AER: Memories Of Old – Xbox One Review

AER: Memories of Old is a non-violent exploration and puzzle game from developer Forgotten Key, bringing you calm and minimal environments so you can focus on discovering new areas from a great distant.

In AER, you take on the role of Auk – one of the last remaining shape shifters of the land, and one whom can transform into a bird at the press of a button. A darkness is becoming throughout the land of the lost Gods, and using the guide of a lantern acquired early on, it is this tool that will be required for discovering new puzzles, getting hints in the form of remnants of the past and used for activating switches.

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As soon as you complete the introduction, you are set free into this world, allowing you to transform into a bird and roam the world at your will. Everything is open to you right from the start. Although the area you will return to the most frequently is the village close to where you start. It is this place where you will meet a handful of villages that will guide you as to whereabouts your next location is.

Although you’re given pointers at the village, if you forget where you need to go, you’re going to have to return back just to hear the conversation again, as there is also a minimalist menu, only showing you the map and a couple of key items you’ve discovered. There is no quest information. However there are rays of light indicating your next location, but only as you start to approach said location, does it become noticeable.

When soaring through the skies as the bird, controls may take some getting used to, but what makes matters worse is that at certain points of flying, the controls automatically nudge you up. So if you want to fly down and swoop back up again to gain some momentum, it may be cut short by the game forcing you to stay straight, which removes the ‘fun’ factor of flying. Although this isn’t a drastic issue, it’s the frame rates that let this title down. Throughout my time soaring through the air, I noticed lots of screen tearing, which can happen in open-world games from time to time, but what you don’t expect is for this to happen during exploration of dungeons. This happened far too frequently which took you out of the immersion.

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Having said that, each dungeon is filled with various puzzles in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda titles, not to mention that they’re huge with plenty of detours to take and hidden secrets to discover. Whilst the dungeons are empty and gives you a sense of loneliness, it’s through the power of your lantern that you get a sense of what civilization was like before the Gods were ‘lost’. The remnants of civilizations of the past are scattered throughout the dungeons, and the islands for that matter, which gives you more details and lore to this world.

Exploring the lands in AER is fun for a while, with some different locations from greenlands to snowy mountains, but there just didn’t seem to be enough variety in surroundings which made everything look too much alike. As charming and calming as this title is, the frame rate drops and slight glitches let this game down. Otherwise, this is a very nice exploration and puzzle title with gorgeous scenery.

AER: Memories of old is available to download from the Xbox Store, soaring in at £11.99.

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