Aaero – Fly to the Beat – Review

The music genre of video games is still an area ripe with new, untapped ideas in how to properly create a thrilling gaming experience, and an enjoyable music experience into one cohesive title. There have been games that have explored this idea, such as Klang, Retro/Grade, the upcoming RPG Metronomicon. However, they are few and far between.

There is a recurring theme with games such as these, and that is that each one interprets music differently, and uses that interpretation to great effect. Aaero, from Mad Fellows studio, take the music genre to alien planets deep in space and uses the power of EDM to explore these worlds and fight enemies. The result is an engaging and inventive game, that is sure to excite those that embraces its beats.

Aaero has no story or narrative, as the game simply invites players to enjoy the sights and the sounds of the game. Across 15 levels,  players pilot a small spacecraft and explore various landscapes across alien worlds. These worlds are not peaceful, as there are a variety of robotic enemies, hoping to cancel your visit. Players will navigate caves, fly through destroyed landscapes, explore secrets, and fight massive bosses. As each level follows the beat of the music, the levels take place on a linear path. However, Aaero changes the expectations of music-based games by making the gameplay flow with the music.

Other games usually involve players hitting buttons at the right time, but Aaero writes the level and gameplay with the music. This is used with the “ribbon.” As player navigates through tunnels, a white ribbon appears. Using the left analog stick, players must line their ship up with the ribbon and follow it. This ribbon is synchronized with the music, particularly the bass. If players hit the ribbon directly, their score will explode into the high numbers. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, as players will need to fight enemies and dodge obstacles throughout the level as well. However, if players stay close enough to the ribbon, they can acquire points. It’s only when players become entirely detached to the ribbon that they lose points.

Through each level, players will also have to fight robotic enemies and dodge sudden obstacles. Using the right analog sticks, players can target enemies, then use the R2 button to fire laser shots at the bad guys. The enemies will fire their own projectiles as well. If players are quick, they can lock and destroy these projectiles. However, should they miss, their ship is destroyed, as the game adopts the one hit death mechanic. Players can be destroyed three times before receiving a game over and beginning the level from the start.

Playing Aaero looks and feels spectacular. Utilizing its dubstep and EDM soundtrack, the game takes on an entirely different experience compared to others. It’s a refreshing take on the music genre, which has relied on timed- button-mashing for the most part. Seeing the path to which your ship goes on, along with the world that players navigate truly feels like the music is taking players on a journey rather than a puzzle. Feeling the bass drop during the ribbon segments and hearing how they manipulate the music is quite engaging as well. Visually, the game is stunning, using the “edged” visual style, seen in games like Super Senso, along with vibrant colors and designs.

The game’s soundtrack featured licensed artists, including Flux Pavilion and Noisa. Hearing, and playing, to the sounds of ” I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion was an incredible moment for me in particular, as I had heard that song before and frequently use it on my gym playlist when working out. Noisa’s tracks were also neat, as Noisa helped compose the music for DMC: Devil May Cry, which was developed by Ninja Theory and Capcom in 2013. The rest of the tracks were very good as well, as each level seemed to be tailored to that particular track. This is most notable with the game’s boss fights.

Aaero has three boss fights. While I wish there could have been more, each boss fight is quite thrilling and will keep players playing in order to maximize and achieve victory. In these levels, Aaero gets more creative, with shifting camera angles and different phases of the boss. In particular, there is a sandworm that players need to destroy. Players can shoot the outside of the worm but need to also fly inside the worm, to continue the music along the ribbon line. It wasn’t easy as the level was quite a challenge. However, after several tries, I finally defeated the foul beast.

My only complaint with Aaero is that the game could be longer, with more boss fights and music selection. I would like to see levels design after other artists, such as Skrillex, Seven Lions, Lindsey Sterling, Daft Punk and other artists who use computerized manipulation in their music. However, the game on its own is a worthy experience, as multiple difficulties, and discovering secrets will keep players engaged.

Aaero is an amazing, immersive, and downright fun music experience. I simply haven’t played a game liked it and been left astounded and happy. From its incredible visual and audio presentation, to its easy-to-learn, yet hard to master controls, Aaero is an energetic experience.

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