Sticking To The Basics
HIGH Beautiful pixel art and worthwhile exploration.
LOW The plotholes.
WTF The Ancient Catacombs.
Alwa’s Legacy is an action adventure where players explore the land of Alwa and try to save it from a shadowy evil.
Players control Zoe, a heroine sent from another world. She travels the 2D open world of Alwa searching for an evil threatening the land while hunting down magic crystals and special artifacts that help her progress — at its core, Alwa’s Legacy plays like a metroidvania in the sense that Zoe will gain new abilities that will allow her to reach new dungeons, secrets and additional powers. There are many regions of Alwa to explore, all with varying types of enemies trying to stop Zoe.
Alwa’s is also a bit like a Zelda in that each dungeon features a unique theme that guides players in solving puzzles. One has players raising and lowering water levels, while another focuses on switching between the past and present to get past things like overgrown roots or jammed doors. Each dungeon ends with a boss fight granting a special skill used to open new parts of the world for exploration.
Zoe’s key abilities can be upgraded to change how combat plays out. From the start, Zoe is able to swing her staff to attack at close range. Once she discovers some of Alwa’s secrets, she becomes more deadly. For example, the first ability Zoe obtains lets to set down a block. This is most useful for exploration and for weighing down pressure switches, this block can be upgraded to have spikes that damage enemies that hit it, or it can be flung at enemies from afar.
While I appreciate the freedom that Alwa’s Legacy provides in exploration and in and customizing abilities to suit my tastes, it has issues both in narrative and gameplay.
In terms of the script, Zoe is told early on that she needs to talk with someone in town who knows who she is and what her purpose is, and on multiple occasions Zoe comments on not remembering Alwa but still having some type of deja vu. Even after rolling credits, these things are never fully explained, but throughout the adventure Zoe goes along with everything without questioning it much — it feels like a large plothole that never gets filled.
Mechanically, Legacy feels too safe and doesn’t tread any new ground compared to others in this genre. Every spell and ability Zoe gets feels analogous to something from another title — it’s all overly familiar. There’s nothing wrong with taking a classic style and putting a new skin on it, but doing it so conservatively also means Alwa’s Legacy doesn’t shine on it’s own and can’t stand out from the competition.
In spite of its issues and a lack of ambition, Alwa’s Legacy is a solid, predictable experience. The platforming feels precise, exploring is enjoyable and it feels rewarding when using skills that can help navigate dungeons and defeat a deadly boss. For fans of metroidvanias or Zelda, it’s worth taking a look — just don’t expect the unexpected.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Elden Pixels. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game is not rated by the ESRB. The game shows a character hitting monsters with bolts of energy or a magical staff where they turn into poofs of smoke. There is no blood or gore, and no suggestive themes. Approved for all ages!
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Most information is text-based, but the text is not resizable. There are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This one is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Controls are fully remappable.
While Sonic and Street Fighter were great places to start, his first love was Final Fantasy X when his dad bought a PS2. Ever since, that love for gaming has evolved -- there are a number of game worlds out there, and he intends to explore them all. RPG to horror, platformers to casual and everything in between -- if it’s available, he’ll play it.
While his time is short between writing reviews, tabletop gaming, and attempting to start a cheesecake business, he has caught all 806 pokemon and can speedrun Star Fox 64 in less than 40 minutes. He’s always looking for new things to try and new challenges to conquer. You can find him on Twitter -- @eugene_sax.