six magical talismans throughout the different levels in order to aid Yamiko’s escape, stealthily avoiding or disposing of Kaiho patrollers along the way.
At the start, when you barely have any abilities, stealth is your greatest ally, although sticking to the shadows isn’t as easy to get used to as one might think. Besides providing hiding spots, the darker shadows you can sneak around and travel between also refill your shadow essence, which is the what you use to perform different abilities. While there are plenty of shadows in each areas to help you sneak around, some aren’t quite dark enough and won’t hide you as well or restore your essence, while some of the darker shadows are impossible to fit in from just being a little too small. sneaking around becomes easier over time as you get more diverse abilities by collecting and spending a number of scrolls hidden throughout each level.
If an enemy detects you, they will chase you and try their best to dispose of you until either they succeed or you find a place to hide where they can’t see or you or get to you. As the enemies use light attacks to counter your shadow abilities and you’re a being made of shadows, it only takes one hit to die, after which you’ll have to start from the previous checkpoint. The most common enemy are swordsmen, so they’re the ones you tend to deal with the most. I’ve dodged their attacks by pure luck, but it doesn’t seem there’s any kind of specific shadow dodge technique besides running or teleporting away as fast as you can. There are also archers stationed in higher areas, who may be more likely to see you if you don’t take them out first. While I do partly wish that there was a more forgiving health system like being able to take three hits rather than just one, I understand that as a stealth based title Aragami has to put emphasis on avoiding detection.
There are two different paths for each level: you can either sneak around all enemies, trying your hardest not to be detected, or kill all enemies you can find. The problem with this is that if you don’t precisely follow one of these paths and end up somewhere in the middle then the rank you receive after finishing the level will be lower. I usually killed all enemies I could find when going toward objectives since it lessens the chance of being detected — especially if you obtain the power to dispose of dead bodies — but was never able to find all enemies so my rank was never as high as I would have liked it to be. For a game inspired by Dishonored, I feel that you don’t get quite as much freedom as you could have, and allowing for some leeway would make Aragami a bit more enjoyable
Despite these few problems, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. The real fun comes once you’ve unlocked a handful of abilities and start to use them in conjunction with each other. Creating your own shadow behind and enemy, teleporting to it, and disposing of an enemy before they even have a chance to detect you provides a certain sense of satisfaction I haven’t felt since the Dishonored trilogy. My other favorite technique is placing the shadow trap and then attracting nearby enemies by making noise, allowing for the disposal of several enemies at once.
There are also a few puzzles throughout, such as figuring out how to open doors or light barriers by finding the locations of different switches. At first this is straightforward, but as you progress finding every switch becomes a longer process and at a certain point I couldn’t find the last switch needed to hit and the beacon didn’t help me determine where the switch was at all. It’s also difficult to focus on going toward one objective when it always shows you multiple at the same time when you signal it, and some kind of focusing or switching feature for a single objective would be a welcome addition.
Aragami also features co-op which seems to be online only, and since there were no matches I could join I have not yet had the chance to try it out, which is rather disappointing.
While Aragami is a cool and stylish stealth action/adventure for both fans of the genre as well as those who may not gravitate towars it, I feel that besides the co-op feature, it doesn’t do much else to help it stand out among its predecessors. That being said, I’d be interested in seeing a potential sequel if it improves some of the problems I mentioned. If you’re a fan of stealth games and ninjas, and wouldn’t mind having to deal with any of the minor problems mentioned here, then Aragami: Shadow Edition could be worth checking out.
A code was provided by the publisher.