Aggelos – Wonder Boy bliss!

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This was my first-ever playthrough of Aggelos. The game is obviously inspired by one series in particular, and I am highly familiar with that series as well as the genres of this game. Before I started writing this review, I made sure to complete the game 100%. This does not include all achievements like beating the game under level 15, or a playthrough on hard mode. Frankly, normal mode was already a healthy challenge and I wasn’t really in the mood to play through the game again one/two more times right after beating it for the first time.

Important to note is that I’ve played the Steam version. Usually this wouldn’t make much of a difference, but many including myself have had issues with this version of the game which I will mention in the review. Unsurprisingly, the review and the verdict will be based on the Steam version as a result, though the game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Here is a game I’ve been looking forward to playing for a while! Aggelos is a game that spent some time on my wishlist since pretty much its release date. Didn’t end up buying it right away because my backlog is big enough as is, but it was definitely one of my top priorities when I felt it was time for new games. And the reason for that is actually pretty simple: it’s an indie game inspired by the Wonder Boy franchise. I love my 2D Platformers to bits, but that franchise in particular has a soft spot for me due to combining it with Action RPG elements–and arguably being a Metroidvania too. But even putting that aside, it just looked like a really charming game that pays homage to the classics. So eventually I found it for a good price and immediately went out to buy it. Today, we’re covering Aggelos!

The entirety of Aggelos has been streamed over at Twitch as well, with the archive playlist being available on YouTube!

The main protagonist was just chilling in his house and then bam! Prophecy! Or something at least, as he was drawn by a force to the forest west of his house. It doesn’t take long until it is discovered what that force is: a cute princess being chased by monsters. Because princesses in video games can never catch a break. We quickly learn that she escaped after being captured by the evil baddie because of course, and that he has plans to open a gate to the world of darkness with the four elements. And we are, unsurprisingly, the chosen superhero of legend DX to take care of this. A simple, yet effective plot setup for a game like this.

But what makes this hero so special? At the start of the game, not much really. He can slash a sword, jump and… that’s about it. But given what this game is inspired by, it obviously won’t take long until we learn new moves. Swordplay itself never really changes aside from an upwards slash and a ”woodpecker” attack that’s locked behind the game’s toughest platforming challenge… for more reasons than it just being challenging. Oh don’t worry, I’ll come back to you later. The combat itself is fine though, being more about positioning- and dodging rather than pulling off cool moves.

The combat itself is fine, being more about positioning- and dodging rather than pulling off cool moves.

The more interesting part about the combat is the elemental attacks that are unlocked over the course of the game, although I will say right away that there are only two that I really used in combat outside of specific situations. Like sure, both the earth- and water elements can damage enemies, but there weren’t a lot of times where I had to deal with enemies above me or all around me; they are usually just in front of me, or I can easily reach them with my sword and kill them quicker. Their speciality lies more in platforming, like the earth element being able to make literally anything a platform, and the water element making underwater traversal a breeze.

The other two elements, fire and air, are more useful to me in combat because the former is a forward projectile, and the latter is a dash that does damage while also making you invulnerable. Both of these elements are very useful in boss battles, and arguable against normal enemies as well. Funnily enough, they’re the opposite of the other two elements for me; both are good in combat, but neither are anything special for platforming outside of their respective dungeon.

But even though combat overall is fairly easy to understand, it can get decently challenging–but some of it is artificial. What I mean by that is that enemies can take a lot of hits and do a serious amount of damage to you; that is, unless you buy the next sword- and weapon upgrades, after which they basically become wet noodles. The differences are surprisingly noticeable, which I can prove by me leaving the Air Temple earlier to get better armour, and then being able to tank the boss while barely taking any damage. And I guess levels factor in too but honestly, there isn’t anything in the game that shows me what I even get from levelling. I just get a satisfying jingle and move on with my day, no idea if my stats increased or not. It’s part of an overarching problem that I’ll, yet again, come back to later.

Aggelos Earth Temple

Though to be fair, the Air Temple example I mentioned is an extreme case. You normally don’t leave a dungeon once you’re in until you beat it, and while the differences between armour are certainly noticeable, the enemies only get really strong near a place where you can buy upgrades to your gear. Before that, they’re all just a fair challenge like how an enemy should be. So yes, the scaling can definitely be weird, but it’s unlikely the game will ever throw you in a situation where you cry to mommy because you’re getting absolutely clobbered.

The bosses are perhaps the best example of how challenging the game can be because like I said, you should already have the best armour available to you at that point unless you’re a mad lad like me who leaves a dungeon. They usually test your mastery over the new element obtained in that temple, or just end up being an overall challenge when not part of a dungeon. Most of all, they’re massive and have attacks that cover a lot of the screen, yet again enforcing how important positioning is. Just mindlessly slashing won’t help you out here. The highlight for me is probably the dragon that they also advertise on the cover art, which has a pattern that’s easy to understand but tough to work with still.

The only problem with the bosses is that there is no indication at all when one is going to pop up. There is no save point or a special hallway to go through and instead, they just… happen. This is especially noticeable with the very first boss, where I went in completely unprepared, had the time of my life and then bam! Boss battle! Now fortunately, the only thing you lose on death is some experience so it’s not the end of the world, but this could have been handled better. Eventually, I learned to just expect them, but even then I sometimes ended up in boss rooms without being prepared.

