Aaru’s Awakening has a ridiculously hard Old School mode; hand-drawn art reduces the hair-pulling

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Mixing demanding platforming action with arresting hand-drawn artwork, Aaru’s Awakening has landed its big fluffy self firmly on my radar. Yes, it is another platformer, and for some reason people keep criticising the genre for being so prolific, but it looks to be a tightly constructed affair offering challenging levels that reward replays, and all with only two mechanics.

Using just charge and teleport you’ll need to navigate through levels packed with bizarre looking enemies, nasty pools of acid, and frankly poorly foundationed bridges, ones prone to collapse at the slightest added weight.

Charge is your attack move. It has Aaru, the guardian of Dawn, swing his arms forwards, looking to connect with an enemy. If activated in midair it has the side effect of halting Aaru’s fall momentarily. This gravity-defying quality is key.

Hitting teleport has Aaru fling an orb which, once you hit teleport a second time, marks where you’ll appear. It’s a little like the Translocater in Unreal Tournament. So, as you’re plunging downwards towards a pit of acid, you can fling an orb towards a ledge and teleport yourself to sanctuary. This is where charge’s gravity-defying quality helps: it gives you an added second to fling your teleportation orb, or to give it an extra moment to find its target before activating it.

Mastery of the two skills will apparently be key to completing the game.

It’s a simple core game but one which has been fleshed out with beautiful hand-drawn art. Developer Lumenox have also looked to extend the linear base game with extra difficulty modes, one of which looks downright malicious. In the standard game you have infinite lives and simply need to get to the end of a level to complete it. In the most difficult mode, Old School mode, you have just two lives, and lives can only be reclaimed by completing a level by collecting 100% of the hidden goodies. I will be sticking with the first difficulty mode myself but then I’m not one of those types who savours the pain from stubbing my toe.

Aaru’s Awakening is currently on Steam Greenlight and you can download a demo over here.