I was talking to a friend about some issues I encountered while playing Aragami 2. A lot of them had to do with the game’s graphics glitching, my character falling into a bottomless pit that appeared out of nowhere, and gameplay aspects simply not behaving the way they were supposed to. He asked about the developer: Linceworks. I looked them up and learned that they were a smaller company headquartered in Barcelona. My friend said that I’m experiencing the aftereffects of Euro Jank. I never heard the term before, but the name alone is a good explanation about what I encountered. The lack of polish, as well as the game’s 40 hour length, combined to make a rather disappointing sequel. It’s a shame because I really liked the first Aragami.
If you’re at all familiar with Aragami lore, then you’ll recognize a lot of what the game throws at you from the start. You play as a warrior Aragami, an assassin composed of darkness that has a human form and the ability to control the shadows. The downside to this power is that his human memories are jumbled and his body is slowly losing substance. Sword in hand, he moves about a strange land overrun with enemy soldiers wielding the power of flame. His mission ends abruptly when he seemingly gets killed. However, he revives in a village filled with other Aragami. As the only warrior in the village, it’s up to him to protect this village, figure out if there’s a way to save himself and the rest of his clan, and take out the enemy soldiers that wield the power of fire.
The story has a strong start. There’s a lot of questions that pop up that need answering. A nice feature is that your hero isn’t alone. Unlike Aragami, Aragami 2 features a full cast of characters and personalities. Even your MC, a brooding silent type, gets his own personality quirks over the course of the game. The downside to all of this is that the story constantly goes in weird directions. It’s hard to keep track of why you’re doing what the game asks you to do. Not only does this make the story worth not paying attention to, but it makes its length feel that much more substantial. By the time I reached the end and learned about the big-bad, I was more than ready for the game to be done. I liked how the first Aragami had a clear beginning, middle, and end. Aragami 2 has a nice beginning but its middle is endless.
Aragami2 is a third-person action game that relies heavily on stealth and patience. Your Aragami can run, shadow dash, jump, cling to ledges, and hide behind walls. If you miss the ability to hop from shadow to shadow, then you can play on Classic Mode. One reason the game feels longer than usual is due to the game’s structure. You’ll be given a mission, select the mission from the town’s board, and begin said mission. Typical stuff. Each mission has different goals, but the idea is the same: stay hidden in the shadows and assassinate your enemies. Sometimes the goal is to reach a certain point on the map. Other times, the goal is to kill a specific target. Finishing the goal doesn’t end the mission. You need to reach a gate to successfully mark the mission as done. Afterwards, you’ll be graded on your performance. Higher scores yield more experience points. Throughout each level are collectibles such as money, statues, and blueprints that let you create new dyes, weapons, armor, or items. Other than a slew of unique items (explosive kunai are a treat) the new gear doesn’t have any impact on your Aragami’s performance; they’re purely cosmetic. Still, it’s a nice touch to customize his look.
But, let’s focus a bit on the crux of the gameplay: the assassinations. They’re endlessly satisfying. Waiting on a ledge, behind a wall, or in tall grass as an unsuspecting soldier walks by offers intense fun as you anticipate the moment to strike. Even by the time I reached the end, I never grew tired of waiting in the shadows, zipping across rooftops, and landing a satisfying instant death attack. As your Aragami “levels up” he earns points that can be used to unlock new passive and active abilities to make him more lethal. You’ll be able to pull enemies close to you to knock them out, perform an instant kill from meters away, get the ability to turn invisible, and more. The downside is that it can get grindy trying to get all of the abilities you want. And since there’s a lot of missions and very few areas to explore, the grind feels all the more real.
Unfortunately, sometimes the game doesn’t behave. Here’s an example: I used the whisper ability to lure an enemy to my position. The enemy reached the point where I could perform a kill, and I was confident enough to perform said kill since no other enemies were around and would be alerted by my action. I pressed the button to perform the kill and…my Aragami performed a melee attack. Yes, this game features clunky melee combat. It’s about as fun as you can imagine and doesn’t deserve anymore word space. Anyways, since the Aragami can’t take very many hits and since I was running low on items, and since my abilities were all in the middle of their cooldown time, I booked it. I ended up alerting more enemies to my presence and somehow ended up getting hit by a fireball from an enemy in the distance. Mission failed. You only have two “lives” per mission. I was sent back to the town. Crap like that rarely happens, but it does happen. It feels like the game just gives you a random middle finger and decides to not work the way it should. Euro Jank? I’m not sure.
Then there’s the graphical glitches. As mentioned in the introduction, there were times I’d be falling through the ground or getting caught between structures. That messiness aside, the game is quite pretty. The color palette is limited, but the way it’s used is nice. The geysers of blood that discharge from an enemy during an assassination is quite a sight; you’ll be staining your surroundings with crimson left and right. As repetitive as the mission structure is, each area is at least pleasant to look at. The music is another highlight. The Japanese inspiration behind the soundtrack is apparent. It works well. Then…we get to the voice acting. I’m not sure how to describe it other than distorted. European “voice actors” speak in, what I’m guessing is, Japanese mixed with gibberish. I have no idea what they were going for but it was awkward.
Aragami 2 has cooperative multiplayer that I never bothered with. There’s a lot of things to unlock and learn, too. I ended up getting the platinum trophy only because it didn’t take long after the credits rolled. Ultimately, this was a major letdown the more I played. It had a strong start and some really cool concepts, but none of them made up for its problems. It became a chore revisiting the same areas, going on missions that were tweaked versions of something previous, and feeling like no progress was being made. I didn’t mind the challenge when I didn’t time an assassination right and a group of enemies were alerted to my presence. I grew up playing Tenchu, after all. I did, however, mind it when I clearly pressed a button for one thing to happen only to see something else entirely happen, ultimately messing me up. Due to this, and due to other reasons mentioned above, it’s hard for me to recommend Aragami 2 to anyone. This includes those that, like myself, liked the first game. There’s a lot that will need improving if there’s even an Aragami 3.
Overall, 5/10: Somewhat janky, somewhat repetitive, and filled with wasted potential. Aragami 2 looked like it would be bigger and better than the original. It wasn’t.