Aragami Carries Tenchu's Torch Forward

Aragami Carries Tenchu's Torch Forward

From Software spends all its time on Souls games, so an indie steps up to bring that stealth action.

E3 is over, but you can catch all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

One of the more enjoyable aspects of a show like E3 is the chance to wander around on the showfloor and find something new. As I meandered my way through the PlayStation booth, avoiding massive lines for Days Gone, God of War, or PlayStation VR, I found my small oasis of indies. Here I found Aragami.

Aragami is a stealth game in which you play an undead assassin with amazing fashion sense, brought back to life by a young woman named Yamiko. She's trapped in Kyuryu, the fortress controlled by the light-powered Kaiho. Since she brought yoou back to life, you owe her and she wants to be freed.

It's a stealth game in the classic sense: if you're seen, you're probably going to die. Guards are stronger than you are and they have no qualms about sounding the alarm. Your character is quite slow, even at his fastest movement speed. Aragami is a game that requires you to die and repeat, to poke at defenses and figure out a way through. I'm sure someone got through their E3 demo without dying, but I'm not that guy.

The choice of making the player largely powerless outside of stealth was a deliberate one by the developer.

"We feel that in the last few years, 'stealth' in games has been diluted and doesn't pose a real challenge; the tension of being detected by the enemy is gone," said LinceWorks studio director David Leon on the PlayStation blog. "We want to fix that in Aragami, where you are outmatched, outnumbered, and alone. You have no guns, amazing fencing skills or regenerating health. Your main weapons are your cunning, your sword, and darkness."

In Aragami, the shadows are your friend. Everything you do is from the safety of the shadows. Your bright red cloak turns black as an indicator of guards' ability to see you. You can teleport to nearby shadows. You can blind foes or create clones to distract them. At higher levels, you'll actually be able to create areas of darkness to hide in, or temporarily turn invisible. The shadows can even be used to consume the bodies of your fallen enemies.

Aragami developer Lince Works has crafted the game for two types of players: Demons and Ghosts. Demons aren't about open combat, but they're very much the type that stealth kills every person in an area before moving on. Ghosts are all about getting through areas without being detected at all. I'm 100 percent a Demon; what's the use in all these cool killing abilities if you don't use them?

For me, Aragami is another example of a theme I saw a few times at E3 2016 this year. There are many classic, excellent games and genres that have lain dormant because developers or publishers are either too busy or unwilling to take risks on smaller projects.

The last Tenchu game From Software released was Tenchu: Stealth Assassins for the Wii and PlayStation Portable in 2009. Since then, the series hasn't gotten a fair shake from the developer, who is understandably focused on more Souls titles. As a Tenchu fan, I'm glad to see another developer step into the breach and offer something like that classic experience, even if Aragami diverges from Tenchu in the details.

Aragami is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC this Fall.

E3 is over, but you can catch all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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