Dutch developers Triangle Studios try their hand at a musically-themed Action-RPG title, taking elements of Diablo and conducting their own variation in a world where musical instruments are powerful weapons operated by unique musicians, but how well has AereA been orchestrated?
To start with, it is noted that this title does not feature any introduction to the history of the world and you’re dropped smack down in the middle of the beginning of a crisis, of which you will slowly learn. Your first mission: should you choose to accept it, is to visit the Great Maestro Guido, who will eventually send you off around the world collecting unique instruments to avert the upcoming catastrophe.
There are four playable characters: Claude who deals with ranged attacks who can move faster than others, Jacques who so happens to be the only melee character specialises in supporting the party, Wolff – the second of three ranged characters who can attack from further afar than the others and use the environment around to cause damage and finally there is Jules who specialises in magic and powerful attacks. If you’re playing solo, you may as well be wasting your time playing as Jacques as he’s only good if playing co-op. The other three however, even though varied in weaponry, provided the same amount of mundane playability as one another. Everything seems so repetitive and slow. In something like Diablo, you’re given variations straight from the get-go, but in AereA you have two attack buttons which are simply ‘Attack A’ and ‘Attack B’.
Having said that, as you slowly pace yourself through the opening stages, learning what there is to know about the floating world of Aezir, you’ll eventually come across gigantic bosses (which so happens to be that they’re inspired by musical instruments) that will drop Primordial instruments which will give your character unique skills to them to add a bit of diversity amongst the attacks you deal. Performing these special skills uses up Rhythm Points (RP) – AereA’s form of mana. All of which can be upgraded a few times to increase it’s damage but also costing more RP.
There are a few unlockables to discover in the form of recipe books. Picking up these books throughout your journey will unlock new items and elixirs to purchase at the store. Clefines are the currency used and can be gained by defeating enemies, as rewards for completing quests or from breaking pots that are scattered about.
Bare in mind that this title is not an open-world adventure and thus in order to access all the areas within the game, you must visit a guy in Aezir’s concert Hall; the hub between areas where you can gain new quests and upgrade your attributes and skills. However, during our play-through, we did notice a few bugs within the system. Shortly during the first quest in the sewers below the concert Hall, our character had fallen through the floor and could traverse the full map in complete darkness. We had to return to the main menu where we discovered that every time you load up the game, you return to the concert hall and so we returned to the sewers, having to wander around again. The upside to this though was that all our clefines, items and XP was kept in tact, making us look a beast by the time it came to the first boss.
There are two types of XP in AereA – Character XP and Instrument XP. Character XP works in the traditional sense that when you level up, so do your attributes but seeing as each character is based on a different class, each character levels up differently. Instrument XP takes that little bit longer to level up, but when you do level up, you’ll be rewarded with points to spend in the store back at the concert hall. This will allow you to level up your attributes such as defense, health, strength or critical chance.
We did notice that whilst this game encourages you to break boxes with ‘?’ symbols in order to collect items to aide you, many of the boxes we destroyed didn’t contain anything at all. And if you do collect items from these boxes, it’s incredibly difficult to tell what item they are to begin with as this title gives you no information as to what these are and what these do. Half the time we had to judge whether ‘this item’ looked less or more important than the item we just found, as there were only four inventory slots to store your items in. However, we did visit the store often when we discovered recipe books as in the store, they detail exactly what these items do.
Aside from the few nuisances, this game started out incredibly boring and repetitive. It wasn’t until we defeated the first couple of bosses that we started to include more tactics into our combat skills. If it wasn’t for the purpose of a review, we would’ve put this title down way before this point. So our best advice: stick at it, it will get better, not much better, but slightly more entertaining nevertheless.
AereA is available to download from the Xbox Store at a price of £34.99.
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