Previews

Stealth assasinations at their most beautiful: Aragami preview

Aragami is a stealth action game that takes inspiration from other titles like Mark of the Ninja and Tenchu. What separates it from those titles are its beautiful art that blends the colorful minimalism of Gigantic and the painterly Japanese style of Okami, and the Shadow Powers that protagonist Aragami can manipulate to traverse the world and execute his enemies from the shadows. Aragami is an undead warrior summoned back from the dead by a girl named Yamiko who is being imprisoned by The army of Light. There will be a full campaign to take players through Aragami’s tale, and it can either be played single-player or co-op.

In the demo on the E3 show floor, you begin the tutorial learning the basics of your Shadow Powers. Aragami can freely aim at the ground, walls, ceiling to project an area of shadow and teleport to it much like the Blink ability from Dishonored. Not only can you reach seemingly new areas with this power, you can use it to teleport behind enemies, gain a tactical advantage over them and make a stealth kill, or you can use it to teleport away from enemies if you find yourself in trouble.

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In order to stay out of danger, sticking to the shadows is extremely important. If you are seen while an enemy is in close proximity, they will rush and try to kill you, and it is a more often than not one hit kill. If they are further away and you’re sighted, they will launch a flare into the sky alerting all of the other guards in the area to close in on your location. It is not impossible to get the jump on one guard who has spotted you, but multiple guards most assuredly means death, and the smarter play is to escape until they resort back to their normal behavior. Developer Lince Works is still balancing checkpoint placements for difficulty purposes and tuning the base level of difficulty, but players will be able to turn on and off several options like enemy indicators to customize their play experience and make the game more or less challenging.

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If you are successful at lurking in the shadows, there are several ways in which you can execute your enemies. The Shadow Powers include things like Kunai, where you throw a knife made of shadow, or Shinen, which creates a black vortex of shadow that sucks an unsuspecting guard into oblivion. Any enemy bodies that were not sucked into a vortex will remain in the world and alert passing guards, so the Shadow Vanish power is good for making the evidence of your assassinations disappear.

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All of these powers are limited to a meter. There is no HUD, so everything from the shadow meter to the equipped power to the amount you can use said power, is presented on Aragami’s cape. Once the meter drains, it will glow red and the way to replenish it is by completing a special kill. One of these powers calls forth a shadow snake that writhes up out of from a shadow underneath a guard and pulls him down into it. The special kills take longer and leave Aragami open to attack, so players should be careful when choosing to use them.

All of these powers can be upgraded via skill trees that cater to different playstyles. Players can decide if they want to be more aggressive or defensive or any combination of the two. You can complete the entire game without killing anyone, or you can turn Aragami into a one-man murder machine; the choice is entirely up to the player.

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