The only other stealth focused game that I’ve played besides the Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed, and Metal Gear Series was Tenchu on the PS1 years back. Stealth is always an appealing option to me in games and feudal Japan is equally as interesting so when I got the chance for both with Aragami after wanting something like this for a while I was interested. I should also mention this is the Shadow Edition so the Nightfall expansion and all other game content is available right from the start.
Aragami starts out with you being summoned in a graveyard where you are then introduced to a girl called Yamiko. She explains how you are a vengeful spirit; an aragami she summoned to take revenge on an army of light that has invaded her lands. As you progress through multiple chapters lots of the story is revealed through enemy conversations, conversations between Aragami and Yamiko, and other means. There are a few interesting twists in the story as it has lots of different hints at different possibilities such as character identities and what happened during the war you was summoned as a result of. It’s interesting when these things come up but for the most part I will say the story does still lack the ability to capture interest throughout the game due to lacklustre dialogue and Aragami is definitely carried by its gameplay.
Shadows are your best friend when it comes to doing anything. Being a spirit that uses shadow essence you have the ability to teleport to shadowed patches around levels to ambush enemies or bypass them completely. Besides teleporting to shadows you also have he limited ability to create your own as long as there isn’t a bright light source nearby such as a fire. Using either the teleport or shadow creation drains your essence which is shown as a bar on your cape. Essence is refilled by remaining in shadows so it’s important to consider when you’re able to sit around for a little bit.
More abilities become available to you as you collect scrolls. Each scroll grants one skill point which can then be used to gain more skills. Better skills obviously require more points but the ability to choose the order you unlock them offers a variety of playstyles to use and is definitely one of the strong points. The best part is that the extra abilities are completely optional so you’re able to give yourself a challenge if you wanted by not using any at all but gaining the abilities is the result of exploration which is a good thing in itself since there are many different paths you can take to get to your objective.
Speaking of taking different paths, there are three different medals you can earn for each chapter across the game’s three difficulties which promotes taking different paths. Yurei medals are earned by not being detected while Kami and Oni medals are polar opposites with one being a reward for no enemies killed and the other for killing everyone. Extra skins can be unlocked by getting these medals as well as beating the game on each of the difficulties to show off to your friends in the co-op multiplayer, and at the end of each level you’re scored and shown what you have left to earn and find so there’s a huge appeal to completionists here.
While personally I still enjoyed it I can see Aragami suffering due to its repetitiveness. There isn’t a massive amount of variety in the obstacles you have to overcome or in your objectives. You’ve got standard swordsmen who you’ve got to deal with throughout the game, archers and their traps left around, the lights around the environment itself which drain your essence and a few bosses later in the game. Objectives for pretty much the whole game simply consist of breaking light barriers, grabbing talismans, then escaping the area to finish.
Despite its problems with being repetitive I think it is offset by the satisfying gameplay, great art style and traditional Japanese styled soundtrack that really sets the tone for the game and comes together brilliantly. Outside of the narrative, slight repetitiveness and a few choppy cutscenes everything else is brilliant.