AereA is an adventure-RPG built around an appealing musical theme. From the enemies you face to the weapons you brandish, everything about the game is related to music in one way or another. Don’t be surprised to find a trumpet-shaped dragon or singing spider roaming the world of AereA. As you would expect, AereA has a beautiful soundtrack that rivals some of the best orchestral compositions out there. It’s only fitting that a game concerning the art of music would have some pretty solid tunes for your enjoyment while playing it.
As a budding student in music school, you’re taken up as apprentice of the great maestro Guido. Your job is to explore the island of Aezir and help Guido reclaim the eight Primordial Instruments, a source of unbelievable power when brought together. However, Aezir has a dark past, one that you must slowly uncover on your quest. It’s not like we haven’t seen a similar story unfold before, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Throughout the game, you’re given periodic glimpses of an evil being who is orchestrating the usual total world domination. Although this is all pretty cliché, I felt somewhat invested in seeing this adventure through till the end due to a few hints of a twist ending. I can confirm there are a few unexpected turns in AereA’s plot, but none occur quite at the very end.
Being a child-friendly RPG, AereA doesn’t try to get too complex in any area. The game makes the easygoing Legend of Zelda series feel inappropriate and seems to be fully directed at younger, or at least very casual audiences. Even so, there are a few inexcusable issues that really hurt AereA’s RPG efforts and gameplay as a whole. The vast majority of the game consists of fetch quests, so be prepared to walk miles across strange lands. In addition, maze-like maps force you to backtrack again and again, quickly extinguishing any hopes of true exploration. While you’re out searching for a feather, book, or other inanimate object, you’ll be wandering around aimlessly trying to find your way around each level. To top things off, there is no full-sized map present. In a game where you must constantly navigate around locked doors, dead-ends, and teleporters, there seriously isn’t a map button. Even though the UI contains a minimap, it doesn’t show you waypoints and is virtually useless. I don’t think AereA’s worlds were designed to be confusing, but missing an essential map feature makes them difficult to traverse.
Every time you start up AereA, you must choose a character. The basic warrior, archer, mage, and tank classes are available for your picking. Unfortunately, these classes only vary in combat-type, and the combat in AereA is fatally flawed. To start, every standard enemy you encounter can be killed in either one or two hits. Secondly, these opponents deal an infinitesimal amount of damage on the order of one or two hit points and putting this into perspective, one hitpoint is about 0.002% of your total health. So, in the middle of a major combat situation, you could tab out to browse the ol’ GameGrin archives for awhile and feel zero pressure to return to the “heat of battle”. If my suspicions of AereA being aimed toward young children are true, it would explain why it’s very difficult to get yourself killed.
Upon entering my first boss battle, I had high hopes that it would pose a challenge on some level. Bosses are indeed more powerful than standard enemies, as they should be, but still can be killed in a matter of a few hits. Speaking of bosses, while fighting the AereA’s second boss I randomly fell through the world and had to restart the game which sent me back to the very beginning of a 20 minute-long quest (see image below). To sum up how undemanding combat truly is, I actually defeated a major AereA boss before his five-second intro cutscene even finished playing.
I was able to try out AereA’s co-op local multiplayer as well. Though it’s always great to play with a friend, multiplayer adds little strategy or teamwork here. There’s no point in working together to fight off enemies, since they’re so ridiculously weak. Also, fetch quests don’t go any faster when you have someone running alongside. The lack of combat in AereA ruins other more supplemental features like multiplayer, skill trees, items, combos, and upgrades. Why would any of this contribute to the game when enemies fail to pose a challenge?
If you ignore combat for a moment, AereA isn’t all that terrible. It’s quite relaxing to roam around and admire the game’s colorful artwork and soundtrack. AereA’s priority is to make the player feel totally engaged in a mystical world that has been fully committed to representing the power of music. I found myself astounded at how many mechanical holes this game contains when its visuals are so contrastingly stunning. Even though AereA is a bit of a mess when you dig past the surface, it’s glued together by a style that hits all the right notes. I definitely cannot recommend this game with all its flaws, but it surely makes you think of what could have been.
AereA (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
AereA’s priority is to make the player feel totally engaged in a mystical world that has been fully committed to representing the power of music. I found myself astounded at how many mechanical holes this game contains when its visuals are so contrastingly stunning.