Retro platformers have been coming back in a big way and this has never been more apparent than the Nintendo Switch eShop giving us many different types of retro goodness. Wonder Boy really caught my heart earlier in the Switch lifecycle and I appreciate platformers that try and put a unique spin on the genre to make it their own. Developer Storybird Games hopes to do just that with their charming old-school platform Aggelos and fortunately they largely succeed in delivering a heartfelt and authentic experience.
Aggelos doesn’t feature an exposition heavy narrative with the main story centering around an evil force that has gathered the four rare elements together in order to open portals letting in all types of monsters to overwhelm the people of the world. The king has summoned you to find the elements and bring an end to the evil that has overtaken the realm. Your main goal will be to gather these elements and fight monsters going across multiple landscapes.
As straightforward as this might sound, there is a nice balance of exploring, killing enemies, puzzle solving, platforming, and boss fighting. Aggelos consistently mixes up this formula which keeps things fresh and hard for repetition to settle in. There seems to always be something to whether in the main quest or a side-quest.
Throughout your time playing new abilities and attacks are learned to make the progression feel ever-changing and exciting to not really know what’s coming next. Aggelos also excels in its direction and navigation of the environments, as I never felt lost thanks to a helpful magician in the castle who can always tell you exactly where to go for the main quest. The townspeople also drop hints on how to find special items and break up the monotony of just platforming and fighting enemies.
However, where the story progression is unbalanced is with how the difficulty shoots up shortly after the first boss you face. Aggelos gets extremely difficult and it really fluctuates throughout your adventure, getting to frustrating at times. The gameplay mechanics are solid and not overbearing, but the scaling of the enemies can sometimes feel off.
You do get unlimited continues though, but this still doesn’t help the frustration of not having the quick reaction time or knowledge of puzzle platformers needed for this type of game and wanting to continue the adventure. While Aggelos does well for letting the player understand all the basic systems during the first 30 minutes, the steep increase in difficulty might turn less experienced players away.
The enemy designs are basic and I could never understand some of the monster designs as they appeared innocent enough. Not that they were bad by any stretch of the imagination, but the monsters did not really instill fear. Bosses are not too unique in design, but their attack patterns definitely help them stand out. These bosses are tough and it’s satisfying when defeating a boss after failing multiple times to subdue the foe.
Aggelos has an open world design that connects everything together and there are plenty of different skills and abilities to help travers the world easier. There’s even a fast travel item you can earn for faster navigation, which definitely helps eliminate backtracking. The graphics did a great job of providing a retro aesthetic and looks like an old-school title while still feeling modern. Also, the music compliments the design brilliantly and the chip tunes nature brought me back to a simpler time. This is where the Switch version is the perfect way to experience Aggelos, as taking this adventure on-the-go is the best way to play.
Overall, Aggelos was one of those surprise retro adventures that I didn’t have on my radar but I’m glad I was able to experience. Even though there were some truly difficult moments I enjoyed the level of challenging puzzle platforming that brought me back to the games I adored while I was growing up. It was tough for Aggelos to feel repetitive, given that you still learn new abilities and have different enemy variations throughout your entire play through. The premise may be simple, but Aggelos is a title every retro gaming fan should experience.