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Gorgeous new metroidvania launches first act prologue, free on Steam

Akatori Chapter One is a demo of the opening to the new 2D action platformer and Metroidvania game, and you can play it free on Steam now.

New Metroidvania gets free Steam demo in Akatori Chapter One - A young woman in martial arts gear holds a red staff.

As the wait for Hollow Knight Silksong continues unabated, there’s no shortage of excellent 2D action platform games to keep us busy on Steam. Following on from last year’s excellent Blasphemous 2 and the more recent Ultros, we’ve just this month seen the arrivals of more delightful indie games such as Saviorless and BioGun. The next mark on my Metroidvania calendar, however, is Akatori, a beautiful pixel art adventure with a very satisfying staff mechanic that’s already hooked me following the launch of its prequel chapter, out now as a free Steam demo.

Developer Code Wakers says that Akatori is designed as a blend of classic Metroidvania games and intense action platforming. While its art style, blending delightful pixel art landscapes with smooth character animation, is what initially caught my eye and made me curious to try it out, the Akatori Chapter One prologue quickly shows off several of the central mechanics that earned it my full attention.

The first of these is its combat system, which is a blend of staff and hand-to-hand combat. Early in your adventure as young martial artist Mako, a chance meeting with a powerful being known as Akatori leaves you in possession of the staff that serves as its prison. This opens up the game’s combat and platforming dynamics dramatically, as you can throw and recall the staff at any point to switch between the two styles.

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Attacking with the staff is stronger and further-reaching, and you can use dodges and throws to quickly negate its longer animations. As you use it in combat, however, its power depletes, and in order to replenish its energy you must relinquish it and fight with your bare hands instead. They’re nothing to sneeze at, however, allowing you to deliver flurries of fists and feet with the potential to launch enemies into the air for devastating juggle combos.

The other aspect of the staff is that when thrown, it’ll stick to walls or the floor, and you can use it to bounce to greater heights. The staff is recalled after a single bounce, so you’ll have to act quickly, but it adds a very fun element to the exploration, which is further enhanced by the satisfying potential to get just a little more horizontal distance out of your jumps with the use of air attacks.

The second of Akatori’s mechanics, which is actually introduced a little sooner, is that the Kohakujo – “the parent of all worlds, the cradle of gods, and a source of virtually infinite energy,” which connects all worlds together – is a place affected by chaos. As you spend more time in it, chaos builds up, changing the environment.

Akatori Chapter One is a free demo out now on Steam for new Metroidvania game - Mako approaches a frogman in a hat.

In most cases, that means the world around you becomes more hazardous, such as floors crumbling away to reveal dangerous pits, but it can also open up new potential pathways to explore. The full game is set to feature over ten biomes, each with its own unique species and dangers, and I’ll certainly be closely watching to see what Code Wakers can deliver in the final game after my time with the demo.

Akatori Chapter One is out now on Steam as a free game. You can head here to play it, where you’ll also find a link to the full version if you decide you want to add it to your wishlist to stay up to date with future updates.

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