In a world where so many games pick up on something popular and do their best to emulate it, it’s quite the surprise when a game shows up that breaks the mold a little. Aeon Must Die!, for instance, is an anime-styled rock-opera temperature-managing brawler. You don’t hear that one very often. It’d certainly be interesting if it did well and the whole world decided to make their own take on the idea, but for now, let’s take a peek at what we’ve got.
Here’s the good news: you’re not dead! Maybe that’s not really good news, though, as you’ve been forcibly merged with the galactic overlord Aeon. He’s about as happy with it as you are, which is not at all. Likewise, Aeon’s former army isn’t especially thrilled that he’s back either, since his generals have all betrayed him. It’s up to you and Aeon to discover the truth of what’s happened. If you’re lucky, you might even find a way to get him off your back.
Naturally, you’re going to discover the truth via combat. Lots and lots of combat. Aeon’s not much of a problem-solving kind of guy, after all, and he’s always solved problems with his fists, so why is this time going to be any different? Battles play out as one-on-one brawls where other enemies watch from the sidelines and sometimes intervene. It’s an honor thing, apparently, and it helps ensure that combat is manageable despite all the crazy pyrotechnics going on. When you aren’t fighting you’re interacting with Aeon and others, and the overlord himself is definitely the star of the show – he’s a bombastic, psychopathic nutcase who hams it up whenever possible.
Anyway, fighting. Aeon’s ready to deal with the issue with a selection of physical attacks and energy blasts. You’ll have to be careful, though, as your continued existence relies on your temperature – you and Aeon are a sort of merged sentient star or such, after all. Beating guys up will increase your Heat, while firing off explosions will decrease it, and enemy attacks tend to push you in one or the other direction.
At maximum or minimum Heat, Aeon becomes vulnerable and can be taken out by the next hit he receives. Balancing your attacks so you don’t hit either extreme is key, resulting in a bizarre back-and-forth where you have to use your whole arsenal to survive.
Dying costs you some of your Purpose and allows you to go on a revenge mission to get it back, but losing all of your Purpose is the end of you…or is it?
Between fights, you can take advantage of Aeon’s growing Respect for you to unlock new abilities. These are key to keeping a variety of options available and ensuring you keep your Heat in balance. You’ve also got a cyber-motorcycle that can be customized with upgrades. I wish I had a cyber-motorcycle, but I suppose games will have to suffice yet again.
If you’ve seen any screenshots or video, it won’t come as a surprise that Aeon Must Die! places a whole lot of importance on its presentation. It’s an absolutely gorgeous game, from character designs to animation, and it brings to mind something like anime producer Studio Trigger’s (Little Witch Academia) work. While it does look great, said animation might take a little work to get accustomed to from a gameplay perspective; Aeon’s movements are definitely balanced around looking good more than feeling good, so practice very much makes perfect here. Sound-wise, Aeon Must Die!’s music and voice acting are spot-on for what we’re doing here, which is goofy comic-book-style machismo.
It’s certainly a little weird by brawler standards, but Aeon Must Die! is a unique and great-looking experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else. There’s definitely something to be said for playing as a maniacal galactic overlord, after all. Moderate your expectations when it comes to the brawler gameplay and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you’ll have with an intergalactic despot.