The Nardio Review


 Alwa's Awakening main pic

IS Alwa’s Awakening WORTH YOUR TIME?

Ehh not really. Unless you are a fan of super punishing Metroidvania type games with tons of backtracking and pixel jumps. 




Steam PC only for now.





Alwa’s Awakening is yet another love letter to old school gaming. For better and worse this game really does pen it well. From the good stuff to the cheap stuff, Alwa’s Awakening really hit all the nostalga buttons for me. Then it lost me.

Alwa’s Awakening seemed really interesting to me when I first found out about it. Old school level design that seemed interesting, fun and fair? On top of that it was a Metroidvania! Color me interested. I signed up for a steam key and unknowingly signed up for an old school damn near hardcore adventure.

Alwa’s Awakening is not an easy game. It’s not a short game or a super lazy phoned in game like so many “retro” games that get shat out of lazy game devs recently. No, Alwa’s Awakening was a very promising game that failed to be fun. It’s a hard, long, game that is unfortunately plagued with bad level design, art, and boring forgettable music.

In the begining it sort of works. I got sucked in and appreciated the reto charms. The good and the bad. The tough jumps. The challenging platforming and boss fights. The feeling of exploration. The areas started to feel a bit different here and there. Unfortunately the longer I played the more I realized they got the good and bad right for a reto game and then got progressively worse.

Alwa's Awakening bad level design

There are tricky jumps and then there is shitty level design. This is the latter.

Alwa’s Awakening needed better level layout and design. That’s the game biggest problem and oftentimes game breaking weakness.

Enemies are few and far between here. The ones you do face are either push overs, well designed or cheap. Keep those three descriptors in mind because they apply to the entire game. The platforming comprised of the worldss many individual rooms are the real enemy here. Tricky jumps, sadistic and unfortunately cheap 1 hit kill obstacles are mixed into the game almost haphazardly. It destroys the flow of the game and is horribly frustrating.

Alwa's Awakening fail

These random areas are just brutal time wasters.

Some areas I got past out of shear luck. Other, slow, painful trial and error until I got it. Sadly most of these obstacles never gave me a feeling of accomplishment, only annoyance and frustration once I finished them. I swore I’d never go back to those areas again. But there is the big rub, this is a metroidvania. I needed to go back and fourth to almost every area in the game. Save points are few and unfortunately far between often times. So exploring an area for the third or fourth time trying to find something I missed or to move on or power up is frustrating not fun. Levels are designed in such a boring way that nothing is really memorable. I never thought to myself “O that area should be open now!” because most of the world just blends together. Taking sanity breaks in this game is a huge problem/risk/totally needed. I needed to take brakes pretty often because the gameplay would just frustrate and bore me. What was once engaging now felt tedious. Unfortunately once I got back from a break I found I forgot what the heck I was doing or was going. I wandered aimlessly. It’s that forgettable.

Alwa’s Awakening goes from an interesting platformer, to a punishing one randomly. Then it turns into a tough metroidvania, then becomes a boring masochistic slog.

It’s just not fun.

To many parts of the game depend on invisible walls and having to jump into what would otherwise be a death trap in the hope it’s a hidden passageway. That is not fun, that is just bad design. The hardest part of Alwa’s Awakening is the projectiles you have to deal from enemies and obstacles. I shouldn’t have to start randomly jumping into death traps or humping every wall because the developer didn’t want to make another path. I never felt accomplished when I found another area this way. It felt stupid.

There were a few fun puzzles. Moments when I realized the game could be so much more.

I wanted to love this game, but it’s just boring, punishing and unrewarding. Later on the game demands pixel perfect jumps way to often. Dying trying to reach a ledge over and over and over again only to hit the death screen and walk back five or six rooms is not fun. I just got to a point where I realized this is not a good game and gave up. Then I kicked myself in the butt and tried again and again. Mostly for the review and also for my ego, but I finally got to a point where I honestly don’t care anymore. This is not fun. This is not well designed. This is a slow trog that is a waste of my time and I give up. It’s a huge shame because in between all the bad areas, there is some solid platforming and puzzles to enjoy. This game could have been great. I think thats why I kept coming back to it. There were moments of fun and accomplishment mixed in, but at this point all I can focus on is the bad.

Retro metroidvania games shouldn’t be filled with this many level design problems. Area’s shouldn’t bleed into each other so often you forget what is where. The music shouldn’t become an empty half annoying drone in my ears. Pixel perfect jumps aren’t fun. Alwa’s Awakening is not for me and I honestly can’t recommend it for people like me.

That said I know there is a huge market for this sorta game. There are tons of masochistic gamers who are getting a gaming woody with all of the “problems” I described. I know pixel jumping metroidvania games with punishing level design and few and far between saves is right up a lot of gamers alley. Heck I know I can deal with it here and there. So to you masochistic bastards I say have at it. Beat this game and tag me on twitter with your end screens.



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Bernardo Español

Hi I'm Bernardo Español. I'm a guy with way too much energy and not enough free time.

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