If Pyre’s beautiful presentation and generally unique experiences are enough for you then consider picking it up.
Controls like a dream. No controller breaking to be found here.
Like a good book, the story will have you wondering why it's 2am when you thought it was 6pm.
This is the type of game you show your new TV off to your friends with. It looks that good.
There’s something to be said about great storytelling, and when a game gets it right it’s always a bonus. Certain genres lend themselves to storytelling better than others and while the puzzle adventure is one of those genres it requires a certain finesse to weave a story into it. Aporia: Beyond the Valley makes a point of letting you know that it does its best to not only tell you a great story, but do so without any dialogue or text. That claim caught my attention and so when the community showed interest in it as well I took the dive.
The first thing I noticed was just how great the game looked. Built in the Cryengine, Aporia is a graphically stunning game. There’s no doubt that it will put a strain on your system, but if you have the hardware, you’re going to be treated to some very impressive visuals indeed. It doesn’t waste those visuals either as Aporia has some of the best atmosphere in any game I’ve played in ages. I will note, however, that while it mostly ran without a hitch there was a specific area that struggled to load properly repeatedly, resulting in catastrophically low frame rates for short periods of time. It’s entirely possible this is fixable by tweaking some settings, but regardless it didn’t particularly ruin my experience. More surprising to me, was something I didn’t think I’d ever take note of in a puzzle adventure.
You see, the controls in Aporia are good enough that they stand out. While you’re simply using mostly conventional first-person shooter controls, everything just feels incredibly tight in a way I wish some popular first-person shooters *cough*PUBG*cough* would. It ultimately resulted in me joyously hopping around the world, getting to areas I probably wasn’t supposed to be in, but having fun with it anyway. Of course, Aporia isn’t a first-person shooter, so we should probably talk about the puzzles a bit.
Aporia presents you with a selection of puzzles that veterans of the genre would have run into many times before. None of the puzzles are particularly unique in any way and additionally aren’t particularly difficult. There are a couple of fun puzzles tucked away that aren’t required for you to complete the story, but in general they’re all pretty much standard fair. Truth be told, Aporia is more of an adventure puzzler than a puzzle adventure. That’s not really a huge problem, however, as the adventure part is particularly fantastic.
I was as skeptical as I was intrigued when I read Investigate North’s line about telling a story without dialogue or text. As it turns out, they did a remarkable job of it and you discover this very early on. Aporia delivers a lot of the most core story and character development via a series of projected, paper-like theatre you discover along your way. Everything else is told with carefully placed objects, bodies, etc. in far more effective ways than I’ve seen in other games that have attempted this style of storytelling. I was amazed at how much I could easily and accurately extract from what was presented to me throughout the world and was left far more satisfied than I was with the recently reviewed Pyre, as far as story and narrative delivery goes.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Aporia. While I sometimes wish I was challenged a bit more with the puzzles, I can appreciate that perhaps challenge wasn’t the main goal of the game but instead it was the story delivery. In that respect, not only is it done very well, the story that ultimately unfolds is a great one and may even catch you off guard more than a few times. Dripping in atmosphere, Aporia presents an experience I could recommend to just about anyone. If you’re more interested in being challenged, then perhaps you should look elsewhere. If you’re interested in a great story that’s told in a unique way with some light puzzling then you should definitely give Aporia: Beyond the Valley a shot.
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