After a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the game to life and a positive release on PC earlier this Summer, Alwa’s Legacy has now brought its charming Metroidvania-style adventure over to the Nintendo Switch. It follows on directly from the conclusion of the previous game too, though newcomers will be happy to know that you don’t need to have played it in order to enjoy this adventure – I mean, it does star an amnesiac protagonist who can’t even remember what has happened, after all…
Alwa’s Legacy puts players in the role of Zoe, a young spell-wielding girl who finds herself awakening on a beach in the land of Alwa with her memories missing. I hate it when that happens. Unfortunately, after awakening you just so happen to encounter series villain Vicar, who robs Zoe of her magical staff and leaves her powerless to stop him. Again, I hate it when that happens too. Fortunately, Zoe soon encounters an elderly lady named Saga that informs her of a means to prevent Vicar from bringing destruction to the land, all by using a strange book and vanquishing the nasties that are roaming around.
Let’s be honest, it’s not really the most original of tales to be told in a video game, but it does more than enough to keep you engrossed in the adventure. You shouldn’t expect too many twists and turns across your journey and it plays everything out by the numbers, but there are enough interesting scenarios to face and character to meet that ensure that the simplicity of the narrative compliments the quest that you’re undertaking.
At its core, Alwa’s Legacy is an old-school Metroidvania-style adventure, with players leading Zoe through an array of platforming challenges, tricky showdowns with enemies, and cleverly-designed puzzles that keep you on your toes. Fortunately, Zoe is well-equipped for the job – not only is she quick and nimble when it comes to bouncing around the environment, but she is also able to unleash bolts of lightning, spawn blocks, and summon floating bubbles to help her overcome any adversity in her path. Each of these are tied to the puzzling and platforming elements of the game, so understanding their use is vital to progressing through the world of Alwa and uncovering its many secrets.
Whilst Alwa’s Legacy does a good job in directing players where to go across its vast and open world, those who do take the time to venture off and explore a little will find some neat bonuses that’ll help them out, whether it’s by upgrading Zoe’s abilities, health, or even giving access to fast-travel points to make travelling the map a lot easier. The fact that each collectible brought with it genuine benefits gave me more than enough incentive to actually seek them out and I spent plenty of time in-game simply uncovering any secrets that could be hidden around me. Why save the land when there’s so much exploring you can do instead, right?
The upgrades you can apply to your abilities go a long way in making your life easier in Alwa’s Legacy. You know those blocks that you can spawn? Well, whilst they’re ideal to put together makeshift platforms to get about, when upgraded they can unleash spikes to harm your enemies. Alternatively, you could upgrade them to float in water, making it easier to navigate your wetter surroundings. Of course, you can also upgrade your other spells to bring along a variety of improvements, whilst there are also additional items to give you other abilities such as being able to walk on spikes, light up your surroundings, or even slow down time.
Using all of these different abilities together is vital in uncovering all of the secrets across Alwa’s Legacy’s world, so completionists will certainly want to be on the prowl for upgrades if they want to see everything that the game has to offer. That being said, they’re not imperative to simply beat the game – a lot of the time they just make your life easier, with your basic spell-set and the items you find the only compulsory things you need to see the ending.
I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to spend time exploring the world though, with Alwa’s Legacy’s gameplay proving a real treat throughout. I loved solving its many puzzles and uncovering secrets, whilst the platforming always felt fun thanks to the game’s responsive controls. Admittedly, there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement to be found in battling the many enemies scattered across the world, but this was made up for by the boss encounters that offered more feisty showdowns to face off in. Add to that a world that’s full to the brim with varied environments that all look wonderful in-game thanks to the game’s fantastic old-school visuals, and you’ll quickly find that Alwa’s Legacy is a pretty special adventure.
That’s not to say that the game is perfect though, with some minor issues popping up that caused me annoyances. For one, it isn’t always made clear what exactly some of the upgrades you unlock do – in some cases, I actually had to experiment with them first to realise what they did. Now this isn’t a huge issue, but given that a decent effort has gone into making the upgrades feel flexible and meaningful, I would have liked to have had a better idea of what I was actually getting.
Then there’s the backtracking, which is common for a Metroidvania-style game but could get a little annoying when you accidentally find yourself in the wrong place. Of course, the game is pretty good at directing you where to go and the aforementioned quick-travel does make life easier, but when you get hit off a platform (or, in my case, fall of one of my bubbles for the hundredth time) and have to re-play an area again, it could get a little tedious.
Oh, and there’s also an area in the game that is based around altering water levels, which is one of my LEAST favourite things in a game. It gave me bad memories of Water Temples in the Legend of Zelda games…
Fortunately, none of these issues are big enough of a problem to make Alwa’s Legacy feel less fun to play by any means and there’s definitely a LOT more good than bad in the game. For the most part, everything is cleverly and intricately designed to make for a fun gameplay experience, with the roughly eight-hour adventure certainly an engaging and enjoyable one.
Alwa’s Legacy is a whole lot of fun to play, with the enjoyable level design, varied assortment of abilities, and wonderful world coming together to make for a memorable adventure. I had a really good time exploring my surroundings and using my ever-improving abilities to uncover secrets, whilst the battles with bosses always made for neat showdowns too.
It does have some imperfections, most notably with the easy to beat enemies, the back-tracking, and the water level (a personal pet peeve… *shudders*), but these are minor issues in what is otherwise an exceptional and very well-designed Metroidvania-style adventure.
Developer: Elden Pixels
Publisher: Elden Pixels
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC