E3 2016 – Aragami Preview – The Shadow of Power (PS4)

Stealth is not my forte. I mean, I try, I really do, but there’s a reason my Destiny fireteam calls me Leroy Jenkins. I’m impatient and just want to use the weapons I’m given to do as much damage as possible, my own health be damned. I’ve been learning to take a more patient and tactical approach with games like Dishonored and Metal Gear Solid V, but if stealth fails in those I always have the option to go guns blazing and swords swinging. Not so much with Aragami.

E3 show floor demos are always a bit rushed, so showcasing a stealth based game where patience is key can be a little difficult. Having watched the developers expertly move through the level, quickly taking out enemies with skill and precision, I attempted to do the same myself — and failed miserably. See, Aragami is not a game where the sword-swinging, guns-blazing approach will work. This isn’t as limiting as it may seem however. Aragami is a powerful character that can use and manipulate shadows to his advantage.

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Aragami is a being born of shadow, summoned by Yamiko to save her from a prison-like fortress. Part of the story is discovering who Aragami is and why he was summoned to the mortal plane. Whatever his origins, being shadow allows him to warp instantly to shadow within a certain radius, as well as create areas of shadow to quickly move to. All of his special abilities are born of shadows as well, from a shadow trap that sucks in unsuspecting foes who get too close, to shadow daggers that can be thrown to eliminate threats. He even has the capability to vanish enemy bodies into shadows to prevent them from being found. From my brief hands-on time with it, I could tell that Aragami will be tough — especially for players who don’t typically remain in the shadows — but once players get their bearings with the breadth of abilities at their disposal, they’ll find a lot of fun to be had.

Multiple Ways to Stealth

Limiting the game to a stealth only approach also doesn’t mean that there aren’t multiple ways to play. It’s possible to stealth your way through the game without killing a single enemy. Conversely, people like me can still wet their blades with the blood of their foes and clear entire levels to progress. The levels are relatively open as well so that players aren’t forced in any one direction, though it still felt like I was rushing too much, as no matter if I went left, right, or straight, I was still apt to get myself caught and quickly killed. However, it did allow me to try out a number of different tactics and abilities to see what’s possible. In one case a guard saw me and came running. I quickly warped to the shadows behind him and let my blade do the work. It’s just too bad his buddy also saw me and didn’t let me get away with murdering his friend.

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After failing numerous times, I handed the controller back to the developers to see the experts at work, and the speed and ferocity with which they cruised through the level, ending their enemies, using the shadows and all abilities to their advantage, was eye opening to the sheer combination of ways that Aragami will allow players to play. For a title being billed as a dedicated stealth experience, there’s certainly a lot more to do than it looks like at first glance.

What adds even more possibilities is the co-op that Lince Works is adding to the mix, allowing you and a friend to stealth through levels together. This adds another entire layer of depth that the majority of other stealth games can’t claim, and a whole new reason for my friends to get mad at my Leroy Jenkins antics. Aragami is a stealth game redefining stealth as a meaningful experience, adding back in the tension of not being able to defend yourself in head on confrontations, and heavily rewarding players for patience and tactical thinking. 

For a whole bunch of sweet gifs that show Aragami in action, check out the game’s website here. And don’t forget to check out our interview with the studio, here.