Recent stealth games tend to allow for multiple gameplay options so as not to neglect those that wish to go guns blazing. I for one enjoy playing Deus Ex titles without worrying about sneaking around. Aragami is what I would describe as a core stealth title, and trying to play the game any other way results in the immediate death of your character. Developed by a small and dedicated team at Lince Works, Aragami lets players use the shadows to their advantage. Remain a silent assassin and help the young girl that summoned you with a plot to avenge her people.
You take on the role of the vengeful spirit, also named Aragami, with strange shadow abilities which you’ll unlock as you play through the game. Yamiko is being held captive by the evil Kaiho clan that have mercilessly slaughtered her people. You must rescue her before the crack of dawn, as your hazy body will dissolve with the rising sun. Strangely enough, your enemy is called the Army of Light, and you’ve essentially flipped the traditional light vs. dark narrative as you attempt to defeat the “light.” As you progress through the first chapter, Yamiko (in spirit form) teaches Aragami to use his shadow powers. There are plentiful flashbacks that show Aragami’s memories as well as Tamiko’s past to flesh out the game’s narrative.
The first few abilities you gain are basic; you’ll unlock more by finding hidden scrolls, help you to transverse the environments. Since Aragami is a shadow spirit, you can instantly move between two shadows, which is the first skill you learn. The second lets you create your shadows, although they will slowly fade away over time. If a locked gate blocks your path, but there is a shadow on the other side of it, you can teleport yourself through the gate to reach the other side. All of your skills come at a price, and you can always tell how much shadow juice you have remaining by starting at the runes on your cloak. It will drain anytime you are in direct light, and recharge when you are hidden in the shadows. Walking into the shadows, Aragami will turn all black and be surrounded by a unique visual effect letting you know you are completely hidden from view. Both will dissipate as you venture into the light and enemies will readily spot your mix of red and gray wrapped outfit.
There are two different paths you can take across every chapter in the game. It should please stealth fanatics that you can complete the entire game by killing anyone in your way or by not killing anyone. While you can get through chapters by killing some and avoiding others, you have to be smart with your character’s placement to avoid being spotted. Typically, being detected means a quick death. Stick to the shadows and ensure that a patrol won’t spot you as you are digging your blades into another soldier’s neck. Creating a shadow underneath an unsuspecting guard can prove promising, but be warned you must act quickly or risk being noticed once the darkness disappears.
As you collect the hidden scrolls, you can use them to unlock more advanced skills, such as summoning a dragon made of shadows or being able to make guards' dead bodies disappear. While those are aimed towards aggressive play styles, there are also ones that will assist players trying to avoid conflict. You can summon a raven companion to help scout the layout of the environment, summon a decoy for distracting or gain the ability to see enemies through solid objects. You are ranked at the completion of chapters based on your performance, so you’ll want to either kill everyone or avoid everyone to maximize your ranking.
Aragami sticks to its stealth roots and has earned a place with some of the greatest stealth games of all time. With a campaign that lasts over 10 hours, Aragami is already well worth a purchase. Lince Works also added a 2-player online co-op, letting you and a friend play through the entire game together. There are the occasional rough animations, and the frame rate drops a tiny bit in spots, but Aragami is a lot of fun and worth multiple playthroughs, especially if you take advantage of playing with a second player.
Note: The review for Aragami is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.