Aragami was one of those games that I was incredibly excited to play ahead of its release back in 2016, but ended up being included in a backlog of titles that I’d get to ‘one day’. It was a shame too – I was a huge fan of the Tenchu games, and the stealthy-ninja action of Aragami seemed to replicate it perfectly.
With the release of the brand new ‘Shadow Edition’ that includes the base game and the newly released Nightfall expansion, I’ve finally had the chance to play through Aragami and get my fix of ninja action. It’s been a lot of fun too and certainly lived up to my expectations, with the intense stealth showdowns proving exciting throughout. That being said (and given that Aragami has been out a couple of years now), this review will focus more on the new Nightfall expansion.
Aragami: Nightfall’s tale takes place before the events of the main game, with the player taking on the role of either Hyo or Shinobu – a pair of shadow assassins who’re tasked with protecting the Shadow Empress. With a battle going on against a rival guild and the constant threat of attack though, this becomes an increasingly difficult task.
The story ties in well with the main game and goes into a decent amount of depth during Nightfall’s four-chapter campaign. The fact that you can play as one of two different characters adds to the experience too, especially since they both have different outlooks on everything that’s going on around them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re no Rikimaru and Ayame, but their varying personalities do make them stand out more when compared to the titular protagonist of the main game.
The core gameplay remains the same between both Aragami and Nightfall: you sneak across what are often massive levels, all whilst avoiding being caught by enemies and stealthily killing them from the shadows. You’re well equipped to do this though, with your shadow abilities allowing you to perform the likes of quickly teleporting to spots just ahead of you, creating shadows to recharge your abilities, or even temporarily turn invisible. You’re certainly powerful, but it doesn’t stop the game being an unforgiving experience where one wrong turn can lead into a quick and sudden death.
Nightfall actually includes a few new abilities which aren’t present in the main game, such as being able to throw explosive shurikens and smoke grenades, or even pull off slick team-kills with your partner. All of the core abilities from the main game are unlocked from the get-go too, so you won’t feel like you’re taking a step backwards when making the leap over to the expansion.
Whilst there are new abilities to use as well as different characters, the way Nightfall plays will feel pretty familiar. Each level is complex in design and full of patrolling enemies, whilst the route you need to take isn’t always made perfectly clear. Nightfall just doesn’t offer a drastically different experience, though that’s not a bad thing – whilst Aragmi is guilty of offering somewhat formulaic levels that don’t always tell you what you need to do or where you need to go, it’s always a thrill sneaking (and killing) your way through them. That being said, there were moments in both games where the easiest approach to take was to forget about stealth altogether and simply run up to enemies and kill them without thinking about it, especially when playing in co-op.
Talking about co-op, there’s no doubting that the best way to experience both Aragami and Nightfall is when playing online with a friend. Blasting through the main game with another player was a lot of fun, and it feels even more fleshed out in Nightfall – the narrative caters for it a bit better, whilst the extra co-op attacking ability makes for some pretty great kills. It’s just so satisfying sneaking through levels together and plotting the deaths of the enemies ahead of you, even if the extra pair of hands can make the game a little bit too easy at times.
Developer: Lince Works
Publisher: Lince Works
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC