I’m a pretty big fan of speed-based games. It makes sense since I was a Genesis kid, with classic Sonic being among my favorites. Aeon Drive works to be a speed-based platformer, but unfortunate issues make it a bit of a slog.
Aeon Drive has 100 levels of speed-based platforming divided into ten worlds. Each one has you trying to speed your way to the end in under 30 seconds; unless you turn the timer off. There are collectibles scattered throughout each level, collecting all of which will get you a secret ending (more on these later). While there is a decent amount of content, the level design is uninspired. They feel slapped together like a substandard Mario Maker level. They’re bland, meeting just the minimum of level design; it’s a case of quantity over quality.
Mechanically, your character has some good things going for them. You have a slide, infinite wall jumps, a slash attack, and the main gimmick: a teleportation dagger. You press ‘A’ to throw it into a wall, then press again to teleport to its location. It’s a good idea, but I found it to have a bit of delay in functioning, which made for some awkward interruptions in the speed-based gameplay. Compounding this is your slow run speed.
With sluggish teleportation, dagger, and run speed, as well as the sloppy level design, I found the game to get boring rather quickly. Beating levels became more and more of a chore as the level design wore on me. But, I still can’t say the experience was anything worse than just mediocre. I enjoyed going back and finding all the collectibles more than my initial playthrough, but that still suffered from the same main problems. And the collectibles themselves were a mixed bag (one is a statue of a man squatting to use the bathroom).
Graphically Aeon Drive looks fine (besides that squatting guy). The pixel art is well-drawn, and the animations look good. I will say that there were numerous times that I found enemies blended in with the background, leading to some deaths. There are some decent tunes presented as well; nothing I’d listen to outside of the game, but enough to get me bopping a bit.
The only thing I hated about Aeon Drive was the ending. I won’t spoil what happens, but it was one of the worst I’ve seen in a while, and it would have honestly been better if it just ended with a ‘congratulations’ text screen. You can unlock a secret ending that attempts to remedy the standard one, but it wasn’t much better. The endings gave the impression that whoever wrote them thought they’d seem really cool, but instead, they just fell flat on their face.
Overall, Aeon Drive had some promise but ended up being a mediocre experience. Nearly everything about the game was ‘meh’ except for the lousy endings and some pretty good tunes. If you’re a fan of speed-based platformers, you may enjoy gunning for times on the leaderboards, but otherwise, there isn’t much worth looking at here.
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