Aggelos Dragon Fight

Saving- and teleporting is fortunately only an issue in the dungeons, and even there it doesn’t take too long to get back to the boss. Getting around this world is usually the least of my problems, since there are a good amount of save points scattered around in places near where you would usually like to revisit. Although it is admittedly kind of weird that the teleport item to travel between save points is completely optional to find. Not that I had any issues with it since I explore every crook and cranny, but that’s one of the few items that probably should not have been optional.

But even if you are not a pro explorer gamer dude like me (Sarcasm? Maybe), the world is arguably one of the best aspects of this game due to how easy it is to get everywhere despite it not being interconnected. I was also constantly rewarded for backtracking to places after I obtained new elements, be it through money, items that were useful in a trading sidequest, or that stupid woodpecker move. The only issue with the map really, is that your memory is also the only thing you can rely on. If you don’t then well…

Let’s not beat around the bush: Aggelos has some mostly minor issues, but they quickly build up and become annoyances. There was an example I mentioned earlier with no status screen showing me what levels actually do or what my stats are in general, and the same applies to the map. It’s a beautiful map that shows how the world is connected sure, but it’s not a functional map. I can’t see where areas connect with each other, what caves there are that may house secrets, or… well, pretty much anything. It’s literally just an overworld map to look at.

It’s a beautiful map that shows how the world is connected sure, but it’s not a functional map.

And finally, the issue with the Steam port. I mentioned in the ”before you read” section that my opinion is based on this version, and that’s for two reasons. The first is booting up the menu, which somehow causes the game to freeze for two seconds or even crash in the worst-case scenario. There’s something wrong when I’m actually afraid of booting up a simple menu. And the controller support is also very weak, with no inputs able to be changed and the D-pad just not working in general. I’ve been foreshadowing it this entire review, but the woodpecker trial was absolutely horrendous without the D-pad. The famous pogo stick move only works when the input is down, and strictly down. Going even into a slightly different angle automatically cancels the downward thrust. It caused unnecessary difficulty that could have been solved if the D-pad worked–and no, relying on 3rd party support does not mean this issue suddenly doesn’t exist.

Before I end this review though, I want to mention one thing because it feels I’ve been more negative than positive. Now of course, that’s how reviews work–that shouldn’t be all too surprising. But these negatives I’ve mentioned are more so nitpicks and critical feedback more than anything, because aside from the UI issues and the Steam port, I don’t really think the game does much wrong. In fact, I’ve had a blast playing through this game, and you won’t ever see me saying otherwise. I just have to be informative, and I know that some of the points I listed can easily put people off.

Aggelos is a title inspired by the good ol’ Wonder Boy games, and it succeeds exceedingly well at capturing the feel of this era in gaming. This world is a joy to explore, with secrets to find around every corner and it being generally easy to navigate even without fast travelling. Everything regarding combat is pretty simple to understand, but that’s how it should be for games like these. The collectable elements also add a nice variety to the combat, specifically for the fun and challenging boss battles. In general, I can say that the game is fairly challenging, but some of it is also artificial due to the purchase of new gear which turns it all around. I would say that the light RPG elements also help turn around the difficulty, but I honestly couldn’t tell because this game has some issues when it comes to the UI. There is no status screen indicating what levelling actually does beyond guessing that my stats increase, and the map is good looking but not even functional in the slightest. The Steam port makes it even worse as accessing the menu feels scary to do with it constantly feeling like it’s going to crash. All of these are definitely valid issues, but fortunately didn’t hamper the overall enjoyment too much.

7.5

Nepiki's Rating

Overall rating

Game Score
7.0
Fun Score
8.0
Positives
  • Captures the feel of its inspiration very well.
  • The world is easy- and quick to navigate.
  • Good boss battles.
Negatives
  • Hard to understand what levelling actually does.
  • The map is completely non-functional.
  • Slight artificial difficulty due to gear upgrades.

Thank you for reading! I mention it in the review as well, but I’m kind of bothered by how ”negative” I am about certain points, even though I ended up giving the game a high score. Oh well, honesty over everything! And I can assure you that if you like these kinds of games, Aggelos definitely won’t disappoint you.

Can you believe it has already been two months since my last review? Definitely weird for my standards, but I guess I’ve been having trouble with enjoying writing reviews lately. Sometimes I just don’t want to be objective and just mention what I love about a game. Hence why you may see more ”retrospectives” from now on, where I do exactly just that. It might still take a bit for the first retrospective to be here, but I can assure you: it will be a big one.

Of course, you can still always find me on Twitch, and I’ll still be writing. The emphasis on reviews has just been slightly lowered until my flame has been rekindled!

Is there a retro game that you would like to see get ”indiefied” to the point it captures the feel really well?

I’ve mentioned these games a few times, but I haven’t seen anything yet that is able to capture the feeling of the Quintet trilogy: SoulBlazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma. I would really love for an indie developer to take these games as inspiration to the point it basically becomes associated with the series.


Nepiki Gaming is a website dedicated to talking about all sorts of games I come across, be it through a review or another article. Therefore, this site is also run only by me. I am more than glad enough to have my own space where I can just write, but if you so desire, you can support both my site and my Twitch streams in multiple ways! Please scroll down to the bottom of the page or browse to the ”Contact and FAQ” page to find out more, including access to my community-driven Discord Server and my Patreon!

About author

Nepiki

A gamer and writer at heart who wants to combine his hobbies into one. I am 25 years old and I'm from the Netherlands. Having played many games over the years, I wanted to express my love for them, however obscure they may be!

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