Speed-running action-platformers can be frantic and stressful games at the best of times (in a good way), but Aeon Drive really ups the ante. Not only do you have to burst your way through a myriad of challenging levels full of deadly foes and perilous hazards, but you’ve got to do it all in thirty-seconds. Reckon you’re up to the challenge? Well, it can be a tough one, but the satisfying gameplay loop and the game’s neat ideas ensure you’ll have a damn good time trying.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Aeon Drive puts players in the role of Jackelyne, a space ranger from another dimension who finds herself crash-landing down on a dystopian Neo Barcelona. The only way she’ll be able to repair her ship and escape the depths of the city is by finding the drive cores that are scattered around, but it won’t be an easy task; not only because Neo Barcelona is a dangerous place, but also because she’ll meet her end in thirty seconds. Talk about pressure, right?
What follows is a challenging but fun action-platforming experience that’ll see players running, jumping, and teleporting their way across levels. Jackelyne is armed with a teleportation dagger that she can launch across the environment, allowing her to instantly teleport to it with a quick button press. Not only is its use essential to get past hazards, but it’ll also allow players to head towards hard to reach areas or even return to a safe spot if they take the time to explore and grab some collectibles.
Those collectibles can be a game-changer too, with players able to extend their time by five-seconds by using the drive cores found within levels. It adds an additional sense of pressure to the game where you aren’t just trying to reach the exit, but also take the time to grab those drive cores in order to make your life easier. It adds a risk-versus-reward element to the game, but believe me, players who want to get the best times (or simply want to survive) will need to grab as many as possible. Just make sure you don’t waste too much time grabbing them, which is something I found myself guilty of on a regular basis…
“Jackelyne is armed with a teleportation dagger that she can launch across the environment, allowing her to instantly teleport to it with a quick button press.”
Besides the teleportation, Jackelyne is also able to slide across the ground and wall jump, meaning she’s certainly the nimble sort. It’s easy to compare Aeon Drive to the likes of Super Meat Boy or N+ in many ways, with levels designed to encourage players to bounce their way around like they’re an acrobatic ninja. She controls well in-game and her actions are certainly intuitive, so it’s a lot of fun pulling off these swift manoeuvres as you make your way to the exit.
There are enemies that block your path too, though they’re easily taken out with a quick swipe of your sword. However, the pressure of working at a quick pace means you’ve got to be extra careful, especially since death means starting the level again. You can’t just wait for the enemy to be in your reach to defeat them, but have to bounce between platforms, avoid hazards, and then kill them if they’re in your way – it can be REALLY challenging, with Aeon Drive certainly proving to be a tough game from start to end.
It doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun, though. Besides the slick abilities at Jackelyne’s disposal being fun to use and complementing the speed-running action-platformer genre, levels are designed to offer multiple routes that clever players can take advantage of. Why run and jump between platforms when you can slip your teleportation dagger through the slightest of gaps in the walls? Or why risk heading through a hazard filled area when you could just wall jump to safety instead? There are lots of instances in levels where there are multiple approaches players can take and it all adds to the depth of the experience.
“Besides the slick abilities at Jackelyne’s disposal being fun to use and complementing the speed-running action-platformer genre, levels are designed to offer multiple routes that clever players can take advantage of.”
There’s an incentive in place to rush and get the best times, especially if you want to try and work to the top of Aeon Drive’s leaderboards. You can also play with up to three friends in local multiplayer action, and believe me, there’s nothing more satisfying than beating them to the exit. It’s a surprisingly addictive multiplayer title and I’ve found myself playing it for a lot longer with friends than I expected to, with the frantic action and constant deaths bringing with it plenty of laughs along the way.
With one-hundred levels to play through and a good variety of environments that bring with them some vibrant and impressive pixel art, there really is plenty to love about Aeon Drive. Levels also introduce fresh ideas as you progress, ensuring you won’t find yourself doing too many of the same things over and over. Admittedly, some levels can be guilty of feeling a bit samey at times, but it never feels repetitive thanks to the solid game design.
That’s not to say that Aeon Drive doesn’t have some flaws though. For one, the teleportation dagger can take a while to get used to – not only when aiming it accurately, but also when judging its momentum. I was also guilty of accidentally throwing it or teleporting when I didn’t mean to, which is probably more of a ‘me’ problem, but something that might cause issues when you’re frantically rushing to the exit.
The challenging difficulty may be off-putting to some too, with Aeon Drive’s later levels certainly proving to be tough as nails. There’s nothing that feels especially unfair, but you’ll certainly have your skills tested during those dastardly latter stages that throw countless hazards at you whilst also demanding precise platforming. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted.
Aeon Drive Summary
Aeon Drive is a slick action-platformer that’ll push your skills to their limit, but that also feels SUPER rewarding when you succeed through its challenging levels. It gets all of the basics of the genre spot on thanks to its slick controls and intuitive level design, whilst the clever implementation of your teleportation dagger adds a whole new dimension to traversing levels – it’s even better when played with friends in local multiplayer action.
It will take a while to get used to using the teleportation dagger and it can be tough as nails, but Aeon Drive is a game that all speed-running action-platformer fans will want to play.
Developer: 2Awesome Studio
Publisher: Critical Reflex
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC