Alwa's Awakening Review: A New, Yet Familiar Take on the Classics
The gaming community has no shortage of homages to classic games; as such, Alwa’s Awakening’s slipping somewhat under the radar for most gamers isn't entirely surprising.
Developed and published by Elden Pixels, Alwa’s Awakening is a Metroidvania game, which also happens to take a number of cues from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, despite the title suggesting inspiration from Link's Awakening. Regardless, the game takes a lot of notes from the classic experience but does just enough to make itself stand out.
The music and graphics are reminiscent of classic NES games, but change up several things, using different color palettes and combinations, as well as designing some wonderfully unique enemies. The designs of some of the temples and dungeons are interesting, and they’re a lot of fun to get through, even if they aren’t always aesthetically consistent with the dungeon’s theme; Alwa’s Awakening occasionally throw random lava pits in the middle of a spider-infested and forest themed dungeon, for example.
But throughout your journey, you’ll find yourself in some difficult areas that you have to use your wand to platform actively. At first, your power is just to whack enemies over the head with Zoe’s staff, but then you start to gain abilities that help vary the gameplay a little.
The first powerup you get in the game is a small block that allows you to climb to difficult places. This quickly becomes a staple of the game because as you grow in power, you learn how to unlock small bonuses. What are those bonuses? For the most part, it’s things like currency you can use to buy items like potions or collectibles. These can all be reached at some point in the game, it’s just a matter of noting where everything is and then going back to retrieve it.
There is the slight problem with enemies respawning in the exact areas you killed them in, similar to classic games. While it does preserve the “nostalgic” feel, it can prove to be frustrating since it’s quite easy to accidentally move to the next screen and cause everything to respawn. This is most apparent with flying enemies, especially at the beginning of the game where their pattern of movement just seem to go all over the place.
There is also a relic of gaming’s past in Alwa’s Awakening: save points. While they do put them in the ideal areas for saving, you’ll still find yourself muttering under your breath about how you should have seen that coming when you take an unfortunate plunge into the waters below.
Platforming is the most challenging part of this title, mostly because there’s a lot of cases that require you to fall and allow gravity to take control for you. That means your timing has to be absolutely perfect, which is fine for the most part, since memorizing patterns in projectiles is a big part of classic games Alwa’s Awakening's audience loved. The problem arises that sometimes the patterns don’t always appear the same they were the last time. There might be a fireball that’s actually a pixel behind the other fireballs -- and one that wasn’t a pixel behind the other fireballs previously.
It’s not all the time, but it happens enough to leave what should be some fun challenges teeth-grindingly annoying to get through.
But all in all, Alwa’s Awakening is an interesting homage to a classic game that manages to stand out -- although it doesn't do so by much. It incorporates some fun platforming mechanics that work most of the time and the world is varied enough that you may want to come back for a couple more visits in the future.
If you're a fan of classic NES adventure games, Alwa’s Awakening is a game you're definitely going to want to check out. You can find it on Steam for $9.99.
Note: A copy of this game was given by the publisher for this review.