Like most people who were born in the 1980s, I have always been a big fan of ninjas. Running along rooftops and throwing shuriken at people just never looks uncool. There have been a number of third-person games where you play as a ninja over the years, including the original Aragami, which cast you as an undead assassin with shadow powers.
Well, Lince Works are back with Aragami 2, a sequel to the well-regarded first game, with a bit more shadow ninja action. Or, rather, twice as much, because it’s at least twice as long. The formula is also drastically changed, which I welcomed wholeheartedly.
When you start the game, your character awakens with low health in a pile of corpses, a spirit being who can hide in the shadows. By the end of the tutorial section, you’re introduced to a village full of spirit beings like yourself. By the end of the game you’ve discovered how you all came to be, and what’s been causing the gradual madness that has infected so many of your kind…
Admittedly, while I enjoyed the first game, I don’t remember that much about it as I played it around release in 2016. So while Aragami 2 is connected to the original, it wasn’t explicit enough for me to notice - so don’t feel like you have to play it first to understand things.
The biggest change in Aragami 2 is how mobile your character is. No longer stuck to sneaking in the shadows, now you have a full range of ninja mobility options. Sneak in tall grass, become invisible in shadows, teleport a short distance to grab ledges… Each level is built to allow multiple different routes through it - do you go through the main gate, or through the broken drain? Climb along the walls or use the mesa to reach a rooftop?
You also have options for dealing with the enemies which litter each level; sneak past them, knock them out, or murder them. Well, you could do all three, I suppose, but that would take extra time. If another soldier sees an unconscious ally, they will wake them up. If it’s a corpse, they’ll sound the alarm which makes your job harder - that same soldier will then explore the area to see if there are more bodies. You can pick up and carry enemies, whether they’re unconscious or dead, and dump them in tall grass (or chuck them over the side of hills) to hide your presence.
Aiding you in your missions are a range of upgrades. You get one upgrade point for each rank you attain, though some upgrades require more than one point. Each upgrade can be improved once, so for instance there is one that allows you to see the route walked by enemies. Improving it will allow you to see where they are going to walk to. You also have shuriken, smoke bombs, and various items to unlock.
There are six chapters in the game, which take place in multiple areas. I was a little wary that each area has multiple missions, but I wound up being quite impressed by the execution. The first couple of times you visit a level, you’ll be blocked out of certain areas. Eventually, you’ll have a mission which uses the entire level, and there is some impressive design going on. One example, you’ll go from wondering what the mine looks like to having an entire mission inside that mine.
Aragami 2 has a ton of stuff to collect throughout the levels. Most of it is gold - used to buy health potions and items like smoke bombs - but there are also gold statues and blueprints. If you play in co-op, it’s worth noting that everyone gets the gold you pick up - but not the other collectables. The blueprints open up customisation options, such as swords and colours, which are entirely optional and don’t affect your abilities. They do make you look cooler, though.
Of course, customisation also comes in handy for when you play in co-op. You can play with one or two other players, either from your friends list or in a public match up, and it’s crossplatform. Aragami 2 is fun - Aragami 2 in co-op is amazing. There’s no better feeling than seamlessly working in unison to jump two enemies to take them out. Although there is no voice or text chat, I found myself in sync multiple times over several play sessions. I played with two colleagues and we had a Discord call going, but despite that we’d really only talk when someone screwed up, or we found a collectable. Or to thank someone for helping out in a sticky situation… The levels aren’t scaled in any way - from what I could tell - so I was definitely glad to have some help.
However, multiplayer is where I had most issues with Aragami 2. Some of them we were warned about in advance as known issues that are going to be resolved. Others were just weird. When restarting missions, sometimes the host could see both other players, but they couldn’t see each other - and when that happened, the host’s framerate dropped to single digits until the mission was abandoned. Once after being killed and returning to the start, my right stick just stopped working for two minutes before working again. The second player was disconnected multiple times. Some enemies would T-pose for only one player. One player could go into a blocked-off area while the others couldn’t. The mission objective was either wrong or just missing for one player. The portal to exit the level was missing. I picked up a body and slowly flew through the walls of the level until I reached the border, then immediately returned to where I had picked them up.
Okay, written out like that it does seem like this game had a lot of issues. However, Aragami 2 is a very, very fun game. The only reason I’m writing this and not playing it to get S ranks on every mission, and find all of the collectables in each level, is because I want to hit the embargo. The game is absolutely massive, and to complete it 100% it’s going to be well over 20 hours.
The graphics look great, though it’s weird that the human characters’ mouths don’t move when they speak - everyone else is wearing a mask. Apart from that there are some fantastic effects and designs, with the costume items standing out.
Overall, Aragami 2 is definitely my favourite multiplayer experience of the year. It’s a contender for my game of the year, too! It’s well designed, looks great, plays very well and is absolutely huge with tons of replay value! I highly recommend it.
Aragami 2 (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
There are few games I’ve enjoyed quite as much in recent months as Aragami 2.