Dr. David's Indie Spotlight: Aaru's Awakening is a gorgeous platformer from Lumenox
Even after many years of seeing countless developers, mainstream and indie, offer up their take on hand-drawn graphics, I just can't seem to get tired of the visual direction. Maybe it's because, for the most part, this particular graphical choice looks remarkably different depending on the studio and the game. Such is the case with Aaru's Awakening from Lumenox Games. Simply put, this game is outright gorgeous to look at, and if the screenshots and “Domain of Day” trailer are any indication, this title has the potential to be one of the very best-looking hand-drawn titles around.
The art of Aaru's Awakening can't really be relegated to any single category. The game has a lovely sketch-like quality, with its line work boasting a nice fine tip pen look. There are many instances where studios show off their concept art for a game, and it looks nothing like the end product, yet it's still a great sight to behold. Aaru's Awakening reminds me a bit of what really awesome concept art looks like, with the exception being that these are the in-game visuals in all of their handmade glory.
As if the actual drawings weren't already pretty enough, the color that's used on every environment, background, and landmark is absolutely stunning. Aaru's Awakening has this wonderful storybook look and feel to it that's vaguely reminiscent of what you'd see in a lovingly produced children's book or animated film of the '70s. The artistry is surreal while being atmospheric, and it creates a setting for the game that makes you want to jump right into it.
Of course, all of these amazing graphics aren't just appearing out of nowhere. The team at the Iceland-based Lumenox studio consists of eight devs. It's a small team, no doubt, but if Aaru's Awakening is indicative of anything, it's that you don't need a massive staff to create something that looks really special. And special it is, because this game has been on quite the journey since it was first conceived.
Funnily enough, Aaru's Awakening started off as a school project. After scoring the highest grade in the class for the three programmers and artists involved, the game would go on to win a nice cash prize when it was entered in a competition. It only made sense for these three individuals to assemble a slightly larger crew and officially become Lumenox, the studio that would take a former school project and turn it into a full game. With a story like that, it's hard not to care about the people at Lumenox and their darling endeavor.
And so the climb to get on Steam has begun for this small developer. As is the case for most up-and-coming devs, this is no easy task, and while Steam Greenlight has already helped a number of great games make it onto the service's storefront proper, it's still a massive undertaking. Aaru's Awakening was added to the Greenlight queue back in August, and it goes without saying that if you dig artistically powerful titles, you should totally give this game your attention and your vote.
It's not all about the art, though (despite the fact that the graphics are such a huge part of the experience and worthy of a great deal of praise). Aaru's Awakening features interesting 2D platforming that allows you to teleport short distances. This helps you reach new areas, pass obstacles, get through cracks, and so on. You can even defeat enemies by teleporting into them, making this technique your main weapon against the game's baddies.
Currently, Lumenox is hoping to release Aaru's Awakening sometime in 2014, ideally earlier in the year. The studio has stated that while currently only the PC version is confirmed, it's reached out to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. This is definitely the kind of game I'd love to witness on my big screen TV, so here's hoping the major console manufacturers take this effort into great consideration.
Aaru's Awakening has a lot of potential to be a vastly impressive platformer. Already its artwork is worthy of copious amounts of praise and adulation. We'll have to wait and see how the full product turns out, but if the gameplay is nearly as good as its graphics, Aaru's Awakening will undoubtedly be something special worthy of being held in high regard. If you're a fan of platformers and stylish graphics, keep a lookout for this game, and give it your vote on Greenlight. It's certainly worthy of that much.
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