Developer: One More Dream Studios
Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 28/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Ageless is a puzzle platformer with a unique time manipulation mechanic. Does the game stand the test of time? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Time For Something New
Whilst Ageless may appear to be a pretty standard platformer on the surface, the game predominantly focuses on a unique time mechanic. Kiara, our protagonist, uses a bow which can either advance or send back an object or animal in time. For example, the opening levels feature a dolphin who, by using the bow, can be changed into a whale for a bouncy platform. This feature helps Ageless stand out from the pixel platformer genre and even the puzzle genre in general. The time mechanic is something I haven’t played before and adds a real depth to the puzzles on offer.
Difficulty wise, its new ageing/de-ageing system takes some time to get used to and I must admit that a tutorial was often used after a few attempts. Once I was finally aware of the solutions then admittedly, they made sense and weren’t too farfetched.
Although it is mostly puzzles, there are a few light platforming moments, but it’s definitely a game geared for puzzle fans.
Prepare For Launch
Along with the bow, Ageless features a launch mechanic. By pressing the ‘Y’ button, I became ageless and could then launch myself off the different animals, objects and enemies.
The visual style becomes monochrome and launching helps to reach new areas, whilst de-ageing what I launched off. I enjoyed this titular mechanic and found it to be a good replacement from standard platforming.
I must admit that I haven’t played Celeste before but from looking at screenshots I can see how similar the games look. With that out of the way, I will no longer make any more comparisons to that game and will judge Ageless visuals on its own merit. I very much liked the pixel art style with the colour palette changing in each area. The game will see you travelling through different themed areas from the insides of a tree to the inside of a robot!
Ageless features a well-designed foreground and background with a nice level of detail to the changing animals and objects. Overall, the minimal player design along with the pixel environments combines to make a visual style I enjoyed.
The Gift That Stops On Giving
The story revolves around Kiara’s “gift”, an abstract object that grants our hero the power and motivation to solve puzzles. The story is pretty abstract with Kiara coming to terms with her gift and the power it withholds. Of course, things soon go wrong and our hero must confront her newfound power: should it be used for good, for bad or is the gift better left forgotten? Kiara often reveals her emotional battles and whilst it’s good to see developers dealing with the issue of mental health, the dialogue just didn’t work for me. It often felt forced and cliché with the hero constantly telling those around her to confront their battles. Admittedly, the story isn’t at the forefront with only a few dialogue scenes throughout the different areas.
So far, my thoughts on Ageless‘ puzzles and visuals have been fairly positive despite an average story but unfortunately the controls, specifically on Switch, completely ruined my experience. Like mentioned earlier, to change the age of the different fauna and animals, arrows must be fired. Unfortunately, this requires using the joystick to aim and I found it immensely hard to control. There were many times when I knew what to do but the controls didn’t aim up to the pixel perfect sprites I needed to hit.
In fact, once I had reached 87% story progress, I stopped. There was an area of the game that required six levels to be completed or progress from the previous part was reset. In all six levels, I knew what to do in terms of puzzles but the controls were not responsive and I had to fire the bow multiple times to even hit what I wanted to. Either due to enemies operating on a time limit or platforming that I found hard to control, I died and had to reset.
After an hour of this stage (and more than ten hours in the overall game), I had come up with a pretty good picture of the story, gameplay and controls, so decided to stop.
Ageless offers a very interesting game mechanic with some nice visuals. Unfortunately, the abysmal controls on the Switch leave a lot to be desired and ruined my experience. I haven’t played the PC version but I assume the preciseness of a mouse would provide a much better time with the game. With the Switch controls in mind, however, I find the Switch version of Ageless impossible to recommend.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Ageless for the Nintendo Switch here: Nintendo eShop