So on the road again I go with another side scroller (sort of) to enjoy what comes in the form of Aritana & the Harpy’s Feather. I knew nothing about the game before I got my hands on it besides watching a brief trailer online and I wasn’t really sure what to expect before I started out. Challenge accepted was my first thought. But sometimes it’s good to not know what you’re in for because then you can actually be surprised in life but is this going to be one of those good surprises or a terrible one?
Thankfully it wasn’t terrible at all, but that doesn’t mean that my experience was brilliant in the overall experience of what turned out to be a very short game. Although I will say in the games own defence that it does come with a new game plus and some extended content to give its length justice. I also enjoy a game that doesn’t just pad out its content with the same tasks over and over until the developer just randomly chooses an end point around 6 hours or so in just to make it look like they did some work. No, Aritana is kind enough to let you learn all of the new abilities when you need them and then use them immediately to overcome the new obstacle in your path, in this game the new ability can be as simple as putting a stick in the ground to stop the wind from blowing you away (yes I am serious).
Aritana and the Harpy’s Feather : Xbox One [Reviewed] , PC,
Developer: Duaik Entretenimento
Publisher: Duaik Entretenimento
Release Date: 9 September 2015
Price: $9.99 [Disclosure copy provided by Developer/Publisher]
The story seems to be one I have seen once or twice in Indie games lately of a young boy going out into the wilderness to find something of importance to the people he lives with. Not unlike Brothers a tale of two sons in this regard although this game is nowhere near as depressing, sadly. We have the usual environments consisting of a lovely forest, some underground caves with water segments (yay) and then back to another woodland area mixed with a mountain to ascend, because obviously what you need is always somewhere ridiculous. And of course in traditional style the game has boss fights all of which consist of the same boss who seems to follow you throughout the game and he never seems to get the message despite the fact that you beat him every time. Dare I compare it to Max and the curse of brotherhood when it comes to this guy. Although his demise is nowhere near as horrible, sadly.
Now my first opinion when I began playing turned out to be and I quote myself here “Why is it RT to jump”. In my eyes this went against the average control scheme which all platformers end up using because every player is going to remember to “press A to jump” for the rest of their lives. We’ve done it since Sonic the Hedgehog (well the XBLA version at least) and suddenly being told to relearn the rules did give me a bitter taste in my mouth. At first. The game is largely focused on jumping at the right time and using your attack ability mid air which extends your jump to maintain your momentum to get to that next ledge or kill that next monster.
You collect several items in game as well some of them are fruit which when you collect 100 of them grants you extra lives. Why 100 you ask? Because this is a platformer and Sonic the hedgehog did it too is my professional answer. Some are called Muiraquitas (I admit fully to not knowing what they are) which you collect and offer at the end of each level to a statue, I assume this is the game’s way of tracking them as collectables. They also count towards unlocking the extended ending it would seem, so they do serve a purpose other than being annoyingly placed collectibles. You also level up your character by reaching certain areas of a level, often you will need to backtrack for some sort of key but it is a decent enough system that gets more gameplay out of you, which is always welcome.
There are several enemies in the game that seem to be in the form of spirited insects in most cases, some of them you can hit for combos and to gain jump height whilst some you cannot hurt at all and must avoid at all costs. It can break the flow at times. Most of the time they are used as part of the level design to get you from A to B in many segments. They are used well enough but sometimes these parts are the only areas where I felt like my progress was being slowed for minutes at a time because I couldn’t hit a spirit until it was in the right place and it enjoyed taking its sweet time to move back into position. This could be fixed by better timed checkpoints perhaps.
My only real issues with the game which are sadly bigger problems than they should have been are the controls, now learning them is easy enough, but putting them into practise in certain areas proved more trouble than it was worth at times. Sometimes I would have short patience and try to jump that one second too early or sometimes the actual wind would go against my timing and blow me off the damned screen. But this wasn’t the real issue. No the real problem I had was that sometimes the controls felt unresponsive, I would jump go to attack an enemy to improve my momentum and then BAM dead because I either didn’t press it hard enough, at the right time or the target I meant to hit was moving in a direction that didn’t help me. It feels very fiddly which is not something you want to deal with when you are completing a segment that requires you to be staying in the air, dodging enemies and of course not falling to your death.
In summary Aritana & the Harpy’s Feather is not a bad game, what it feels like is average with a few neat ideas and a unique art style that keep it afloat. You can tell the developers tried to put a lot of challenge into the game, this shows often in the fast travelling segments and the boss fights. If the controls had just been more fine tuned and the enemies movements had been better placed I think the experience would not have been bogged down as much.