Friday, April 21, 2017

Headspace occupied

So what is Aaero besides impossible to pronounce? It is equal parts rhythm game and rail shooter. Gitaroo Man plus Rez with a dash of Tempest and a soundtrack comprised entirely of dubsteb. My subwoofer has not gotten this kind of a workout since college.

But is it any good? Yes and no.

The last rhythm game I played, the self important rhythm violence title Thumper, was appropriately skewered for being too difficult, too long, visually uninteresting and having a boring soundtrack. None of these things are acceptable for a game about doing things to music and I never finished it. Aaero is less slave to the beat than Thumper, its rhythm sections are just following a ribbon around the outside of the levels that shifts along with the music (this is more difficult than it sounds) but this is augmented by some simple rail shooter action right out of Rez or Panzer Dragoon. Neither part is ground breaking but they do make sense together.

Aaero is also much prettier to look at than Thumper. Each set of five levels shares a theme but are different enough from one another to keep the player from getting bored. Each area also has its own boss instead of the recycled scary flower thing in Thumper. There are also each a good length, around three to four minute apeace.

The soundtrack is also varied and interesting. Not good enough that I am going to run out and obtain more music by the artists but replaying a level to gain an extra star or two does not wear on the ears too quickly.

So why don't I love this game? Simple: it invites comparison to one of my favorite games, Rez. I will never stop loving Rez and have purchased it no fewer than four times. It bothers me that I no longer have a physical copy of it and I don't keep physical copies of anything. Aaero makes no attempt to hide its inspirations, even using the same sound as Rez when a target is locked on, but it never comes close to equally it. The whole time I was playing Aaero, and I did finish it on Normal, I thought 'this is good, but I could be playing something better. Something with better music, better levels, better shooting, and actual narrative. I could be playing Rez.'

It is not a far thing to do. I am aware of this. It's like going to McDonalds and bitching about how mediocre the burgers are. The two games are so close together in my head that I cannot separate them, I cannot keep Rez from crowing out any affection that I may develope for Aaero.

Also, one piece of advice to Mad Fellow Games: when I ask you how to pronounce the name of your game have a god damn answer.

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