I didn’t play the first Aragami. I meant to, but I didn’t get around to it. Therefore, I’m not going to be able to directly compare the sequel to its predecessor. What I will be comparing it to is every other stealth game I’ve played. Aragami 2 isn’t what I would call a bad game, but it’s certainly not what I’d call a good one either. The mobility options are nice and the game can make you feel like a ninja. But, the padded, dull missions combined with the generic maps, unreliable mechanics, and astoundingly ancient-feeling enemy AI make this more of an exercise in tedium than anything else.
You “create” your character at the start of the game. I put that in quotes because all you appear to be able to do is choose your name. Despite all the promises of customization, you can only switch out head, chest, leg, and sword pieces to differentiate yourself alongside dying said pieces. You play as an Aragami, a soulless being that is neither human nor dead. The Aragami are holed up in Rashamon Valley, trying to stay out of a conflict between the forces of Nobu and Akai.
The story mostly concerns you helping the other Aragami in your village find out how to get their souls, and all of humanity, back. The plot is frankly boring and there often doesn’t feel as if there’s enough context to adequately follow it. There are several characters, but they’re not developed much at all, which sadly doesn’t stop Aragami 2 from pretending otherwise. The story moves at a glacial pace before picking up in the last few hours. The big bad doesn’t show up until near the end and we see them a grand total of two times. There is a fair amount of narrative, though, as uninteresting as it may be.
Spread so thin
Aragami 2 has 51 story missions spread out over a roughly 15-hour campaign. You can replay them as many times as you like, but playing new missions already feels just like playing the ones you’ve already unlocked, so this isn’t too tempting. You can play the game with up to two other players, but it’s completely beatable solo. Not only that, it’s also very easy by your lonesome. The game is divided into 9 chapters. You do a mission or three, talk to a character at your home base, and then unlock the next missions. The game has eleven maps, so you cover a decent bit of ground along the way.
Once you select a mission from the game’s map, you either go through the portal or press a button to start it right away. You’re dropped in at a portal and have to complete a set of objectives. These are either to go and steal a thing, kill an enemy, break a thing, or kidnap a person. And that’s every mission. There are a few story missions out of the 51, but the others all feel like lazy rehashes of each other that might as well be randomly generated.
The long and short of it is that you go into a map that you’ve been to a bunch of times before and then do a thing that you’ve done a bunch of times before. Sometimes it’s more egregious than others. As the game goes on, missions have more objectives, so you may have to steal several things and kill several enemies. Once you’ve played a few missions in Aragami 2, you’ve played them all. This is purely an instance of quantity over quality. The few story missions aren’t much better either, as they just have you go to a waypoint for a cutscene and then head back. There’s technically a final boss, but it’s not actually a boss battle. He summons waves of enemies, hides himself, and you have to find and stab him three times. Super easy.
My weakness is strong
Once you complete each mission in Aragami 2, you then have to head back through the portal. You get two lives, so if you die once, you can try again. Your Aragami is delicate as hell, though, and you can only take a few hits before dying. It’s a stealth game, I know, but it felt weird to me. You can fight enemies, but you’re supposed to stealth attack or sneak by them. Not that you’ll want to fight them, though, as the combat is quite poor.
Aragami 2 likes to lock you onto the first enemy that attacks you. If you screw up and get attacked by multiple enemies, it can be hard to maneuver due to the game removing that initial lock-on choice. Also, if you just want to bail, you’re going to need to disable the lock-on first. It’s clunky, and cumbersome. Combat is clearly inspired by Sekiro and expects you to carefully manage your stamina while depleting your enemy’s. It feels sloppy and the camera shakes way too much, which can make it harder than need be to hit anything. Your enemies are also obnoxiously good at dodging your strikes. It’s some of the worst, most sporadic combat I think I’ve seen in some time.
As far as the stealth goes, just imagine any ninja stealth game and you already know exactly what Aragami 2 is aiming for. You can either assassinate foes that don’t know you’re there, or you can knock them out. You can also hide bodies. Enemies will sort of search for you if they find a dead body, but they mostly just look around confusedly for a few seconds before resuming their patrols. The enemy AI is horribly dated and would fit in perfectly in a game from 2003. Metal Gear Solid 3 came out in 2004 and completely outclasses it.
You are really dumb, for real
The enemy AI does one of three things without your involvement. It patrols in a square, shuffles back and forth in two lines, or stands perfectly still without moving. Most enemies have very limited awareness unless they’re spotting bodies. To keep the game from being too easy, Aragami 2 compensates for this by typically jamming 60-70 of them in each level. The enemies that glue themselves to one spot are especially insipid. You can’t even distract them with abilities, as they’ll just loudly state “I can’t leave my post” to no one in particular.
Speaking of abilities, you gain experience from beating each mission, plus extra based on your rank. It’s pretty hard to get anything less than an A, though. You level up and get points to buy abilities, most of which are fairly useful. There are passives, three that let you deal with foes from a distance, and most of them work. Some barely work, though. One ability summons a shadow that kills another nearby enemy when you pull off an assassination. Or, it’s supposed to. I killed hundreds of enemies with this active and it worked twice. Either I’m misunderstanding how to activate it, or it was programmed incorrectly.
Speaking of programmed incorrectly, some of the game mechanics often don’t work as they’re supposed to in Aragami 2. The majority of the times I got spotted while playing the game were either because my Aragami just ineptly slashed at a foe instead of assassinating them, or because the game decided that I shouldn’t be crouching anymore while I’m in the process of sneaking. Both of these happened to me regularly. The controls can also be quite rigid, and often don’t feel as smooth as you’d expect. Granted, when the game works, cutting through a swath of foes can be kind of satisfying, but only because this is to stealth games what Dynasty Warriors is to action games. I also need to mention how inconsistently the AI spots you. Sometimes they’ll see you and it won’t count. Other times they won’t quite see you and it will count. Sometimes they’ll see and immediately forget about you if you move quickly enough. Enemy reactions are just as unreliable as assassinations in that way.
Aragami 2 is too generic to impress and has too many problems. The missions are as boring as they are repetitive, the game’s mechanics are rigid and unreliable, and the enemies are a bit of a joke. I put 17 hours into this game and I honestly, kind of want them back. It certainly isn’t the worst stealth game I’ve ever played, but it’s so mediocre that I’d be remiss to recommend it to anyone.
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