Game: Alwa’s Awakening
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Elden Pixels
Publisher: Elden Pixels
Age Rating: 3+ (UK & EU) | 10+ (US)
Regular Price: £6.99 | €9,99| $9.99
Release Date: 27th September 2018
(The game is also available on Steam)
Review Code kindly provided by Elden Pixels
Send Forth the Zoe!
The land of Alwa has been tormented by the evil Vicar for far too long! A young girl named Zoe, finds herself being brought to Alwa, to help put an end to Vicar’s reign of terror.
Will she succeed? Maybe; if she wakes up…
Gameplay & Controls
Alwa’s Awakening, is a brilliant pixel adventure platformer, with plenty of puzzles, enemies and sparkly treasures! The creators did amazingly well with recreating that NES game feeling – I think any retro game lover will feel right at home with this one.
At the start of the game, we are told a story; about the peaceful land called Alwa and how the evil Vicar disturbed the peace and began to reign over the land, bringing darkness and misery to everyone.
Our adventure begins with Zoe; face down in the dirt, being told to wake up, light the eternal flame, find a magical staff and save everyone in Alwa! – Poor Zoe, no one seemed to ask her what she wanted to do.
The game is very much like a classic side scrolling adventure platformer. You traverse through maze-like areas, jump across platforms, avoid hazards, fight enemies, find treasure and solve puzzles along the way – all the good stuff and with the difficulty that goes along with it!
It is a ‘Metroidvania’ style game though, so you get to explore around and discover locations that you may have to return to later (due to needing a particular item/skill). Thankfully there’s the good ole map that will come in handy when returning to key locations.
There are also hidden secrets throughout the land of Alwa; the joy cons vibrate to indicate that there is something significant near Zoe. There are also (many) blue orbs to find; not all easy to obtain, but are worth collecting to power up Zoe – the more the merrier!
Don’t mess with Zoe; she has a stick!
The magical staff is Zoe’s weapon against evil. What makes the staff magical? There are mystical gemstones to find that allow the staff to conjure: a block, a bubble or a ball of energy. They aid her when trying to access platforms and new areas, while also being helpful in battle and solving puzzles. Alternatively; the staff can be used to whack blocks to tiny pieces or to injure an enemy – multi purpose it seems!
When enemies are defeated they occasionally drop hearts. If injured; hearts will recover Zoe’s health by one (upon being collected), but there is also water that can be collected from wells and kept in a bottle to heal Zoe later.
If Zoe loses all her health it’s of course game over, but there is no limit to the number of deaths; the game keeps track and likes to remind you of the death toll while on the game over screen. Knowing the death toll will serve as an incentive to some players to try and do better – we can’t keep having Zoe die on us; she has a job to do!
Quick! I need assistance!
“Alwa’s Awakening was designed to be a really challenging game. Turning on Assist Mode will drastically affect both gameplay and the overall experience.”
Alwa’s Awakening uses save points which the player respawns to after dying. However, there is an Assist Mode option (via the settings menu) that changes the difficulty and allows for quick respawns (so Zoe revives in the area where she died, rather than at the last save point), as well as items and wells to be shown on the map (making it easier to decide on where to go next and obtain water). Each option can be turned off and on independently – handy if you only want quick respawn on (saving you from travelling back from a save zone each time you die).
Smooth as butter…
Despite the very NES feel to the game, the controls are smooth and responsive – none of the clunkiness I remember NES games having. There is no touch screen functionality (it’s not a game that would really benefit from touch controls), but it is compatible with the Switch’s Pro Controller.
Graphics, Designs & Soundtrack
Alwa’s Awakening has the graphics, level designs and even the soundtrack that makes it look, feel and sound like a NES game; while not being an actual NES game – it’s brilliant!
The soundtrack has a great energy to it; works great when adventuring around Alwa, while adding mood and atmosphere to some of the more obscure sections. Also, the tracks are available via Elden Pixels’ youtube channel and can be purchased on a NES cartridge – so cool!
Surprisingly, the game is the same price on Switch as it is on Steam – I don’t see that very often! Certainly worth £6.99 whether it’s on Steam or on Switch.
It’s nice to see a welcome message from the creators of a game when loading it up. There’s even an “about” section, where they thank the players, mention ways of contacting them, and even show little pixel art versions of themselves. It adds a more personal touch to the game and connects the player to the creators a little more – shame more games don’t include little aspects like that!
I fell in love with Alwa’s Awakening before I even moved Zoe to the next screen. The welcome message, the theme/intro music, the intro story and the graphical style; all grabbed my attention before I properly started the adventure!
As a long time lover of retro games; I can’t help but thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the game. It makes me think of classic titles I enjoyed while growing up – in particular Zelda II. Sure, the main plot is the typical “peace ruined by an evil being; go stop them” and the enemies aren’t particularly unique, but for me; that just fitted in with the retro feel of the game and echoes some of my favourite games.
I feel Alwa’s Awakening leans more towards the adventure/exploration side than action – which I’ve been happy with as the enemies are carefully placed and don’t disturb the flow of the game. I really like the pace in which you traverse through Alwa; a steady but relaxed pace with a great soundtrack to keep the energy going. 😀
The messages from the creators and seeing little pixel art forms of them – I thought were brilliant! 😀 Really shows the passion they had when creating the game, as well as their appreciation for those that play it.
The only aspect I would of liked that isn’t included; is being able to select the items obtained and viewing a description about them – such a minor aspect that in itself wasn’t typically included in NES games (so I’m not surprised Alwa’s Awakening doesn’t have it; but I like that aspect in games 😛 ).
Would I recommend Alwa’s Awakening?
If you have fond memories of playing adventure games on the NES and are a retro game lover; you will likely fall in love with Alwa’s Awakening (just as much as I have).
I certainly recommend it if you like 8-bit adventure platformers, or enjoy a good ‘Metroidvania’ type game! 😀