Yes another Team17 release this month, here’s an Ageless Switch review, available on the Nintendo eShop and also PC via Steam.
Ageless has been on my to-do list for a little while now, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve had the opportunity to play the game, having first dabbled with the demo available on Steam.
While the game was innovative, I’m a relative newcomer to platform-like games on the PC and would prefer to play them on a console. First impressions didn’t blow me away, but I was intrigued nevertheless.
Now that the game is available on the Switch, I shifted the attention to my go-to device, and this was much better suited to my style of play. Yes, I understand I can use a controller on the PC.
Ageless Switch Review
Feeling a little lost in the word, the protagonist Kiara sets out on an adventure of self-discovery, reaching a place called Pandora (not that Pandora).
Legend has it that the ancients who occupied these lands had a phenomenal power gifted to them, which is also obtainable for like-minded adventurers.
As we join Kiara on Pandora, he locates the Gate of Gifts and is granted a power that she can forever wield as her own, pending she can survive the challenges on offer.
Ageless, developed by One More Dream Studios, is a platform title through and through, but what makes it stand out from other titles is the ageing mechanic. Using either ZL or ZR, Kiara can fire a bow that can de-age or age plants and animals, allowing her to reach new areas through a literal platform to hop onto or as smashing through a seemingly indestructible wall.
While holding either of these buttons as well as the right analogue stick, she can aim at areas out of reach, setting up a path well in advance of reaching there, but be prepared to multi-task.
Life with the animals has varying stages of usefulness, meaning that Kiara can return the animal to the egg stage of its life, or age them so rapidly that they burst into a primordial soup. They regenerate, however.
Each time she pulls on her bow, time will slow down – fantastic for setting up a shot if danger is imminent, but also as a strategy when falling: she can shoot and jump at the same time, and in a lot of cases, you have to do that to clear an area.
Even in the early stages of Pandora, I struggled with the controls as Kiara would have to age a plant to stand over a chasm, switch to a dash jump (more on that is a second), wall jump to catch the attention of an enemy. This was immediately followed by shooting the same plant once more, while falling, to stop you from dying as well as the animal (needed to solve the puzzle).
While that sounds cool, and if you pull it off (heh), it looks incredibly cool too, in practice, it’s bloody hard.
The wall jumps themselves are quite effortless. They aren’t animated particularly well, but getting from A to B is relatively straightforward, though I would have liked the feature to have been toned down a bit as if I left a jump too late, I’d bounce back to the other side.
Being so quick with the controls is challenging, but doable, but pulling on the bow requires precision, and it’s not always accurate. More often than I would have liked, I would have to repeat a section, restarting at a checkpoint.
Thankfully, they’re in proximity of one another and other than the later boss fights; you don’t have to repeat too much of a section should you fail it. Best of all, there are no lives or continues to worry about.
Analyse, Execute, Repeat
Learning how to solve a puzzle is reasonable enough once you get the hang of the ageless feature. As well as being able to alter the age of living things, Kiara can use the skill on herself, promoting a super jump, or dash.
These can’t be performed willy-nilly, however, and she draws upon the power from something living. What that usually means is ageing a plant, absorbing it’s power, then before you fall to your doom, dash in the right direction to save yourself.
You can also collect relics throughout the game, but to locate them, you need to be in ageless mode and have to complete the section without dying.
A lot of these scenarios reminded me Katana Zero, one of my favourite titles on the Switch (available on other platforms of course). However, the focus with this game was timing and not so much multi-tasking.
As a result, I found myself on the receiving end of the ageing feature as Ageless was prematurely ageing me – not to the point of rage quitting, but not far off it. It’s a shame, as I was gradually warming to the presentation of the game – especially as you reach the later stages.
I’ve seen many titles that opt for this aesthetic, I’m now losing a little interest in the approach, much like the zombie genre. That ship sailed to Hades years ago.
A Timeless Title?
Kiara and the supporting characters don’t really convey and real character in their appearance or dialogue, so it was hard for me to connect with the lead or story in the game.
Slightly a bit too background than it should have been, the soundtrack was excellent and reminded me of a Joe Hisaishi piece, it’s calming score dampening the irritation I was experiencing.
Ageless isn’t the hardest platform title I’ve played, nor would I say it’s brutal. However, I think it eliminates a lot of casual players as the mechanics can be so tricky to perfect. That could be argued as the charm, but for me, I struggled to identify with the title, preferring to play Super Meat Boy, which I’d say Ageless emulates through the wall jumping and boss side-scrolling shenanigans.