Aragami: Shadow Edition Review – Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go! Leave a comment

Originally released back in 2016 for PC, Aragami is now making its way to consoles in the form of the new Aragami: Shadow Edition, complete with a new piece of content called Nightfall, which you can buy separately, that acts as a prequel to the main game. So, since this was a title I skipped when it was first released and in celebration of the new edition hitting consoles let’s check out this ninja stealth ’em up that absolutely has nothing to do with the traditional art of folding paper. Man, was I confused for the first hour.

You are an Aragami, a vengeful shadow spirit summoned at the behest of a woman named Yamiko who is currently trapped by the Kaiho, a group of light-adept fanatics. As the Aragami you are a being of shadow, and thus you have a single night in which to achieve the goals, as the touch of sunlight is deadly. That’s a bit of a problem, though; the various guards you encounter have swords capable of harnessing light and obliterating your shadowy self in a single hit.

The storyline is largely forgettable stuff but does have a few neat ideas and twists along the way. And that’s really all there is to say about it, as it’s not particularly deep nor nuanced. It attempts to build a relationship between Aragami and Yamiko as you play, yet never really succeeds.

This all acts as the backdrop to a fairly standard but excellently executed stealth game where you can opt to sneak past everyone like a ghost or go on a killing rampage. Whatever you choose, though, pure stealth is encouraged since enemies can decimate you with special light swords that are capable of ranged attacks, too. This isn’t to say a corpse being discovered is instant game-over, however, because it’s still very possible to keep out of sight while the guards comb the area, but for the most part this is not a “stealth” game that actually lets you charge in like Rambo.

You’ve got a few special powers hiding up your ninja sleeves to help along the way, each unlockable by spending points which you in turn gather up by grabbing special scrolls spread around the levels, giving you a reason to explore rather than just take the most direct route to the objective possible. The most basic and the most helpful is also one you get for free; an ability to instantly teleport to shadowed areas,  provided you have some Shadow Essence which you can regenerate by simply standing in dark areas where you are practically invisible. On top of that you can also spend Shadow Essence to “paint” an area in shadow, useful for letting you teleport to tricky areas. This simple ability to leap from shadow to shadow is great fun to play with, even though it can be a little fiddly to aim at times and seems overly picky about whether you wanted to climb up to something or just appear in mid-air then fall to the ground in front of a guard. There’s a lot of fun to be gleaned from teleporting right behind a guard before ramming a sword so far through his chest that it might accidentally poke a hole in the space-time continuum.

My personal favorite unlockable power was Shinen, which lets you place a trap on the ground that can be activated with a tap of Y, instantly summoning a black hole of sorts that sucks up any corpses and any hapless guards nearby. It’s great for ambushing a patrol, or for using a dead body to sucker in someone else before removing them from existence. An upgrade to this power also lets you attach the trap to a living person, which is always hilarious.

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