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Alwa’s Legacy Review

This is how to make a thoroughly enjoyable, modern 16-bit platform game, inspired by classics from 30 years ago

The first rule of Alwa’s Legacy is you don’t talk about Alwa’s Legacy. The second rule of Alwa’s Legacy is to embrace the 16-bit retro experience. For game historians, you’ll get to relive the era, for Millenials, welcome to the world of 2D platforming.

But rules are meant to be broken, so we’re going to ignore the first one otherwise what’s the point of the review? 

Alwa’s Legacy is a 2D platform follow-up to the 8-bit-inspired Alwa’s Awakening – a game I’ve haven’t played yet, but after playing this, made a point to add to my wishlist this morning. Embark as Zoe, the human, as she attempts to save Alwa and return things back to where they should be. She’s OCD.

Alwa’s Legacy Review – Nintendo Switch

The perfect start to reviewing a game is not having too many expectations: go the fanboy route and moan that the game isn’t to your liking and set up a petition like a disgruntled GOT fan or have little expectation and not give the game a chance. I was in the middle, and the more I played Alwa’s Legacy, the more vivid my proposed fictitious tattoo of Zoe became. I love this.

You don’t need to play the first one to understand what’s going on as it’s a standalone adventure. In summary, Zoe awakens on Alwa without any real memory of it. Within moments, she’s given her objective: collect some mysterious artefacts, return an overdue book and rid the land of nasties. No pressure then. 

Alwa's Legacy - Knight
Knight, Dawn… Day? Source: PR

She starts with her magic wand and the moment you lose it, realise how pivotal it is in your success, as well as the spells that you learn through progression. The early parts of the game are tweaked to be accessible for gamers of all levels. As the difficulty increases, you’ve had plenty of exposure to the mechanics and how to exploit them, if you can, to be pretty confident in adding this to your completion list. Checkpoints are generous, and the challenges entirely fair. 

Elden Pixels are in league with the Devil or have the master plan on how to make a superb platform/puzzler. There’s a perfect balance in the design as there’s no hand-holding, but equally, if you get a little lost on what to do, the NPCs and level structure always give you a gentle prod in the right direction. You never feel frustrated, and it’s in such a subtle manner that you often think that you’ve worked everything out yourself. There is an in-game map, but I seldom used it – it never gets overly confusing, and despite areas looking very different from one another, you get your bearings.

Forever Blowing Bubbles

From the platforming viewpoint, you have to time your jumps accordingly, make good use of the environment and your spells. The first spell creates a block works for pressure switches, a way to elevate yourself for riskier jumps and even blocks incoming attacks. However, it was the Bubble Bobble bubble spell that was my favourite. Zoe produces a temporary bubble that raises, ideally with you on it, to reach higher platforms for loot or a switch to unlock a new area. Being able to dash across spikes was also a highlight, even though it was in short bursts.

The puzzle elements were mostly intuitive and fun too – especially upon solving. There was never a moment of conceding to a walkthrough (it’s never an option for review codes as nobody else has broadcast it yet). Alwa’s Legacy challenges you to the point where you have to think. Still, you needn’t put down the beer to have to work out an overly complicated switch system or look through various notebooks and graffiti to open a combination lock.

Alwa's Legacy - Beard
A beard monster. Source: PR

Elden Pixels clearly have an understanding of classic games and level design and moulded that knowledge and skill into a game that will appeal to many. The further I got, the more vocal I was. Declarations of “I love this game” and “this is so good” understandably got on the nerves of the rest of the household as it was so frequent. 

I’d even go on record as saying this is one of the best platform games out there. The only criticism would be the length of the game as it’s relatively short. There aren’t any frustrating elements, no monotony of backtracking – even the slightly cliched soundtrack is excellent. Whether you’re a fan of Alwa’s Legacy depends on how you feel about platform games in general. Especially 2D 16 bit-games. I think I’m a little past the genre now, but this experience has revitalised it, and I find it hard to fault other than the length. Size is everything, apparently.

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