Back when I was a child, I often just explored the safe area of the tutorial or the first stage, where little to no enemies were there to hurt you and you were able to freely explore the stage and enjoy the mechanics. I roamed the mansion in Tomb Raider and tried to figure out the coolest moves in Ecco the Dolphin. I could do this for hours and I was completely absorbed into that world while doing it.
As I grew older, I actually wanted to beat the games I played. I wanted to overcome challenges, kill the final boss, solve the riddles. Exploring became a necessary task in order to find the next important quest item. When I found out about AER: Memories of Old, it felt like a flashback to my childhood. A game of exploration to enjoy at my own speed. No bosses to kill. No highscore to beat. Games like Journey and ABZÛ followed a similar approach and I liked them very much, but AER provides much more freedom.
The game begins in an ancient cave where the controls are introduced: WASD with E to interact, Mouse to look around (on Steam, PS4 version works with Gamepad). Nothing fancy. The art style is clear and simple.
When I started exploring the cave I learned that my name was Auk and I was a pilgrim. My quest is to visit three temples. And that’s all there is to know – I catch a dramatic glimpse of some dark presence and then the cave starts to collapse. I light my lantern (F) and hurry outside, press Space to jump and E and transform into a bird.
I’m a bird.
When I first dashed through the air, my angsty gamer heart was looking for some sort of stamina bar – but there is none. Nothing to worry about. Shortly before I transformed, I was told to follow the kites to progress, but that’s easier said than done. Until I got into the flight controls I lost track of said kites. I got lost. But after a few more wing flaps I decided that getting lost in this game is completely fine, because that is what it wants to be all about. So I began exploring the shattered floating islands – and fell in love. Every one of them is tinkered with great attention to details. And even though the visuals are very abstract, the world feels alive and has lots of details to find.
Once I got the hang of it, the flight mechanic felt actually quite forgiving to me and after a while it felt very natural to hop in and out bird-mode.
Ghosts and ruins are found in many places, revealing bits of the beautiful backstory and also hints about where to continue your pilgrimage. Progressing through the game you’ll find temple stages that feel much like a simplified version of the shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But AER wants you to relax, so don’t expect any too difficult tasks.
I had a good time playing AER: Memories of Old and warmly recommend it to anyone who enjoys games like Flower, Journey or ABZÛ. It is a peaceful game about exploring a world and story at your own pace. The game’s visuals, music and overall feeling are wonderful. However, don’t expect any brain-teasers or big surprises.
More beautiful images…
The game is now available on Steam (http://store.steampowered.com/app/331870/AER_Memories_of_Old/), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
About the Developer
Forgotten Key (http://forgottenkey.se) is a Swedish independent game studio founded in Karlshamn in 2011 by four students of Blekinge Institute of Technology. Forgotten Key strives to give the player an atmospheric experiences with distinctive and quirky adventures.
Today the team consists of five ambitious individuals making atmospheric games. They seek to experiment with video games in a way that gives the players an experience bigger than the entertainment that the mechanics provide. They create artistic and innovative video games that touch, inspire and stay with the player.
This game was build by students the last 5 years. Those group of student friends turned into a game studio and they became professionals. They had there ups and downs, but finalized the game and published it under a well known publisher.
About the Publisher
Daedalic Entertainment (http://www.daedalic.de) is a video game developer and publisher based in Hamburg, Germany. Best known for developing point-and-click adventure games. Also interesting is the fact that there games won several awards.