AER - Memories of Old PC Review

AER - Memories of Old is a serene experience that boasts exceptionally fluid movement and pressureless exploration.

By Woozie, Posted 23 Oct 2017

If there’s something to remark about AER – Memories of Old, it’s how it lets you soar through its colorful, low poly world as soon as you’re done with its introductory sequence. While you are given vague directions as to where you need to go, nothing pressures you into heading to any particular spot straight away. Auk, a shape shifter that can freely transform into a bird at any time, must visit three temples as part of her pilgrimage, but she can bide her time exploring the islands that pop into view as you traverse the land.

AER - Memories of Old, Screenshot, PC, Review

Auk’s movement feels a bit floaty at first, both on the ground and while airborne, requiring a bit of getting used to. However, once you’re used to the controls, the smoothness of the movement helps the exploration aspect a lot. Despite the map being fairly small, soaring through AER’s world is exhilarating. The game also performs very well making sure that the fluid movement remains unhindered. Every small island that can be seen can also be landed upon. Some hold remnants of the past or scrolls that give bits of text talking about the world’s conception, mythology or events from its history. Others hold nothing aside from, maybe, a cute animal, a puddle of water or trees. The islands are organized in clusters of smaller ones with a larger landmass that usually contains a structure of sorts. As you approach them, they get revealed on your map making sure you don’t get lost, despite there being no further indication of which places you’ve visited and which you haven’t.

If outside Auk can shift between her human and bird form seamlessly, inside, she has to stick to the former. While caves are fairly straightforward, the three temples Auk must visit in order to complete her quest, are larger structures that manage to carry with them a sense of the primordial. Remnants of the past can also be found here, as can platforming sections and light puzzle sequences. These are neat little additions that give one something else to do aside from just wandering. Their solutions aren’t difficult to grasp and the locations’ design flows very well, making sure there’s never too much backtracking to be done. There’s a constant sense of going forward, of accomplishment as you move from one room to the next.

AER - Memories of Old, Screenshot, PC, Review

Auk can use the lantern she receives to both interact with certain objects and see remnants of the past in areas where white symbols can be found. Once light is shined upon the symbols, white silhouettes appear, with text often giving insights into the lives of these individuals and/or creatures. Through them, as well as the aforementioned scrolls, players can piece together what happened to AER’s world. These bits provide glimpses into how different events affected humans on a personal level while also discussing broader aspects like the link between humans and nature. The small amount of writing there is does a good job of painting a world that has its own mythology. This is incentive enough to double check every small island for extra lore snippets.

While you can go everywhere, the size of AER’s world works against its precept of free exploration. Almost every cluster of islands has something to do with Auk’s main quest, ending up in a situation where you can go anywhere, but you also “have” to go there in order to progress. Thus, despite the initial impression of freedom, there are times when it doesn’t quite feel that you’re exploring a “world” per se. Instead, it felt closer to being given a chunk of a greater whole which, at times, was a little too empty. This emptiness is mostly justified by in-game lore and I’ll be the first to take a smaller, handcrafted world over infinite, procedurally generated expanses. In AER’s case, however, more could have been done. Once you’ve checked an area out, there’s little reason to go back to it. This makes it so that, after you’ve explored the entire world, there isn’t enough to fuel the need to go through it again as you’ll bump into places you’ve visited not so long ago.

AER - Memories of Old, Screenshot, PC, Review

The story in AER – Memories of Old is told through text. It’s not particularly deep and only transmitted through brief encounters with NPCs. It does, also, conclude far too brusquely, without ever showing even a semblance of the result the player’s actions had. The game looks pretty, for the most part, but its visuals can be hit or miss. The low poly style it uses makes for a stark contrast between areas that look quite beautiful and others that look bland. Especially inside, the proper use of lighting makes for some really great sights and subtle mood shifts that emphasize the ancient nature of the locations. Outside, islands are patches of green against a shifting backdrop which end up looking a little too similar, even as some might come with buildings or bodies of water. This goes downhill once you reach the two snowy areas in the north which, by all means, look extremely bland.

AER – Memories of Old does something interesting with its sound design in adding a dynamic element to the music when you change forms. When walking outside, strings play on a loop. Switch over to flight and rhythm kicks in, quickly joined by a banjo, going hand in hand with the flying experience that the game does so well. The sense of speed is complemented by the music. On the flipside, it really felt like the same track was playing over and over again to the point where reaching the snow area in the north, with its clear, crystalline piano layered on top of strings, was a relief.

AER - Memories of Old, Screenshot, PC, Review

The five hours I’ve spent exploring AER - Memories of Old’s world passed by without me really noticing. Its highest point is clearly in the seamless transition between human and bird form and the fluidity of the movement. There are missteps, as well, in some repeating, unimpressive assets and the handling of its story. The small size of the world does end up taking away from the feeling of freedom the game tries to give the player as, while you can go anywhere you want, there are only so many places you can actually go. It would have undoubtedly benefited from a larger world, both in terms of locations and lore, as what’s there does fuel one’s desire to find out more. With that in mind, AER - Memories of Old does what it set out to do. Its world does feed one’s curiosity, to an extent, it flows well, putting no obstacles in the player’s way, and makes for a serene experience fans of exploration titles should have on their radar.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Developer(s): Forgotten Key
Genres: Adventure, Exploration
Themes: Indie
Release Date: 2017-25-10

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