Nevan here... with... a review....
I don't support the esteemed indie market as much as I should. I really don't have an excuse since most of the games that come out of small studios are not only cheap, but are also quirky in both art and concept. So during the last Steam sale, while many were picking up copies of year-old-big-studio titles for reduced prices, I decided to pick up some indie games that I had heard good things about.
The game that will simply be known in this review as " AaaaaAa!!" was one of those games I only knew of because I have recently decided, curiously, to let a cynical British person with a trilby and a comprehensible grasp of every curseword in the English language decide all my future purchases. So when said cynical British person with a trilby and a comprehensible grasp of every curseword in the English language brought up AaaaaAa!!! in an article, automatically I was interested. Since this was a guy with a highly developed, or picky, sense of games I felt like I should check it out next time my attention span comes around. It did during the Steam sale, and I would have to say it was worth the reduced investment.
OverviewThe first thing one would notice about AaaaaAa!! is its sense of humor. If not already clear by the title: the developers do not take themselves seriously, and the game follows suit. The game takes place in a strange alternate future where the Earth has evolved technologically thanks to a series of "polystructures" that remain suspended in the atmosphere. Your objective is to BASE jump from these structures for points, and weave in between walls, flying cars, and other strange solid matter.
ExperienceI'm reminded of a few things when I play this game. First off, and I don't know why, the simplistic graphics and rock-electro soundtrack makes me think that this game would've been great to have on the Dreamcast. Having not had one, I can't back up that statement too much. But to me, the game has a sort of late-90s-early-2000s retro feel to it: back when we were starting to work out most of the kinks in 3D gaming. It reminds me most of Rez due to its abstract-style version of the future: which is the only way to depict it. However, it may have been due to a small budget but I must note that there's a small nod to Shenmue hidden in the menu so I may not be too far off.
Another thing I'm reminded of is Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones... and for the many out there, I apologize that I reminded you of that 2-hour Hasbro commercial. If you don't remember, there's a scene where Anakin goes after Padme's would-be assassin by jumping out of his hovercar and down the endless skies above Coruscant. The base jumping in this game is very reminiscent of that, and even the halo jump scene from Tomorrow Never Dies.
But to move away from movie references, I also like to think of this game being like the now-fallen extreme sports genre. I think this game may have be better Tony Hawk than the whole franchise, because it has that adrenaline pumping feeling that comes with extreme sports. Being able to successfully fall through 500 stories of floating city, crash through panes of glass/bonus points, spray graffiti on select buildings, flip off pedestrians on bridges, and then land with all your bones intact has more feeling of accomplishment than the birdman's franchise ever could without feeling that you just barely pulled it all off.
But the game does have the sort of trial-and-error that comes with such games. But while in those games you just have to start the whole trick again, here you have to start the whole level again. It's not as bad as it sounds: the levels are short and plentiful. But the problem I had was with the perspective sabotaging some jumps. If you, God forbid, hit a wall you become disorientated and need to realign yourself before its too late. "Too late", being, smashing your tiny head on the concrete: which will happen often if you're not careful. When you hit a wall, sometimes you may as well restart the level yourself.
As for the humor, I have nothing to compare it to. Instead of trying to compress it into a professional-sounding paragraph, here's a few things this game has that I feel summarize its sense of humor.
- The "Setup", "Bye!" and "Jump" buttons on the main screen use a picture of a on/off swtich, a crying girl, and Mount Rushmore respectively.
- "Click here to leave me to the wolves. Wolf. Wolves. Hoof. Hooves. Roof. Rooves."
- "I am a cube. You have fingers. But I have a soul."
- Unlockable meditation videos
- Unlockable videos about pig care
- Unlockable videos about making cookies
- Unlockable time travel survival tips
- "You are now a pile of calcium."
- Nevan the radio newscaster
- The ingame currency is "teeth".
- "Dejobaan Games sucks"
ReplayabilityAs I type this, I have not completed AaaaaAa!! . However, I don't see a lot of reason for replay after all the levels have five-stars. It is not a game that one would want to complete in a day. If you decide to rush through the game, you will not be able to savor the bright & abstract atmosphere, the rush of successfully falling through small spaces at high speeds, and (if I may borrow a term from the cynical British person with a trilby and a comprehensible grasp of every curseword in the English language) the 'anarchic sense of humor'. Honestly, what sort of game lets you unlock tutorials/dreamscapes of how to make chocolate chip cookies using a relative's cremated ashes?
Anyways, once its all unlocked, I don't see why you would want to erase the data and start again on a whim. Then again, I haven't tried it. But I feel this is a game not to be rushed: but to be savored. Like a cremation-chip cookie laced with LCD. If there's any replay value to be had here, it would be finding different paths to take to achieve the best scores. After that, there may be nothing stopping you from closing the game and going back to Team Fortress 2.
Conclusion While this game doesn't have the replayability of some other indie-level games (Chime, Peggle) it still is an enjoyable experience. But I also picked this game up during the Steam sale. Turns out this game's current price is $10. Having played the game, I don't think it measures up to that price. $10 would usually mean replay value and/or varied gameplay: which AaaaaAa!! doesn't have a lot of.
This doesn't mean you should skip this game. It is still an unique experience packaged with some amusing quirks not seen in many big-budget titles today. There's nothing like it. If it there is, its in few company. That alone should make it worth your time, and keep Dejobaan Games on your radar.
3.5 / 5