Arriving at Daedalic Entertainment at gamescom 2017, I was scheduled to see two titles that I’ve never heard before. The first of which was AER - Memories of Old, developed by Forgotten Key, it’s a passion title the team have been working on for the last four years. Coming close to its October release, I got some hands-on game time at the Daedalic booth.
To begin AER is a rather unusual, artsy title with an incredible indie feeling. Not a bad thing at all, entirely far from it. Taking the role of Auk, one of the last few shapeshifters in a world, you transform yourself into a bird, travelling freely across a massive minimalistic world in the clouds. It’s an atmospheric and relaxing experience, with complete freedom to explore, you’re not guided to any main objective.
Starting inside a lonesome cave, I take my first few steps exploring the caverns and environments. As I explored, nothing really stood out at first. Soon though, after discovering a statue at the centre, a spirit stood above and told a story of a world before, where an ancient civilization once housed the old gods. It went on to explain that this world shattered, leaving only fragments of the islands in the sky. With that, it’s learned that Auk must go on a pilgrimage to uncover further secrets and save the world from a similar fate.
Making my way outside, true freedom was then put into my hands. With the ability to turn into a bird anytime, I flew effortlessly across the islands and simply explored. Upon viewing the map, which at first is covered in a fog awaiting to clear, the mystic world you’re in is massive. Unlimited in your ability to transform, you could easily traverse the world, flying through without restriction. So that’s what I did, just flew. As said, it was a rather relaxing experience. I didn’t feel lost or any sense of urgency to discover, but the option was there. It was entirely up to the player to decide how they would like to proceed.
I watched around me as others played to see what they came across. Someone beside me chose to travel to the first of the islands and discovered ruins of an old temple, another travelled to a village and spoke with the people around. While I continued to fly and landed on an island far out from the introductory cave. Landing there, I explored and discovered another spirit telling me more of the world. Conversations in-game are rendered in text, similar to Zelda with certain key points highlighted during conversations. It’s through these conversations you learn of three temples sealed away. With a clearer idea of where to look next, I continued flying above the skies by which point, unfortunately, my time with the game ended.
Reflecting back, AER - Memories of Old, is a unique game. Starting you off with little to no information puts your mind in a state of curiosity. The design and aesthetics are warm and welcoming, although I didn’t take much to the polygon design of characters, lacking any detail in their faces. Still, it’s a unique experience and the designs were still charming.
After speaking with one of the developers, Robin Hjelte, he explained that world of AER isn’t just for exploration. There is a handful of puzzles and challenges that you have to complete in order to progress. These come in the form of platforming, using specific items, and matching symbols, but getting those and completing them can be done in any order.
By the end, talking about AER didn’t do it justice, it’s certainly a title worthy of attention and seeing it for yourself is sorely needed. If you’re a fan of games with a vibrant, colourful minimalist design then be sure to keep your eyes out for AER - Memories of Old when it arrives October 25th, 2017.