Aurion tells the story of Enzo Kori-Odan, the prince and soon-to-be king of Zama and his lovely bride-to-be, Erine Evou. On the day of their wedding/coronation, Zama is attacked by a mysterious force of commandos led by Erine’s brother, Ngarba Evou. Talk about a crappy wedding present. Exiled from his own kingdom along with his wife, Enzo must go on a journey across the land to find allies, learn about the world and what it means to be a king, all while going on an aurionic pilgrimage to awaken the four pillars of his Legacy. Luckily for Enzo he has his brave and steadfast wife at his side. Now I bet you are all wondering about what I meant about going on an aurionic pilgrimage. Aurions form the crux of the gameplay and story, so I’ll do my best to explain it clearly.
The battles are not turn-based, but fought in real-time with a heavy emphasis on action, such as jumping, blocking, combos, and using special techniques that can be assigned to the shortcuts on your HUD. There are no random battles, enemies wander around the map and battle begins when you bump into them. Activating an Aurion in combat gives you access to a new set of special elemental-based techniques. Each Aurion also has an Ultimate Legacy move that can be used once you meet the requirements. As you progress in the story, Enzo will also learn a fusion technique that allows him to combine up to four different Aurions at once and turning them into new Aurions, giving him access to even more powerful special abilities. However, using an Aurion and its techniques cost you AP (ability points), so you can’t use them all willy-nilly. To keep your AP from running out and deactivating your Aurion, you will need to either use a consumable item to restore it or use the charge up option during battle. The problem with that is charging up in battle leaves you stationary and vulnerable. Just imagine Goku screaming and powering up his chi and instead of his enemies waiting for him to be fully powered, they just run over and beat the hell out of him. This is what will happen to poor Enzo once the battles start getting more difficult later on in the game. Luckily some areas have elevated ledges where the enemies have trouble reaching you, so you can charge up in relative peace. Constantly needing to stand still and charge up during battle does lead to some pacing issues, though. You can also overcharge your AP to the point of a Limit Break, which increases your stats temporarily but it comes at a price. Charging over your AP limit causes damage to Enzo, so you require constant healing when trying to achieve a Limit Break or else your HP will drop so low enemies will have an easy time to finish you off. This is where Erine comes into play.
While the battles are fun and action-packed, there are a few problems with them. Enzo has a charge attack that is meant to be able to break an enemy’s guard and push him back, but due to the time it takes to charge it is pretty hard to pull off, making it useless for most encounters. Also annoying is how easy it is for enemies to hit and stun Enzo, leaving you staggered and unable to move while they constantly pound on you. Another thing to mention is the uneven difficulty. I would find myself breezing through enemy encounters in an area and dispatch them with no problems and then all of a sudden, I would be fighting for my life against a particularly strong boss or group of enemies. I don’t see this as a problem because I love having to pull out all the stops in a challenging fight, but I know plenty of people who would get angry over something like this. And on that note; there is an option in the menu to change the difficulty if you just want to experience the story and not fret too much over the combat.
There are a few more problems worth mentioning. Overall the game runs very smoothly, but there are a few technical issues that can be annoying. The game crashed on me once. I didn’t lose much progress though because the game has a very efficient auto-save system. Occasionally my controller would not work properly once I booted up the game, but that can also be fixed easily by disconnecting it and reconnecting it, or by restarting the game (by the way, due to the complex controls and fast-paced gameplay it is really recommended that you use a gamepad while playing). There are some minor spelling mistakes throughout the game, and sometimes you’ll find little bits of untranslated text (nothing important, though, just in some of the background pictures in the tutorials). It is understandable, though, as the game was made by a small team of people whose native language is not English. It doesn’t do much to detract from the game, but it does make it look unpolished. While all this may sound like a lot of problems, Aurion is a game that is much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch Enzo and Erine interact with each other on their journey to reclaim their home, and Aurion offers a lot of gameplay for its very affordable price. Combine that with a unique world and fantastic story about discovering our true selves and you have yourself a memorable adventure that is too good to miss.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8/10
+Nice hand drawn aesthetic
+Lengthy playtime for a cheap price
-Some technical issues
-Minor translation issues