We've played through the Kickstarter success Afterimage, and we've given our verdict after several hours of adventure in the fantasy world of Engardin.

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It never ceases to amaze me how prominent Metroidvania as a genre has become in the gaming world, because whether you love or hate it, the concept is here to stay and shows no signs of slowing down. The number of new games in the genre is growing steadily, and Afterimage from Aurogon Shanghai is the latest in a series of Metroidvania clones to grace the world. The big question now is whether the game offers something new and unique or if it's just the same old tried and true formula hidden behind a fresh coat of paint.

In Afterimage you play as Renee, a young girl who has lost all her memories that can only be restored by exploring the magical world of Engardin. A place, of course, filled with all sorts of debris and natural obstacles, all of which must be overcome in order for Renee to ultimately piece together her fragmented background. The journey is long and the ruins of the Kingdom of Engardin are expansive to say the least, with plenty of distinctive regions and challenges, which is to be expected and part of the genre.


To help her on her journey, Renee has a simple sword, which of course can be replaced and upgraded to a wide range of other weapons if the player so desires. Each weapon also offers its own unique challenges and combos to master and there is a wide range of weapons from fast whips to slow, heavy broadswords. In addition, there is also the opportunity to equip secondary weapons that allow Renee to cast spells, which enhances the variety of the game's combat even more.

In fact, the mix and possibilities offered in Afterimage's equipment system are among the most comprehensive I've experienced in a Metroidvania game. That, along with its solid progression system of unlockable abilities, gives Afterimage an almost frightening amount of variety. But it's also a little too much of a good thing, and the breadth of choice can feel daunting, especially for those who aren't already well-versed in the genre and might even pick up Afterimage as their first Metroidvania.

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On a visual level, Afterimage is a bit of a mixed bag, which may seem like a strange statement considering how strikingly beautiful many of the stills from the game actually are. And sure, the game certainly has an occasionally very impressive and clear, consistent imagery with its almost pastel-colored, hand-drawn aesthetic. It's crisp, clean and clear, but also incredibly flat. It lacks depth and texture, but more importantly, I felt a strong disconnect between moving objects and the rest of the world.

Afterimage is sprawling. It's a game that wants so much but stumbles over its own ambitions. The impressive array of power-ups, abilities and weapons is filled with meaningless padding. The pacing of the narrative is questionable with a considerable amount locked behind exploration and text that the player must discover on their own in the world. In addition, many weapons and attacks suffer from questionable hitboxes that can create considerable frustration in the most critical of moments. Finally, the game's overall narrative leaves a lot to be desired and feels downright unfinished.

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For the hardcore fan, there's a lot to love about Aurogon Shanghai's Kickstarter success. Its massive world filled with secrets and upgrades, the expansive arsenal of equipment and abilities with which to give Renee a surprisingly personal touch, and a sometimes enchantingly beautiful world. In fact, Afterimage could very well be just the right game for anyone who is a veteran of the genre and yearns for a game that takes all the clichés and really runs with them. A Metroidvania with extra everything.

But it is also impossible to shake the feeling that the game at the time of writing feels directly unfinished, incomplete and unpolished. There is no finesse or sense of detail and the production has seemingly been guided by the mantra 'more is better'. Because yes, there really is more and a lot of everything, but at what cost? I would have liked to see Afterimage get at least six more months in the oven before being released to the world and my recommendation is to wait and see what the developers decide to do with the title. Because more work is clearly needed here to really do the game's potential justice and bring it to the finish line.

06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
Large and varied world with some strikingly beautiful designs.
Unpolished and unfinished, stumbling over its own ambitions
overall score
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REVIEW. Written by Marcus Persson

We've played through the Kickstarter success Afterimage, and we've given our verdict after several hours of adventure in the fantasy world of Engardin.

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