The common theme you'll see throughout this review is that Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is full of good ideas but lacks in execution. This tribal Africa inspired action RPG is exciting when described but quickly falls apart once you get further into the game—nearly all the problems come from a lack of care given to the details. Aurion surely could have used some more polish.
The first thing to talk about is the combat, as that is the meat of the game. In my first impressions of the game I said Aurion reminded me a lot of Dragon Ball Z. Now I would like to add Avatar to the list. You'll be hacking and slashing opponents all around the screen, throwing fire, earth, lightning, wind, and everything else at them while you do.
Aurion's a 2D sidecrolling hack-and-slash game through and through, and it doesn't do a whole lot to iterate on it. If you've played something in the genre before, Aurion will feel very similar. You use an "Aurion" to change your moveset—it also adjusts your stats—which are based around the elements.
They actually have a great variety and do everything from trapping enemies in a whirlwind to damage them, throwing them in the air, throwing spears of ice at them, creating huge explosions that fill the screen, and more. These can be quite the sight as each Aurion has an unique ultimate ability with some great animations. That's where the Avatar comparison feels apt, as much of what you can do in the game would fit right in with the show.
You can change Aurions at any time, so you would think that you could get some cool combos switching in and out. Well, that's difficult to do in that once enemies are knocked to the ground, you'll have to wait for them to stand back up again to do any damage to them. This takes away from the fluidity of the combat a great deal, as all of a sudden you will sometimes have to sit and wait to continue. You can try to juggle enemies in the air all you want, but eventually they'll fall like a rock to the ground.
It gets a little worse the further you get into the game, as you can just sit there and spam some of the powerful moves you have unlocked, which will then tear through most enemies like nothing. That becomes the case with the boss fights for the most part as well. Some of the bosses have some interesting moves you'll have to avoid coupled with some movements you'll have to keep an eye out for if you don't want to get hurt too bad. However, all fights become the same as you spam some moves, learn to avoid the few your enemy has, rinse and repeat.
Part of why they are the same is a bit of a missed opportunity. You go into encounters to start a fight, so you're not free battling on the screen with enemies you come across. Instead, you go into a loading screen, which then pops you into a stage where a group of enemies awaits you. Some of these have some platforms to give the fight some verticality, but most add nothing. That just makes me ask why have encounters in the first place if the stages where they take place offer no variety in design.
It makes me all the more heartbroken as at the end of the game you get these long combat sequences over rather large sections as you run from one group of enemies to the next in one huge encounter. This allowed for some great pacing, which more or less didn't exist before as you waited for loading screen after loading screen between encounters.
In any case, the combat was fun at times, but quickly became the same stuff over and over rather quickly.
One of the neat things about Aurion is how the progression of the main character gameplaywise is directly tied to the story. As the character grows, he unlocks Aurions, all of which are tied to certain emotions or character traits that he'll gain throughout the game. The most significant among those play a role in the story, as the main character grows to make better decisions.
You play as King Enzo, who gets exiled from his kingdom, Zama, by his brother-in-law and then begins the quest to take it back with his wife Erine at his side the whole way. From that simple beginning, the story quickly ramps up as Enzo, whose kingdom was shielded from the world at large, is exposed to more tribes and their way of life. Once he sees all those problems, he and Erine decide that what's going on in the world is bigger than Zama and must be stopped.
The overall plot is something that most who have read fantasy or played fantasy games should be fairly familiar with. Nothing should greatly surprise you at all. It's just unfortunate that we're getting this rather generic fantasy story with a bit of an African covering, rather than something unique based on some African culture, belief, or folklore. Another missed opportunity to do something interesting.
The most annoying factor in the writing is the poor translation (see the image a couple paragraphs before). While you will probably have no issue understanding what's being conveyed, the dialogue is full of typos, odd word choice, and poor sentence structure. If there was just a little dialogue that would be no issue, but Aurion is full of exposition and cutscenes. So the frequency of the poor translation issues just gets compounded with how much dialogue there is, which adds frustration upon frustration as the pace of the game is constantly tied up in these scenes.
This inconsistency and lack of attention to detail is by far the worst in its technical problems. For the first nine or so hours, of the thirteen hour game, I crashed pretty much every hour right on the hour. I also experienced a bug where I got stuck and had to start over from the beginning—luckily I was only a little over an hour into the game. There were issues with random sounds triggering at times, odd graphical load in bugs, and more. Basically, there was a little bit of just about every kind of problem. No problems were big enough, except one, to make the game unplayable, but they were definitely noticeable.
Those pop ins certainly cause some of the clashes with the mostly beautiful art and animations you'll find in Aurion. However, as you see in the screenshot above, the inconsistency continues. It is as though some of the images are of a certain resolution then blown up far past the size they should be, which makes them look very pixellated. It gets worse as there are some sections that seem to have several different art styles going at once. This definitely becomes most noticeable on the various NPCs in the world, particularly the ones that have any meaningful animation like dancing to them, as the quality drops significantly.
Mirroring that feeling almost exactly is that of the music. Early on you get introduced to some neat music that sells the African theme immediately. However, soon after your stuck with some generic game music that becomes nothing more than background noise. It's unfortunate as the soundtrack is rather small in that you'll hear the same tracks over and over again. It's even more unfortunate in that it is the generic music that gets overplayed.
Overall, the best way I can think of Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is that it is a game showing a lack of experience, which isn't terrible as it is the first outing for Kiro'o Games. All of the pieces for a pretty neat and unique game are here, yet none of theme are fully realized or given enough care to be something great.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan was reviewed on Steam with a controller. A review code was provided by the publisher.
A game full of interesting ideas but lacks the execution.