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AereA Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While I'm sure this is significantly more fun with friends around, I spent most of the game wishing that AereA had more to offer. I like the throwback visuals and the nice variety of colorful worlds, but hate how simplistic the combat is and how almost every mission plays out exactly the same way. I want to see more equipment, more plot twists and more difficult bosses. This is a game that flirts with a charming theme and some clever ideas, but comes far short of a standing ovation. Rating: 71%
AereA
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  • Review Score:

  • B
I've always had a soft spot for Secret of Mana. While it wasn't as big or epic as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, this Super NES action/role-playing game managed to stand out thanks in large part to the three-person multiplayer questing. This was one of the few adventure games that hoped you would gather your friends around the TV and work together to solve puzzles and take down bosses. I loved it, and hoped that this type of local multiplayer mode would be included in more role-playing games.

This seems to be the approach of AereA, the brand new music-themed adventure game where the focus is on questing with friends. This four-player RPG isn't as big or as epic as Skyrim or Dark Souls, but it manages to stand out thanks in large part to the local multiplayer mode. In a lot of ways, this is exactly the kind of game I was hoping we would see more of after I beat Secret of Mana all those years ago.


AereA embraces its music theme in some fun and clever ways. You play a disciple of the Great Maestro Guido who has to go on an island-hopping journey to collect the nine primordial instruments and unravel the mysteries of Aezir. You do this by choosing between several characters equipped with weapons made up entirely of musical instruments. There's Wolf the Harp-Archer, Jacques the Cello-Knight, Jules the Lute-Mage, or Claude the Trumpet-Gunner.

Instead of being one large open world, we see these heroes jumping back and forth between the sewers, snow-covered mountains, lava dungeon and a bunch of other familiar fantasy settings. You'll pick up a bunch of quests from the inhabitants at the concert hall and fly your trusty airship all over the world to kill a certain amount of bad guys, collect a certain item, rescue people that are lost in the woods, fight giant monsters and gather up those primordial instruments. It's not exactly ground breaking stuff, but it has a charming theme and a lot of levels to fight through.

As action/role-playing games go, this one is on the simple side. The combat is little more than using the primary and secondary attacks to slaughter a bunch of giant insects and angry animals. You'll also be able to switch between three character-specific abilities that can be equipped and upgraded throughout the game. Sadly, you aren't able to customize your character with new weapons or armor, since most of the depth comes from spending money on upgrades and buying new items.

Much like Secret of Mana, this is a game that is designed to be played a big group of friends. Unfortunately, I did not have a big group of friends around when I went to play through AereA. The good news is that I didn't feel like I was missing out by going it solo. I mean, I'm certain that I would have had even more fun working together as a team, but I had an easy time going through it by myself. In fact, I had too easy of a time going through it solo. And that's part of the problem.

AereA (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the difficulty scales depending on how many people you have in your team, because I found the game to be far too easy. The levels are filled with weak enemies that usually only take one or two smacks to defeat. Worse yet, you can beat many of the bosses in a matter of seconds. No, seriously. Watch how long it takes me to fight the Accordion Snake. That only took me 13 seconds, and I probably could have cut that in half if I used one of my special abilities. Pretty much every boss can be defeated this quickly when you go it alone.

On top of being easy, AereA is also painfully repetitive. You'll end up having to replay the same stages multiple times before the end, rarely with any changes made to them. These locations also tend to use the same labyrinth puzzle, which has you running around a maze looking for levers to open locked doors. Occasionally you'll have to fit a colored block into the right hole, but pretty much every puzzle comes down to unlocking doors and gates. That started to get to me after a while, and it made me wish that there was a little more to do in this fantasy world.

While I'm sure this is significantly more fun with friends around, I spent most of the game wishing that AereA had more to offer. I like the throwback visuals and the nice variety of colorful worlds, but hate how simplistic the combat is and how almost every mission plays out exactly the same way. I want to see more equipment, more plot twists and more difficult bosses. This is a game that flirts with a charming theme and some clever ideas, but comes far short of a standing ovation.
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