It’s been a while since I’ve done a review so I thought I would ease myself back into the swing of things with what appeared to be a lighthearted puzzle-platformer. Wrong! Don’t let those charming character designs and colorful scrolling backgrounds deceive you; Aero’s Quest is more platformer than puzzle and will test all of your gaming skills; even the ones you might not possess…yet. You’ll be playing Aero on his quest to save Ariella from the evil Andraus (back off Sarkeesian). You’ll get to explore and conquer 101 levels spread across ten different zones in your seemingly impossible quest for love and 13 Steam achievements.
Aero’s Quest isn’t shy in hiding its 90’s platforming influences, both in thematic design as well as brutal difficulty whether you are playing in normal adventure mode or battling the clock in speed run trials so you can dominate the leaderboards and brag to all your friends. Given the level of difficulty I was surprised at my own level of frustration, which was strangely absent. Every time I failed I knew exactly why. There was nothing cheap about my death and I almost always learned from it, so I was able to do better the next attempt. That’s the big difference between frustrating and addicting. I always wanted to try again.
I was comfortable with the control by the end of the tutorial even though it took me many more hours to master them. Making the most of power-ups is crucial to your success, and learning the lay of the land helps when you start having to do some Metroid-backtracking to previous areas. The puzzles in the game are surprisingly unique and varied but not terribly challenging; certainly nothing compared to the platforming skills required to navigate the levels.
The presentation is retro-chic with charming graphics that are certainly better than a lot of the 8 and 16-bit pixel-art games releasing this summer, but they still pay sprite-like homage to the classic days of NES and Genesis gaming. Animations are fluid and the controls are spot-on, which is an absolute must given some of the platforming puzzles. The sound and music fit the theme of the game perfectly.
The only stumbling block for Aero’s Quest is that it doesn’t get addicting until about two hours in, and casual gamers not up for the challenge may never get to that point. Once out of the tutorial the game begins to beat down your reflexes and ego almost immediately, but if you stick with it you will find a very rewarding and completely addictive game that you will not only finish, but likely find yourself battling for leaderboard supremacy on those Speed Runs.
It’s also worth noting that as of this review the designers have just released a significant update to the game that has tightened up the controls for gamepad players, allows for remapping of keys for keyboard players, and many other bug fixes and features like screenshots and trading cards. It’s refreshing to see some post-launch support for this budget indie title.
So if you are ready for a stylized trip down memory lane along with all the brutally challenging gameplay of those 90’s classic platformers, you will definitely want to check out Aero’s Quest now available on Steam for only $5.