Although 2D games may seem like a thing of the past, they continue to show their worth in the modern age by bringing in new fun tactics and vast maps. From Hollow Knight to Limbo, each installment offers a unique experience through gameplay, storytelling, and intricate levels that require you to strategize. And now, the 2D collection has expanded even more with the Metroidvania action-adventure, Afterimage.
At first glance, the game’s art style felt very similar to Genshin Impact’s designs, since they both have vibrantly colored worlds and characters with anime-like features. After some time with the game, Afterimage sets itself apart visually, especially since everything is hand-drawn, similar to Cuphead, which must have been challenging due to the wide variety of locations and monsters.
In the beginning, you are introduced to the world of Engardin, filled with formidable beasts and dangerous beings known as “Wanderers.” As a player, you’ll take on the role of Renee and utilize her warrior skills to eliminate anyone who stands in her way. The first mission mandates her to patrol the area with her companion, Ifree, where she encounters various foes with different attack techniques.
I’ll admit that the story aspect was a bit confusing since it didn’t fully explain everything that was going and there was some terminology I didn’t know the meaning of. Nevertheless, being that it is a preview, there’s a possibility of more clarification with the final product.
Afterimage’s most shining aspect is its dynamic gameplay mechanics and non-linear levels. Even if I only played a portion of the narrative, I was impressed with how extensive the map was, given that there were so many hidden areas and alternate routes that could lead to valuable treasures. On top of that, not only does every monster have its own individual design, but they also have diverse movements and techniques.
While some creatures are easy to take down, others require you to time attacks or devise a strategic plan. For instance, a bird-like adversary has a harmful dash, forcing players to dodge them quickly and use their weapons immediately. Then, players must strike the arrow of an archer Wanderer to send the projectile back, injuring it in the process.
Even if I have played 2D games before, the enemies of Afterimage are relatively tricky to eliminate, mainly when they all attack you simultaneously. It also doesn’t help that there aren’t many checkpoints, forcing you to go back from square one and re-do everything all over. On the other hand, players that enjoy a challenge will undoubtedly enjoy the experience because there’s always something different to tackle with each domain.
Fortunately, Afterimage’s RPG mechanics provide you with weapons, skills, and tools to enhance Renee’s battle performance. In particular, the Talent system boosts the character’s HP, MP, Defense, and Attack by connecting it through the ability tree.
You’ll also receive bonus mobility skills from fallen adversaries, like the Emblem of Windwalker perk, enhancing Renee’s walking speed and jump. What I liked about this concept is how it allows players to go to areas they couldn’t reach before by dashing mid-air and timing their landing, resulting in more destinations to discover.
The one thing I will say is to watch out for the character’s health bar due to its low spawn rate of regenerative potions and limitations of healing powers. However, like most games, it does get better over time after you equip the proper materials and buffs.
Besides the gameplay, the scenery and visuals are one of the most outstanding designs I’ve seen in a game, and you can definitely tell that a lot of time and effort was spent on every character and location. Sometimes you’ll explore a dark and mysterious dungeon, and then other times you’ll travel through a radiant field of grass.
As a result, each destination offers a brand new experience, whether it be a complex maze or the home of a terrifying boss. Furthermore, the soundtrack changes with the landscape, featuring a melodic piano that eases the tension during complicated battles.
With these features in mind, I would highly recommend Afterimage for more experienced 2D gamers that are looking for a challenge because of its high-leveled boss fights and perplexing map. Even those who are beginners can try it out as long as they can accept a few rage quits here and there. Still, it is incredibly satisfying to defeat powerful enemies or solve a complex puzzle.
I do look forward to seeing how the game improves once it officially releases since the developers have tried to integrate changes through fan feedback on various social media platforms. All in all, Afterimage will definitely continue the hot streak of 2D games, proving that they are here to stay.