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Aragami: Nightfall DLC Review

Lince Works’ Aragami sent ripples of joy through the stealth-focused gaming crowd when it launched in 2016. Boasting smooth, accessible, and customizable gameplay through an intriguing and Eastern-inspired world, Aragami was a delightful title that truly emphasized the need to be cleverly stealthy. Its unique artistic style and its seamless selection of shadowy skills made it an indie that shone well beyond its modest price tag, and which continues to hook new players and engage the old. Aragami: Nightfall is Lince Works’ follow-up to that superb entry, and while it certainly wears Aragami’s shoes, it’s questionable as to whether or not it fills them.

FILLING IN THE BLANKS

Without introducing spoilers for either the DLC or the original, suffice to say that Aragami: Nightfall takes place before the events of Aragami – a title in which you play as a summoned shadow spirit that seeks to discover and release the imprisoned girl that called you forth. Nightfall follows the story of shadow assassins Hyo and Shinobu as they pursue the Alchemist in their struggle against the Kaiho, an army of light.

It would be difficult to play Nightfall without having first completed Aragami, and Lince Works warns you of this in the menu. There are plot discoveries in Aragami that you will ruin for yourself if you stumble onto them in Nightfall, and it’s best to take Lince Works at their word and enjoy the Aragami plotline before you enter Nightfall’s.

PICK YOUR PLAYSTYLE

As with the first entry, Nightfall utilizes a series of skills that allow you to either violently dominate your levels or slip silently through them. Three new Shadow Techniques are available for your playing pleasure, and while this won’t mean much for newcomers, original enthusiasts will be happy to have new toys to play with when they get onto the field.

Your skills involve the ability to use shadows to your advantage, both literally and magically. Your primary skill is to teleport from shadow to shadow without a peep, and the secondary to create those shadows. To recharge your abilities, you must be within a dark enough shadow, and there’s a limit to how far you can leap and how far you can draw. Find collectible scrolls as you make your mad dash through each challenge to unlock new abilities and new ways to play, and each level grades your effort to provide greater replayability.

CO-OP HEAVY

Nightfall is playable alone, but it doesn’t hesitate to encourage you to play with a friend. Both Hyo and Shinobu are selectable characters, and when you’re playing by yourself, you have minor controls for the second as well. That second character may not visibly tag along with you through each level, but when you push through gates that serve as entries into new areas, you’ll see both Hyo and Shinobu open them together. It’s a bit jarring when you’re alone, but when you’re with a pal, it makes more sense.

And, boy, did Lince Works make it easier than ever to bring that pal along. Nightfall is cross-platform co-op, and fully optimized for getting you into a game with your friend. The levels, too, are wider and more expansive than in the original Aragami, which makes having a partner help you search for obscure objectives all the more attractive. You can go it alone, but it does feel as though Nightfall gives you a bit of a wink and a nudge in the opposite direction.

LOVELY, ALBEIT GLITCHY

Many of the traits that made Aragami such a captivating stealth indie are present in Nightfall, too. The art and Eastern sound design are spot-on, feeling exceptionally authentic and visually enchanting. However, there are niggling details that cause this entry to lag behind the original. For instance, water effects visible by the first chapter feel bizarrely out of place and unpolished, and many tiny bugs pepper Nightfall’s otherwise charming surface.

Missed opportunities, like not changing the footprints out from snow tracks when you enter a house, and snow falling from ceilings, imbue Nightfall with a hurried taste. Other genuine glitches, like being unable to enter a certain gate, or having objectives incorrectly labeled, hamper the otherwise smooth gameplay. It can also be difficult to ascertain what exactly you’re being asked to do in each chapter, which forces a great deal of backtracking through areas that often look frustratingly similar.

ANOTHER ARAGAMI, SORT OF

Under the hood, Nightfall is Aragami. Aragami is Nightfall. But the DLC lacks a few secret ingredients that the original had in an abundance, and it shows in the finished product. What Nightfall copied from Aragami is strong, and what was newly added occasionally disappoints. Regardless, it’s a delight to have a DLC produced for a highly underrated stealth indie released in 2016, and fans of the original title should be well pleased to have another slice of that unusual and delectable stealth pie.

6

The Verdict: Good

A stealth-focused DLC for the much-celebrated Aragami, Aragami: Nightfall offers a tantalizing mouthful of backstory for enthusiast Aragami players. As an extension to the first it does well, but in many ways it falls short of the outstanding original, leaving newcomers and fans alike still hungry for more.

Taryn Ziegler
Written by
July 10, 2018
Published in Action

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Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.

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