The excellent Aragami: Nightfall, a worthy story DLC to the even more excellent stealth game Aragami by LinceWorks already indicated where the Spanish indie studio was going with its newly minted franchise. Aragami 2 – out since September 17th 2021 – delivered on what I expected, both the good and the bad.
In my previous post leading up to the release of Aragami 2 I had a few concerns when it came down to multiplayer. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to try that out and played the entire story in single player mode. What I can say is that the studio really needn’t have bothered with implementing a combat system. It is bad. Very bad. Since I prefer to play it stealthy anyway, that’s fine with me.
Beware of SPOILERS for Aragami and Aragami 2.
Aragami 2 Features An Origin Story
The game is set in an alternate feudal Japan and it takes place 100 years after the first Aragami-title. Short recap: In the first game, the ninja-like Aragami was a vengeful spirit, a soul reincarnate, without recollection of its memories. Its mission was freeing a desperate young woman trapped by her enemies. The shadows were its allies, reinvigoring its strength and gifting it with a set of awesome shadow-based powers. Being out in the light – daylight or moonlight – weakened the Aragami, and fire was its mortal enemy. Now, though, the aragami have seemingly evolved. Light does not diminish their power anymore. They are still most fearsome when striking from the shadows. And they are still being used by others to do their bidding.
Our hero is a newly freed aragami, previously bound by the mighty emprire of Akatsushi. which is led by emperor Akai. He, though, also faces opposition. The aragami, namely the Kotsuburo clan, protect their refuge, Kakurega Village, which is located in Rashomon Valley. They all wear masks since the so-called Soul Ague – a debiliating sickness – has blurred their faces and the masks help them express themselves. Our hero will be able to collect quite a few of them, though I always stick with the classic fox face.
His task is to uncover the secrets surrounding the aragami’s origins, as well as keeping the village safe. He takes orders from Katashi, leader of the village and the resident aragami, who is a shrewd strategist.
Stealth Is Surprisingly Easy, Yet Satisfying
Apart from stealing documents and kidnapping people to help Katashi uncover the origins of the aragami and hopefully find a cure for the Soul Ague, our hero will be spending a lot of time sabotaging the enemy and assassinating select targets. I found the missions to be quite easy, actually. That is thanks to both an incredibly stupid AI as well as much more spacious maps than those featured in the previous games.
I remember that getting an S-rating (the stealthiest rating) in the first Aragami game was a struggle for me. I could usually only achieve those once I had mastered the maps. This time, I managed S-ratings easily, even on the first time trying a new location.
You can play three different styles:
Spirit (stealthy and non-lethal)
Ghost (stealthy and lethal)
Demon (lethal and not really stealthy, I guess)
I finished my first playthrough as Spirit and am trying as Ghost on my second one.
As with most stealth games you need to be either patient, decisive or both. Observe the enemy and swiftly take your chance, once it presents itself. As mentioned, the AI is really dumb, but you can still make the missions a challeng by really never being spotted or even alerting the guards. Truth be told, the game is pretty lenient when it comes to that.
Shadow Powers Come In Handy
The Skill Tree is more ample than in the previous titles, but, to be honest, you could possibly finish the game while relying on stealth only. Playing as Spirit, I mostly used the improved Dash, Dark Flame, Mesmerize and Shadow Pull.
Dash: Once improved, once you come out of the Dash you will be still invisible, which comes in handy when sneaking about the more crowded locations, namely the castles.
Dark Flame: This power allows you to make a light source explode that will daze enemies and, once upgraded, leaves them unconscious. The best thing about it is the concealing smoke that will emanate from the light source.
Mesmerize: The game features a pretty stubborn class of enemy that will stoically stay on their post and observe crucial entry points. Using Mesmerize will allow you to circumvent those more easily.
Shadow Pull: Using Shadow Pull you will be able to drag enemies towards you and knock them out. This is especially useful when playing as a Spirit.
Of course, my all-time-favorite power is also back, the Shadow Kill, whch has you summon a shadow dragon that swallows your victim whole.
In past games, you were able to create shadows yourself, which was a clever way of sneaking up to a victim or opening new paths. Sadly, that power is no longer needed. But the powers mentioned above are also pretty useful.
The enemies you encounter are of varying difficulty and differ depending on which faction you are facing. While one features necromancers that control and can revive unconscious enemies, the other will pit bound aragami against you in the later stages of the game. So be aware of that.
Grunts: The easiest and dumbest class.
Sentinels: They remain in one place and observe crucial entry points, so best take them out before trying to infiltrate.
Sorcerers: They juggle fire balls and are more observant than the other two classes. They will also hurl those fire balls at you and flush you out of stealth. They usually have the high ground, so you’d be wise to take them out, also.
Necromancers: Necromancers control a number of warriors and they will know when you kill one of them. They will not react as much when you just knock them unconscious. They also have a sixth sense when you try sneaking up to them. So best take them out as well.
Aragami: In the later missions of the game you will be facing bound aragami. They use Dash and are invisible to the eye. Use Shadow Vision to observe and anticipate their movements. If they spot you they will mercilessly hunt you down. The good thing? You can sneak up to them and neutralize them.
There is one tip I have for you: When falling from a greater height, you will be incapacitated for a short period of time. If you land too closely to an enemy, they will come investigate and will most likely spot you while you are still vulnerable. So, best avoid that.
As mentioned, Aragami 2 delivered on my expectations. It still is a stealth game at heart and I appreciate that very much. It was my great pleasure breezing though the missions and I could pat myself on the back for a job well done most of the time.
While at first the missions seem repetitive, the difficulty does progress. You will also have missions where you have no choice but to play it stealthy, since discovery will end the mission instantly. One of those missions is set in Emperor Akai’s castle, which is one of the most beautiful and most challenging maps of the game. It also reminded me of Ghost Of Tsushima‘s Heart of The Jito-mission.
Well. I enjoy stealth games very much. And Aragami 2 does ramp up the difficulty nicely, right up to the final battle. Which is epic, by the way.
Yes, the AI is incredibly stupid and there are glitches that can be annoying – just try jumping over a fence while carrying a body – but to me, that does not matter as much as the experience.
Aragami’s unique graphic style, the musical score and the always beautiful and detailled locations are part of that. So I am looking forward to continuing my second playthrough and to switching to the very promising detective game Sherlock Holmes Chapter One by Frogwares, which drops in November.
Until then, keep on playing!