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Stunning new anime platformer doesn’t “waste your time” on travel

As videogame worlds continue to grow larger and larger, this stunning new indie game is cutting down the travel faff and focusing on combat.

Stunning new anime platformer doesn't "waste your time" on travel: A silver-haired anime girl wearing a black jumpsuit dress wielding a sword

Baldur’s Gate 3. Dragon’s Dogma 2. Starfield. These are but three of hundreds of sprawling videogame worlds that have released in the past year. The meteoric, Amazon Prime-fueled rise of Fallout has brought expansive open-world experiences back into the limelight again, and the upcoming launch of WoW The War Within and FF14 Dawntrail mean that much of my 2024 is going to be spent on the move. But Awaken – Astral Blade is an indie platformer that plans to cut down on all of the travel faff, and that’s what makes it so appealing.

You are Tania, and you are on a mission to save the currently MIA Investigation Force. Your Awaken – Astral Blade journey takes you to the mysterious rainforests of the Horace Islands, where you’re met with twisted, mutated monsters called Anathemorphs. With the Investigation Force wiped out, it’s your job to track down the source of the corruption and destroy it once and for all.

Combining platform game mechanics and the cyberpunk aesthetics of great anime games like Scarlet Nexus and Nier, you can chain together a range of upgradable abilities. Slow down time with Fast Stand Up, then dash into the heart of the fray, tearing your enemies asunder as you do so.

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But wanton murder has its consequences. Awaken – Astral Blade features several different endings, meaning that you’d best consider what path you want Tania to follow. Search under every rock and read every notepad; the best choice, after all, is an informed one.

But while the cyberpunk-esque aesthetics of Awaken – Astral Blade are what drew me to it in the first place, the idea that the map is “designed to save you time” piqued my interest. Dark Pigeon Games urges you “not to waste time on travel,” and as someone who’s plowed over 50 hours into Baldur’s Gate 3 and not even made it to Baldur’s Gate itself yet, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Oh, and you can also pet the cats. That feels important to mention – in fact, it’s the most important part, hence I’ve left it until last.

An anime girl with silvery hair stands next to a statue of a Goddess-like figure in a dimly lit cavern

The Awaken – Astral Blade release date is set for Q3 2024, but you can dive in right now via the game’s ongoing Steam demo. Given it was rated ‘best in play’ at GDC 2024 and is currently being shown off at WASD 2024, I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to check out the vast overgrowth of the Horace Islands.

If you’ve already completed the demo, though, we have a list of other free Steam games to give your wallet a helping hand. Alternatively, if it’s that hyper-futuristic aesthetic that gets your blood pumping, we have a list of all the best cyberpunk games, too.

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