Published on April 11th, 2017 | by Suros_Six
Review – Aaero
Aaero has taught me a lot of things, first and foremost it assured me that I am horrible at tracking the beat of a song (my Music Fundamentals professor would definitely be disappointed in me), and secondly it caused me to ask the age old question, “Mad because bad?” Going in with the knowledge that it was a rhythm game, I made myself promise that I wouldn’t let my performance affect how I viewed the game itself. Well, easier said than done.
The devs have described Aaero as a rhythm on-rail shooter. However, unlike many other rhythm games, this game lacks the usual rigid tapping. It should be noted that it is controller only at the moment with the gameplay heavily relying on the two thumbsticks that controllers provide. The player controls their character’s position with the left thumbstick and they direct their reticle with the right. Movement is used to avoid obstacles and follow the rails that appear on screen to gather points, and combat consists of passing your reticle over enemies to lock onto them before hitting the right trigger to fire. Points are awarded through the destruction of enemies, and how well you can stick to the designated paths. Gameplay of the “Split the Atom” level on the advanced difficulty can be seen at the top of this article.
This gameplay is what lead me to my initial distaste for the game, and eventual love of the game. My list of complaints started off with the soundtrack, and to be honest I’m still not a fan of it. It’s all super generic dubstep with songs like “Base Cannon” and “I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion. While I love myself a good bangarang or two, I’m not the biggest fan of this genre. Moving on, I also thought the game was a bit unfair and was putting me in situations where I had little chance of succeeding. Sometimes it felt like I didn’t have enough time to destroy the enemies on screen before they took one of my lives, or the thumbsticks felt far too sensitive. (We’ll be back to touch on this later) While I didn’t fail many songs in my first runthrough of the game on the normal difficulty, it still sucked when I did because I knew I would have to relisten to music I already didn’t like.
Aaero definitely isn’t insanely difficult. In fact, it does a great job of providing a nice difficulty curve. Things start off simple and ramp up over the course of several levels. Save for the first one, each song is gated by a certain number of stars with each level before it allowing you to earn up to five stars depending on your performance. Earn enough stars overall and you can unlock more challenging difficulties for the same songs. It’s a simple system that works well and ensures that you have the skill to move on to bigger and better things.
I had a pretty negative outlook at first, but something brought me back. I had to admit, even though the game felt somewhat unfair, I had a lot of fun so I had an itch to play again. I’m so glad I did because my second run on normal showed me how wrong my initial thoughts were. Right off the bat, I was performing much better thanks to my first play session, and nothing felt too difficult. The thumbsticks weren’t too sensitive at all, I was just awful at controlling them. Combat wasn’t unfair, I just hadn’t been timing my shots right. Unfortunately, I still don’t like the soundtrack, but I’m now far more willing to sit through those songs simply because the gameplay is so entertaining.
Mad Fellows has done an amazing job building the levels around the music in Aaero. Everything is synced so well to the music with enemies always dying on beat and even their swooping into frame matches up with the song that’s playing. It’s an important level of detail that is both pleasing to the eyes and ears and adds more enjoyment to the game overall. I would be replaying this game to death if the music was more my speed, but opinions on music for games like this are as subjective as they come so the soundtrack will not be affecting my final verdict.
What will be affecting my verdict is Aaero‘s status as a port. While it’s definitely not an intensive game, your two quality options are resolution size and vsync on or off. Not to mention, I completely get why the game is so focused on controller, but I have to admit that it is pretty disappointing that you absolutely need one to play the game in any capacity. You can’t get past the start menu without pressing A on a gamepad first. Controller and graphics aside, its got bugs such as alt tabbing requiring me to unplug and replug my controller just to get in the game again. I’m very optimistic that the devs will fix these things once they are brought to their attention so I’m not too worried.
Overall, Aaero is a solid game that overcomes any flaws found with it. I’m an example of someone who doesn’t find the soundtrack being their cup of tea, but still thoroughly enjoying it. I must admit that I felt quite silly when I realized my initial feelings toward the game were tied to the fact that I was just bad at it, but I’m glad I gave it another chance. Mad Fellows has definitely created something exciting, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Summary: A fun on-rail rhythm shooter that will definitely capture the attention of those that enjoy the dubstep genre.