Puzzle-based platformers, when done right, are a staple of gaming, taking the simplicity of the genre’s flagship titles and embellishing them in more complex designs, only serving to add difficulty to the experience. Ageless succeeds in spades when it comes to throwing challenge at the player with a side of hop and leap topped off by gorgeous artwork and a masterful score.
If you’re not in a reading mood today, we also have our video review that you can watch below…
The beginnings are simple, with the bog-standard jumping sections, avoiding bottomless pits and a fire-ridden death, but things quickly ramp up to the point of duking it out with big beefy enemies as you leap from platform to platform. That being said, a lot of the enemies on your path are there to be used as tools to further your progression. You’ll often find yourself propelling your comrades into certain death, timing a perfect leap so that you can hop from their back onto the platform out of reach. It’s tricky but oh-so rewarding and this intricate design for each level amps up with unbelievable fluidity as you progress, making the adventure feel intuitive but difficult in all the right ways.
How do you launch them? Time manipulation, a tool that essentially alters the state of interactable objects in your environment, such as plants. However, this neat spin serves to add an interesting quirk to the platforming. One example can be found within the first twenty minutes as you have to figure out how to utilise the growing vines to your advantage whilst also shooting rhinos across a death-pit so they can reach the next platform where they can ram down a breakable wall. At first, it’s self-explanatory, but as the puzzles grow in their depth, you’ll find yourself putting more thought into each section and when you’re face-to-face with more challenging enemies, you quickly find yourself knee-deep in the action. It’s engaging, making the journey feel earned as you begin to fully understand Ageless’ design. The only downside is the janky aiming as you alter the state of various things by using a bow-and-arrow. It can be a bit finnicky lining up a shot.
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Story / Personality
There are moments of brilliance in Ageless’ narrative and storytelling, from the overwhelming anxiety Kiara feels to her inner struggles that bring her own person into question, but in totality, Ageless stumbles at the hurdle of writing, with some fairly cheesy dialogue and uninspired characters. There’s a hint of meaning and depth reminiscent of a depression-clad Celeste, but ultimately very little meat on the bones. The story and world is kept ambiguous and mysterious beyond the starting goal, unfolding the more that you venture through Ageless’ puzzle-ridden levels. Yet, rather than the shroud acting as a means of reeling you in with developing intrigue like in Dark Souls, Ageless instead rewards you with a gradually unfolding stream of weak writing. It’s not quite as bad as the first Resident Evil, but it’s certainly enough to cause a few eye rolls, especially in the plentiful exposition dumps.
Graphics / Art Direction
Ageless has a stunning variety of back-drops, from the grim and grimy grey caverns to the luscious forests to the very beginning with the sombre water- colour purple depths. There are elements of steampunk, medieval and gothic design all perfectly interwoven into a diverse treasure trove of gorgeous pixel- art wonders. The charm it has is a perfect blend between retro classics and modern indie, gushing personality and style, with a beautiful map to kick off every game when you start it up and a crisp user-interface that oozes style without getting bogged down in over-complexity and ambition.
Final Score: 86%
Completionists will have an absolute ball when it comes to Ageless given its wealth of collectibles and fans of the platforming genre will find more than their fair share when it comes to this puzzle-sporting gem. Barring some fairly lacklustre dialogue and a less-than-precise aiming mechanic, Ageless falters in very few respects, standing proud as an all-around polished experience that is engaging from start to finish. There’s something magical and youthful about Kiara’s tale that’s reflected in spades when it comes to the design, music, and gameplay.
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