Game: Alwa’s Legacy
Genre: 2D Platformer, Action, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC)
Developer|Publisher: Elden Pixels
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US E
Price: UK £13.99 | EU €14,99 | US $17.99
Release Date: September 29th, 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Elden Pixels
Made With Care
If you’re looking for a wholesome Metroidvania style game, Alwa’s Legacy is a little gem worth sinking some time into. The game was created by a small development team who decided to fund the game through Kickstarter as opposed to going down the publisher route. They previously worked on Alwa’s Awakening, a sort of predecessor to this game (find that review here).
When I read into the development of this title the team came across as a nice bunch of lads simply trying to make a game that their fan base would be happy with. They mention that game development is not easy, something I think a lot of us as the players forget. But despite all the struggles Alwa’s Legacy has turned out to be game I think the fanbase, Kickstarter backers and even new audiences will be very happy with.
Zoe to the Rescue
You play as Zoe who has been summoned back to the land of Alwa. A dark hooded figure is up to no good (as always) and it is up to Zoe to collect various gems from enemies and boss infested dungeons to save the day. Zoe is an instantly likeable and charming protagonist, she always has a smile on her face despite the fact Alwa is brimming with skeleton baddies. She wakes up and gets on with the mission because she is just awesome like that. As you explore the world of Alwa you will encounter a variety of fun and witty characters. The world itself is colourful and varied. The graphical style is pixelated feeling reminiscent of the 16 Bit generation. Accompanying this is an absolutely fantastic chiptune soundtrack. All these elements mixed together are just lovely, in turn making Alwa’s Legacy stand nicely out from the enormous amount of metroidvania available today.
A Standalone Hit
If you haven’t played Alwa’s Awakening don’t worry this game is a stand-alone adventure though fans of that title will appreciate some of the obvious nods to the previous. I actually played Legacy first but enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to go back and purchase Awakening. The prior game has a 8 bit graphical style making Legacy feel like a 16 bit upgrade (think NES to SNES). This was probably always may favourite generational leap in graphics back in the day so this tickled my nostalgia bones. But it does also show just how much effort the developers have put into this project. One wonders if the next Alwa game will leap another generation? One can dream.
Skills and Exploration
Zoe has a lot of skills at her disposable. Firstly she has her handy staff used to deal with most baddies. Makes a change from it usually being a sword in these types of fantasy games. Zoe soon gets more spells and skills to help solve puzzles and navigate around the map. There’s a nice balance between combat and puzzles. Enemies are not just thrown at the screen for no reason. They are carefully placed and often you need to use a little skill and thought to take them down rather than just brute force. At the end of each dungeon is a boss fight which does require some pattern recognition to conquer. This tended to be where I died the most but fortunately the checkpoints are not too far away.
The game will also surprise you with various puzzle challenges in small bursts which compliment the action-platforming very nicely. The main feature of the game is exploration. I honestly had the most fun just exploring the land of Alwa looking for collectables whilst using my magical spells. I was very fond of the one where you create bubbles which you can then jump on. The controls are solid for the platforming and using the various skills, I also didn’t encounter any issues playing in handheld mode or on the TV. This game feels nicely suited to Switch.
Alwa’s Legacy has a few niggles. First off the load times for this game were surprisingly long particularly when you resume a game. You can upgrade your spells with blue orbs you find (such as adding spikes to blocks) but I rarely made use of these upgrade as I found that they didn’t really help me through the level. When I explored some dungeons I found myself locked out from obtaining certain collectables, either I didn’t have the right ability or I had accidentally progressed the level too far. It ended up feeling like the collectable was just teasing me. That being said none of these stopped me from enjoying the experience overall . The collectables are also totally optional if you want to just breeze through the game you can do. The choice is yours.
An Adventure Worth Playing Again
The game is not too long your looking at under 10 hours on your first playthrough. But a lot of that will be determined by how engrossed in the exploration you become. With its retro feel, I see a lot of reason to replay this game just to try to beat it quicker, or just because it felt good to play. If you do struggle the developers include some handy accessibility functions. One which shows all collectables on the map and another that lets you restart the area your in on death rather than at the last checkpoint (which could be quite far). While these functions don’t make the game easier it may relieve some frustrations like repeating the same areas over and over.
The Legacy Worth Your Time
Alwa’s Legacy is a lovely little metroidvania game well worth sinking time into. The developers clearly took lots of time crafting this world, making the enemy encounters and puzzles count. They made a game that feels wholesome and Zoe is a memorable character.
Colourful, charming and a delight to play this is not a gem to let slip away whether your old or young.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot