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Aeon Drive Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Aeon Drive
Developer: 2Awesome Studio
Publisher: 2Awesome Studio, Critical Reflex
Website: http://www.2awesomestudio.com/press/sheet.php?p=Aeon_Drive
Genre(s): Arcade, Action, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 30.09.2021
Price: £10.99

A code was provided for review purposes.

Introduction

Aeon Drive is a high-octane speed-running platformer. I played as Jackelyne (Jack) and travelled through the same thirty seconds repeatedly, trying to rebuild my rocket ship. This gameplay loop seems tedious, but each thirty-second period takes place on a different level, making each period different from the last. Is this race against time worth your effort? Find out in this Rapid Review.

Dark planet over a bridge and other planets.
Abort Mission!

As soon as I first launched Aeon Drive, I was treated to a cutscene of Jack crash-landing her spaceship on a distant planet. This simple premise then establishes the context for the entire game. The parts dislodged from the ship are breaking down and will explode in thirty seconds. By continually rewinding time, Jack gets progressively closer to her ship pieces before they detonate. The story was not a keystone of the story, but the inclusion of the story was very nice and explained why levels have time limits. There is not a lot of story content here for people seeking it, but the story positively supplemented the gameplay.

Crash Landing!

Aeon Drive is clearly a gameplay driven title. Sure, it features a story to add background to Jack and the world around her but exploring the world and dashing throughout the levels is where I had the most fun.

What makes this title so enjoyable are the various movement options. By herself, Jack can walk, jump, wall-jump, and slide along the ground. These are customary. Aeon Drive also features a teleportation dagger. It helps you phase through obstacles, reach long distances, and sneak through narrow gaps. Mastering this technique allowed me to fly through stages. It was rewarding to learn. The movement options made navigating the levels a blast, even though the levels were not the most dynamic or innovative. The movement was easy to pick up, and fun to master.

Familiar Feeling

Each level was different from the last, but not largely so. Sure, they all fit in with the theme, but at the same time, they did not feel particularly unique. Each level uses the same enemies, nearly identical traps, and has the same objective. There were new concepts introduced occasionally, but completing each level focused more on mastery of movement and mechanics. I typically enjoy platformers based on their movement, and thus I was satisfied with the minimal enemy designs and traps. However, if you primarily play platformers for the intricately designed levels, Aeon Drive may not be for you. It focuses on rushing through a level as quickly as possible.   

Jack sliding on the ground maneuvering through tight gaps
Keep a fast pace

As I worked my way through the one hundred levels, I competed on a global leaderboard against other players. This leaderboard showed who could complete the level the fastest. Including this leaderboard appealed to my competitive spirit. I continued playing levels I had already completed itching to attain an even better time. Without this feature, I think the value of the game would have fallen short. However, it is not perfect either. Aeon Drive is an indie title and thus has a smaller audience. Even beating levels for the first time, I often made the leaderboards. It diminished the excitement I felt advancing the times, especially because sometimes I would shave a lot of time off the previous record.

Constant Action

Though I mentioned that the primary focus is the speedrunning community, there are alternative objectives. There are collectables to collect. These ranged from diamonds to hotdogs, but they were always fun to interact with. Collecting these collectables added an extra challenge because the levels still needed to be completed within thirty seconds. Initially, it is fine to explore, as there is little pressure. Once closer to the end of the game, however, each second spent exploring is one less second used to get to the end, and it is immediately obvious. The collectables add an additional challenge for those disinterested in speedrunning.

Leaderboard showing times of people who completed the level the quickest.
Keep pushing those times

Considering the many objectives featured, Aeon Drive had great difficulty balance. It was never overwhelming, but if I wanted to push myself further, I could always attempt a faster strategy, or work towards a difficult collectable. At the same time, there were options available to alleviate some of the pressure. There were items scattered through each level. Collecting four of them allowed me to add five seconds to my timer, letting me spend more time in the level. If that is not enough, I could also disable the timer entirely. There are plenty of options to calibrate Aeon Drive.

But wait, there is more!

In addition to the single-player, there is local multiplayer. Instead of navigating levels, you travel through one longer level counterclockwise, as though you are a racecar on a racetrack. The first player to complete this lap (or the number of specified laps) is the victor. It is simple, but it could be fun if two equally experienced players play. Unfortunately, I found in practice that I had a competitive advantage over my friends who were not familiar with the game because I played through the campaign. It was still a good time but mastering Aeon Drive takes more than a couple of games.

Jack had already thrown her dagger above her and could teleport to it.
Keep it pushing

The atmosphere in Aeon Drive supports the fast-past nature of the platforming. The music is energetic and kept me in the loop. Likewise, the visuals are bright and distinct. Jack even has five different appearances, all of which are distinct and stand out from the background. Unfortunately, some of the backgrounds do blend in with some of the enemies. Sometimes, I would not even notice an enemy until I had already died. It did not happen often, but when it did occur, it was very frustrating. Regardless, largely, the game looks stunning, and the visuals stand out.

Conclusion

Aeon Drive was a lovely adventure. It was a bit short, but if interested in speedrunning or collecting many collectables, there is plenty of additional content to search for. While the levels themselves are not the highlight, capitalizing on Jack’s movement options and racing through levels will keep you coming back for more, if the times keep getting progressed.

Rapid Reviews Rating

4 out of 5

4

You can purchase Aeon Drive on the Nintendo eShop here

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