When you hear the word Aaero you probably think of a light bubbly chocolate bar, but it’s actually a video game and a very good one at that. To give context as to what type of game Aaero is, I would describe it as a rhythm shooter game and would say the closest experience I have come across to it in gaming was Rez on the Dreamcast, particularly in terms of its playing style and genre. Rez too is another fantastic experience if you have not given it a go and a good solid place to take inspiration from.
Chances are if you hate EDM (or probably do not even know what it is) this gaming experience is not going to be as enjoyable as it potentially could have been for you. The good news for me though is that I am more than impartial to a bit of EDM, and felt right at home with this game. The more recognised tracks in the game Flux Pavillions “I can’t stop” and Katy B’s “Katy on a mission” may help the game be a little more accessible to players due to their bigger commercial success than some of the other tracks.
As you would hope in any rhythm game, the soundtrack is of a good quality and I was pleased to find that the tracks distinctly felt different within the EDM genre, and therefore how the game and levels played. The soundtrack is perfectly pitched by fitting to the theme of the game by being deep, bassy and futuristic. It really is spot on. I think the bass coming through my headset nearly gave me another perforated eardrum, not that it would stop me playing this quite frankly brilliant game.
But do not be mistaken, Aaero is much more than a Rez clone. The main difference to Rez, as with many more recent rhythm based games, is there is a line or “ribbon” for you to follow by aligning your left analogue stick to the direction indicated. This produces the sound required to complete the track, thus giving you points toward your score. A very simple principle laid out in Amplitude et al. If you do not follow the ribbon, or you follow it late, the sound effect sound falls out of place, and you lose your score multiplier or potentially a shield. After three, that result in you restarting the level.
Onto the second stick, this is used for aiming your weapon at enemies or secrets that are to be found. Again, not a new gaming mechanic, but you can chain enemies together to increase your multiplier and at the same time increase your score by killing enemies to the beat. I am not sure what the secrets are meant to represent, but they seem to be small numbers of red lights you have to spot and shoot within each level. I guess they add to replayability for completionists. Other variations in the levels involve boss battles, usually in the form of an oversized enemy. It is a good variation and playing through the first time, you never know when you are going to encounter a boss. At the start of a level, midway through or at the end. It is a welcomed surprise element.
Each stage has the potential for you to obtain up to five stars based on the score acquired. Obtaining five stars will have you coming back for more, as you to try and perfect the score until you reach that all-important five-star rating. Once you feel you have mastered that, you can always up the difficulty or try and climb the global score leaderboard. The size of the level can vary, and that is down to the length of the track aligned to the level. At times, this can be noticeable as some of the levels seem considerably longer than others. But I did not feel or consider this to be an issue.
At Two Beard Towers I probably have more of a preference to play AAA titles than most of the other reviewers who are all massive Indy gaming fans (my idea of Indy gaming was Indiana Jones and the Emperors Tomb). I was mightily impressed by the high production in Aaero and because of that, for me, it feels like a full retail release. I have already mentioned the fitting, and excellent, soundtrack. The smooth neon visuals are equally as impressive. Sharp and bright and running at 60 FPS to keep you fully engaged, it all comes together beautifully to form a fantastic, and quite unique current gaming experience.
The Team at Mad Fellows have done a fantastic job with Aaero and whilst you can see where the takes its influences from, it really does feel a unique experience. It genuinely is worth every penny of its asking price and I will be interested to see what comes out of the Mad Fellows studio with any future releases. The game is not only one of my favourite indie games, but it is also one of my favourite gaming experiences this year. When it comes to my overall feeling and enjoyment of the game, I think Flux Pavillions track title “I can’t stop” sums it perfectly.
Beard Score: 9/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (Dec)
Release Date: 11/04/2017
No. of Players: 1
Category: Music, Rhythm
Publisher: Mad Fellows