Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is the result of the successful Kickstarter campaign. It surpassed the targeted goal and the devs mostly delivered everything they set out to do. A 20+ hour long, hand-drawn adventure in the style of African culture. But is there really enough behind the charming visuals to keep you around for 20 hours? Read on to find out.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is available for purchase on Amazon for $14 99.
Aurion takes inspirations from a lot of sources. The devs state that their work is mostly inspired by Tales Of Symphonia but as soon as you start playing, you will see some other prominent inspirations with powers, auras, transformations that seem taken straight from Dragonball Z. There is also a pinch of a JRPG style of gameplay and some manga-inspired visuals in a Double Dragon-like sidescrolling beat-em-up.
Storywise, Aurion takes place in a fantasy world inspired by African cultures ranging from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Saharan nations such as Mali and Niger. You start your adventure peacefully, just before the wedding of the two protagonists, the King and Queen of the peaceful and isolated island nation of Zama, Enzo and Erine Kori-Odan. During their wedding, Erine's brother Ngarba conveniently invades the city to kick off the tutorial. Once he overthrows you and you escape, the rest of the game is spent wandering around the world learning about it and gathering allies to get your kingdom back. Goes without saying that this will lead to plenty of problem-solving for other nations in order for them to help you, dealing with criminals, managing yourself through intriguing plots and other fun times.
All in all, the story presented here is pretty good as are the protagonists, despite presenting everything through dialogue boxes. The writing is solid and although it might seem that the story will fall into predictability it manages to stay fresh throughout. This is mostly due to the setting and the entire mythology that is thanks to the African influence much different than what you are used to with most western or Japanese RPGs. There is plenty of humor and emotion akin to best shonen manga tropes – dealing with self-discovery, self-doubt, overcoming obstacles, making friends, getting stronger and that kind of stuff with everything organically integrated into the overarching story.
The game does a great job in keeping you invested in the characters and the world, always pushing ahead to find out what will happen next. Some of the problems only arise from mistranslations, but rarely in key moments of the story. English is obviously the developer's second language as French remains in some of the menus despite selecting English as your primary.
The gameplay in Aurion consists of exploration and combat. In both, you are locked on a 2D plane. The difference is that while exploring, you can move in 8 directions, and in combat, your move left or right. While exploring you interact with NPC's in various locations who will either give you quests or bits of information about the world or themselves. There are also some platforming sections with jumping on platforms and floating islands, climbing walls, searching for collectibles and solving an occasional puzzle. But the meatiest part of the game is the combat. Despite you being locked in a 2D plane and moving only left to right, it has a lot of systems in place that keeps it engaging and deep.
The combat, as is the case with most of the game, can seem basic once you start the game with just a normal combo attack but don't let that drive you away. As you progress, more and more systems unlock, as well as transformations which grant Enzo with additional powers. The aforementioned transformations are a part of the Aurionic system, basically, your KI (here called AP) with which you use more advanced moves, powers, and ultimates. There is also dodging, blocking, parrying and even juggling your opponent. Enzo takes the frontline combat role while Erine is mostly on standby with offensive and healing spells and utilizing her as well as all Enzo's abilities is essential if you want to survive.
There are also boss battles with other fighters that possess Aurionic powers. They can be a challenging affair but they can tend to drag a bit. It is understandable that bosses possess resistances to some of your attacks but making some of them only vulnerable to melee and giving them HP pools the size of an ocean is just a bit too much. Besides that, they are fun and invoke the best Dragonball can offer with dashing around the screen, charging AP, discharging energy attacks and spells and so on.
The combat is not without its problems as the game struggles with hit detection where you often have to stand at an exact spot for your hit to register. Fighting against few enemies sometimes produces being locked into place, unable to move while they pummel you and some bosses require more healing items than combat skill to defeat. To this end do yourself a favor and play the game with a gamepad. Not only is it much smoother and easier to control but helps with the fact that even when you play with a keyboard, the game shows the instructions with a gamepad in mind, so you are left navigating control menus even after the tutorial. With this many combat systems, important keys often feel spread across the keyboard, making it feel clunky and confusing.
Overall, I remain positive regarding the gameplay mechanics because the problems are too far in between to take notice as long as you use a gamepad and push through some of the frustration in one or two boss fights. What will certainly frustrate you more are the loading times. In a sidescrolling game, where touching the edge of the screen moves you to another area – each transition lasting for 5-10 seconds can become painful when you can breeze through an area in 2 seconds if there is nothing of particular interest in it.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
As can be seen from the game screenshots, the game adopts a hand-drawn, colorful and saturated visual style. The art style is not often seen and it reminded me a bit of older games such as Disney's Hercules, but with a much higher fidelity and sharpness. It is even similar to the games of old where characters seem as though they are not completely animated, making them feel even more cartoony. Even though it would improve fluidity of the combat, it didn't bother me much as it seems deliberate on the part of the devs to further enhance the unique feel of the visuals. Backgrounds are mostly static and help bring the feel of Africa, especially when coupled with traditional music that permeates the entire game. I would only like a bit more tracks, as only a handful of them playing through a 20-hour adventure can get stale.
As I mentioned, the game features no voice acting. Only indistinguishable tribal grunts and gasps are heard from most characters. The presentation fits with the overall visual style but sometimes it further brings forward the problem of poor translations in some areas of the game.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is definitely an achievement. The developer struggled to release it, but managed to deliver a memorable RPG set in a rarely seen African-inspired setting. It separates itself from similar games with unique visuals and great combat mechanics. It is not without its share of problems though. Mostly on the technical side with long load times, occasional crashes, translations and keyboard controls. If you are not pushed away by it being a 2D sidescrolling game, there is a lot to like here despite it sometimes feeling rough around the edges. The world built here has a lot of potential for further exploitation and I certainly wouldn't mind another trip to the land of Zama.
|+ Colorful and vibrant visual style||– Load times|
|+ Fun combat mechanics||– Keyboard controls|
|+ Interesting story||– Some poor translations|
|– Only a handful of tracks|
|– Some poor hit detection|