Reviews: A.R.E.S. : Extinction Agenda
For those of you that haven’t heard of this game before (and a refresher for those of you that have heard of this game before) A.R.E.S. [herein called ARES because those periods are not friendly on my fingers) is an indie game developed by Extend Studio. The following review represents my feeling about the game after playing it for 4 hours. Take from that what you will.
The game features (as far as I’ve found) four different weapons that each has their own special use. The starter gun is a laser pistol called the Zytron Blaster which provides moderate damage to a single target. Second is the Laser SMG which provides light damage with a high rate of fire. Thirdly is a wide angle weapon that ignores solid objects called the Wave Emitter. Finally a nice energy rocket launcher called Photon launcher. I wager by the explosions that it is causing that it is not – in fact – launching photons.
But who knows seeing as that is not something I’ve ever done myself. Normally I’d be a bit disappointed with so few options for weaponry but I tend to give games more or less criticism based on the size of their teams and budgets. Overall the four weapons each provide a nice variety and they each satisfy different roles. I fell in love with the Wave Emitter once I had it and found myself using it through most of my play. They can all be upgraded 3 times and by the third level up they’ll be trashing just about anything.
The Wave Emitter majors in kicking ass and ignoring collision detection. It minors in taking names also…
You will also have access to two different types of grenades. The EMP Grenade Stuns and the HE Grenade manages to both kick ass and help you reach places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. These are nice mechanics that I really like. The controls using a gamepad are really great and I don’t think I can recommend playing this game any other way. Well most of the controls are really great. Your avatar handles a bit like a brick which I suppose makes sense given that he’s a big hunk of metal. Basically if your head so much as taps something you instantly rocket straight down to your death – 100% of momentum is lost.
Another feature is the hidden database entries found throughout each level. These provide both backstory or additional information and improve your stats in meaningful ways. This is nice and adds incentive for you to explore each level fully. At the end of the maps the score tells you how many of the fragments you’ve found in that level which helps prevent the process from being tedious. I still have nightmares about collecting pigeons in GTA IV and reaching 199 but simultaneously hitting the bottom of my checklist. I was so furious I have still not played that game again.
Good idea and well implemented.
You will require three different materials for all your upgrading needs. These are in fairly abundant supply as they drop from all mobs in game. The major problem is that you will need a lot of supplies to make health packs which will slow your progress through weapon upgrading. I can’t harp on this too much because this means that you’ll be more careful and try harder.
Sometimes this will infuriate you because mobs respawn the second you leave where they first spawned and in some cases you’ll enter a new map only to instantly be hit by something. Once you know what to expect the game becomes a breeze but needing people to be omniscient is bad game design and one of the short comings of ARES (along with the clunky jump mechanics).
They have a level select in the game which reminds me a bit of megaman. If you want to go back and get a better score in a previous level or use your new powers to get database entries that you missed it’s a matter of a few button clicks. In many ways ARES does what it is trying to do well. It’s a nice adventure game with good designs and respectable graphics. Only a few things keep it from being a better all around experience.
Screw this part with every fiber of my being. Screw it to hell and back again.
The bad jumping mechanics and handling really really punch you in the face during this elevator shaft sequence with the leviathan. Where you might die 30 times in Super Meat Boy in the course of 30 seconds the loading times after dying are usually incredibly painful. This is one of the biggest short comings of ARES. Shorter periods of time between dying and action would really take the sting out of the platforming as a bag of stones.
The music and sound effects are neither remarkable nor problematic. You will ultimately forget them but I much prefer that over obnoxious sound design choices. Similarly the story is very very generic and is almost a carbon copy of one of the most popular space RPGs in the last decade. In defense of the ARES writers that particular story is incredibly basic and difficult to not copy when dealing with these sort of themes but I don’t know if that’s a good defense.
I find myself going back and forth a lot with this game and really that’s how I felt about it the whole time I was playing. I kept being introduced to something I liked and then a short while later it punched me in the dick. It’s a noble first attempt (presuming this is their first game) and I’d certainly be proud to have this on my resume. And did I mention that the Wave Emitter is badass?
NGHHHHH SO GOOD!
I can’t promise that you will like this game. I also feel the price point is a bit steep given how topsy turvy the experience was for me. But I will admit that after I went back and ground threw mobs to level all my weapons that final boss fight felt good. Note that the video below does show the last boss but frankly it literally spoils nothing. I cut out any story stuff. Feel free to skip it if you wish. It’s a little lacking in terms of drama but I assure you before I ground out my gear this thing trashed me…probably because I suck.
It’s not a bad game though. It’s really on the precipice between average and good. I’d feel like I was being a bit disingenuous if I put it at good. A few small tweaks and it most certainly will be there though. If you see it on Steam Sale it can’t hurt to check it out and it will probably grow on you. I know the more I played it the more I liked it which is not the case for a lot of random games I get.