Friday, October 27

AER - Memories Of Old Review

Two years ago, I heard about AER - Memories of Old, an independent project of the Swedish study Forgotten Key, that drew attention for it's graphic aspect and some of it's ideas in terms of exploration. The reason? The protagonist has the capacity to transform itself into a bird.
It's a very minimalist game, and not only in art - surfaces without textures, under polygon - but also in the proposal. There is history and background about gods or ancestral ruins that is explained in documents and murals, but there are hardly a few characters to talk about and basically their function is to give clues to our next objective, not to develop a big argument.


If you don't stop at the free exploration, AER can end up in one sitting, less than three hours, and there is little replayability - except for locating secrets and curiosities on the optional islands, but nothing that sets the game as an optional task.


The pilgrim you control, explores this open world, small compared to what usually offer the sandbox, composed of floating islands. It would be impossible to progress in the game unless you control a shapeshifter, human-looking ground and bird-shaped in the air. From the beginning it's possible to reach any corner of the area, and your goal is to find three pieces hidden somewhere in this world.

You can open a map as the main guide, all those indications of the interface that often flood other titles. Some people who know the world, stationed in a camp, will inform  that to the northwest there is a certain temple, and only with that information or the design of the stage - for example, rays of light, suspicious constructions - you discover the goal destiny.

Initially it's not strange to feel a little lost, but not because the game has problems, but because we are bad accustomed to a lot of information and that, the developers take you of the hand to each corner. Finding destiny here is a big part of it's grace, so there would be no point in giving more facilities.

AER has some zen play, exploration, platforms and puzzles. The control in the air is very pleasant and relaxing, which makes this adventure something contemplative. There are no enemies in the game, no pitfalls, only small wild animals in wooded islands and not much more interaction than finding "memories" in the form of silhouettes of an ancient civilization. To see these dialogues is enough to use a lamp in points with floating symbols, and although they don't contribute more knowledge of your real mission, yes they complete a little the mythology.

These memories are really the only aspect that i can call collectible, although the game doesn't treat it as such - there is no accounting. It's easy for some players to miss a better use of the islands of the map, because except for the search of the dungeons, there is no other type of sidequest in the rest of the islands. This is another reason to associate it with a Zen exploration game: it gives you freedom to do, what you want at your own pace. Perhaps not all users will enjoy this approach.

Focusing on the task, AER follows a simple pattern that does not change. Once you know the region to investigate, you must know where is the key to open the temple that keeps one of the pieces you need. This is the development of the game: talk in the camp with the guides, go to the temple, get the key with some kind of very simple puzzle in another place nearby and enter the dungeon -with a little more complex tests-.

Inside each temple there are jumping challenges - here you can't fly - and especially machine manipulation, panel mechanisms or door opening. Nothing especially original that you have not seen in dozens of adventures or action games with puzzles, or are of a high difficulty, but entertain and in the end is what makes it have more "game" than a launch based solely on experience.

Graphics & Design

To work in the relaxing aspects, the fusion of images and sound is fundamental. While the low-poly is an art resource as well known and used in the independent scene as the cel shading, it can be said without fear that it is a beautiful game in motion, both in the exterior and in the interiors -caves, icy areas and temples.

The sound is less round, in fact there are no melodies or songs but ambient music and wind effects as the main accompanist. During the game it makes sense, but there are no topics that you can listen out of context.


It's difficult to pigeonhole AER - Memories of Old in just one genre, but perhaps presenting it as a zen game is what best suits reality and will disappoint it's buyers less. It covers some more styles, but it's in the flight and the recreation of landscapes where it's greatest value lies.

As a puzzle adventure, the tests are very simple and don't require much skill in jumping or reflection, and the whole exploration part doesn't stop being an excuse to enjoy the nice bird's-eye view, forgetting any kind of pressure for time , obtaining resources or dangers. In short, a short trip that is enjoyed during your journey, although it will not leave an indelible mark.


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