It's great when underrated indie games get sequels and with that in mind, here's the wonderful Alwa's Legacy from Elden Pixels.
Last year, Tyler reviewed Alwa's Awakening and seemed to enjoy it. Although I still haven't played it, I figured I'd try out this sequel and I'm very glad that I did. For the unfamiliar, you play as a magically-inclined warrior named Zoe while exploring a huge interconnected game world. Right off the bat, I can easily say that the visuals are a substantial upgrade from Alwa's Awakening which was more 8-bit while Alwa's Legacy looks like it belongs in the PS1's library with its crisp and colourful style. The character sprites are adorable and superbly animated while the backgrounds are detailed and help make each area feel unique. You're also treated to a retro-style soundtrack that's filled with lovely tunes. Overall, I had a great deal of fun taking in the sounds and scenery as I traversed the expansive map.
Alwa's Legacy simply has you run, jump, and perform melee attacks at the start of its campaign and the controls are tight, responsive, and satisfying. Once you make some progress, you'll acquire a few gemstones that you can either use in combat or while platforming. For example, summoning a block will help you reach higher platforms while upgrading it then pushing it into an enemy can cause a lot of damage. You also get a bubble that ascends and allows you to hop on it as well as a lightning bolt that can shoot enemies and switches from a distance. Although these mechanics come together to form a fantastically varied formula, standing on the bubble can be pretty annoying because it's hard to tell when it's about to burst and many platforms require you to stand on it for its full duration in order to reach them. I wish it paused at its peak for a second in order to eliminate this needlessly frustrating aspect.
I love when Metroidvanias do an exceptional job of rewarding the player's ability to explore and Alwa's Legacy definitely does via its open-ended campaign and useful collectibles. As I played, I felt as if I could go anywhere in the game world after obtaining all 3 gemstones and after exploring for a while, I gathered enough orbs to upgrade my gemstones and made them even more capable. This upgrade system is handled fantastically and another system I enjoyed is that you can apply tears to save spots to turn them into warp points. You'll also acquire 4 abilities that let you do things like walk on spikes which is awesome. Finally, using everything that you've acquired in order to slay the few challenging bosses that are dotted around the map makes all of the exploring that you've done pay off substantially.
I definitely recommend Alwa's Legacy to any Metroidvania fan, especially those who enjoy cute retro-style adventures but it does have some annoying aspects. Aside from the frustrating bubble, one element that I found to be annoying is that you regularly have to perform the same moves in order to traverse the map. For example, placing a block then jumping on the block then summoning a bubble then jumping on the bubble to reach a faraway platform becomes quite tedious after a while. Speaking of tedious, travelling through areas that you already explored becomes rather monotonous as well and you'll have to do just that whenever you accidentally fall down a few screens or merely want to work your way back and explore new paths. Of course, these issues don't amount to all that much.
Alwa's Legacy is a lighthearted Metroidvania that's hard to put down once you start playing it. With tight gameplay that features an impressive amount of variety, I certainly recommend picking it up if you love exploring 2D worlds.
- + Tight 2D platforming gameplay set in a rewarding Metroidvania world
- + Delightful visuals and music
- + Fantastic sense of exploration
- - Too many scenarios rely on going through the same motions again and again
- - Using the bubble can be annoying
- - Re-traversing areas gets tedious