A group of famed shadow warriors, the Arigami, find their holy lands invaded by a foreign army. It is our job to win them back, and someone's going to have to pay with blood.
A sequel to the hallowed Aragami title released back in 2016, the Spanish indie game studio Linceworks look to launch another entry to the stealth-action series: Aragami 2. A game of this grain would be a flawless addition to the Nintendo Switch game portfolio, though it seems that for now Aragami 2 will only be available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation consoles. That said, Linceworks have not ruled out a Nintendo Switch port coming to fruition in the near future, only that minor technical issues with the game’s initial release demand to be seen to first. Arigami 2 innocuously takes inspiration in concept from Assassin’s Creed, giving a humble but impressive rendition of the stealth-action genre. Differentiating the game from its competitors is multiple gaming modes; you can play Aragami 2 in single or co-op campaigns, with the latter being my preferred choice purely because of how enjoyable it is to join your mates on covert ops, with tense discussions relayed over the mic. I’ve got the one on the right, you take the other one. Got it?
What is the game’s context?
We are the culmination of a long, established and revered heritage of Shadow Assassins named the Aragami, a population of dwindling peoples afflicted (or not if you are a Ninja) by a magical cast that subjects us to the power of Shadow Essence, forcing us to remain a spirit that roams the land. Set 100 years on from the original Aragami title, Aragami 2 makes reference to history as the cause of today, but ultimately offers gamers a fresh slate and a new untarnished story; there is plenty to attend to today rather than living in the past, the Akatsuchi Empire of Fire, a raging tyranny, look to assert dominance over the Rashomon Valley, the sacred lands of the Aragami forces. As we travel through the game, we witness the divinity of tradition and culture the Aragami hold to be sacrosanct, and we take a crucial role in upholding those traditions by any means necessary, even if that means spilling blood. PS: it does mean that.
How does the game feel?
The hometown of the Aragami people is named Kakurega Village and, in the same style as games like Hades and the upcoming Marvel’s Midnight Suns, this is our turf – we don’t fight here, only recuperate and explore our lineage and culture, meeting fellow Aragami warriors. Kakurega is designed in a similar way to the rest of the Rashomon Valley, giving heed and respect to East Asian architecture and customs; Aragami 2, as far as indie games go, is a surprisingly charming game to look at, possessing an art-style that floats you into the overall feeling of the game – one of oppression, one of admiration for the land, but one of anger, rage and blood-thirsty retaliation too.
What is gameplay like?
Linceworks have placed strong emphasis on the enemy AI this time around, giving not only our character but our adversaries too the ability to scale walls, pursue hot on our tails during cat-and-mouse chases, and parkour across rooftops – enemies in this game can and will root you out. A refreshed attack systems lay in waiting for the gamers who like a challenge; this is an indie-games combat and it will need patches, but it is endearing enough to dive into for a few hours. Aragami 2 has an exciting contextual reason to exist, but the story buttressing gameplay is not exactly the game’s primary focus, but decapitating and assassinating enemies in the most unforgiving, savage way imaginable certainly is. The Aragami don’t take well to invaders trying to take their spiritual lands, resulting in a fluid and versatile battalion that is as barbaric and skilful as they are protective over their homeland – they spare no enemy, using guile and raw power to take the lives of the many waves of intruders.
What does combat and movement involve? Can we level up?
Totalling a respectable 15 hours of gameplay, Aragami 2 concludes at just about the right time else it risks going the same way as when we listen to a groovy song over and over until we end up growing sick of it – Aragami 2 for most will retain its appeal right until the end credits. Making full use of the game’s itch-scratching physics, we can mobilise our Stamina System to handle action moves and special attacks, ensuring we are seen but never heard. We are agile and athletic as ever, almost feline in nature, as we jump, climb, dash, shadow leap and descend upon our adversaries, perching on perimeter walls against the backdrop of a blood-stained sky, waiting as would a monk in meditation to perform some excruciatingly bloody takedowns on unsuspecting guards. It just doesn’t get old. Of course, we can only get better as an Aragami warrior, unlocking armour skins and powers by coming across blueprints, procuring experience points and levelling-up, granting us with the opportunity to obtain various abilities, of which there are 42 making up the skill-tree. The Akatsuchi warriors are no match for a shadow, we start off as a trained killer and conclude as an Aragami legend written into mythology.
I have got to say, I did enjoy the several hours I played of Aragami 2 more than I had expected to, it has an undeniably distinctive and compelling feel to it, more so than many Indie titles I have yet come across. With any good thing, we are often left wating more, so while any DLC packages and Collector’s editions of Aragami 2 are still to be confirmed, take it as a given that they will arrive at some point. Naturally, Aragami 2 doesn’t go without its faults, but it takes a good stab at the stealth-assassin genre and has the prospects to rise up from the shadows and become a truly voguish Indie game. If you are expecting a repeat of the opening Aragami title, think again – this prequel is a different kettle of fish entirely, you are still a ninja, but many of the game’s minutiae differ greatly from its forerunner. Still, I have no misgivings in giving another week of gaming sessions to Aragami 2 – happy butchering, everybody!
You can purchase Arigami 2 using this link!
Images sourced from Linceworks.