Indie-ana Jones: Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan
I know I am a day late and a dollar short on this one but I think it needs to be mentioned. I just came across this rough gem and it is a truly rare one. Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a game centered on African fantasy and was developed by an African studio. It is vastly different than most RPGs that I have played in the past. There is a lack of Orcs, elves, or a great evil trying to destroy the earth. It centers more on a young couple’s quest to figure out who they are and what kind of rulers they want to be. Then they will fight the bad guy who overthrew them (okay they couldn’t throw out every RPG trope).
I really enjoyed my time with Aurion: Legacy of Kori-Odan. I admit that the story took a little bit to get interesting, as most of the beginning is setup and pretty standard JRPG story line. Later however the story takes some interesting twists and turns that eventually all pays off. What makes Aurion special are the conflicts. Each one is fought not to destroy evil but to solve the existential questions about who the characters are and what side they will fall on. Even early on I wasn’t sure how to feel about the “bad guy” since he was really looking out for the people. Enzo Kori-Odan, the young prince, and his wife Erine Evou are not completely prepared to take the roll of king and queen. This is where the coup comes into play. Erine’s brother decides to overthrow Enzo to save the people from disaster. Enzo and Erine believe that he is certainly in the wrong but once they are exiled they enter into a whole new geopolitical landscape. To win back the throne they will have to navigate this new world and discover who they are and who they should strive to be.
Unlike a lot of JRPG style games you do not play as a group, you only get the pair. The king and queen fight in tandem and they complement each other. Erine is mainly focused on shielding Enzo from injury or worse. Enzo, on the other hand, is the brute force. The combat felt a little stale by the end but working to create a masterwork of combo’s makes the experience much more enjoyable. Though the combat system did seem varied from pretty early on in the game. You can combo together your Aurionics (mysterious energy used in battle), regular attacks, and Erine’s abilities. A whirlwind of destruction can be swirling around you with a ton of enemies swept up in it; I loved when you could get a pile of bad guys all in a combo. In doing the large combos, I was surprised that the game ran so well. I have played much larger budget games that had issues when you get too many characters on screen and all of them are participating in an action(s).
Aurion takes a different approach to the leveling system and it is one that is not well explained. The system is not difficult but if you are not paying close attention then you may miss it. There are levels and then there are ability levels and each is developed in different ways. To level up, you just have to play and defeat enemies. If you want to level up abilities, you need to use them. So, if you are lagging behind in one area just try and remember to use that ability or type of ability more often for a while to catch back up.
On the story side of things it’s good but there are some translation issues. The translation problems really don’t take away from anything but for those who are grammar and punctuation Nazis, it might be galling. The story itself is well written and a vastly different take than most western and Japanese games. Aurion is written from a perspective that I have not ever seen represented (I may be wrong but in that case there are few). The biggest complaint I have is when they are telling the story it goes to “cut scenes” then loads to combat, then loads back to a cut scene. These cut scenes are just text between the characters with no change to the area at all. I am not sure why they did this, just something that could be optimized and make Aurion's pace a little faster.
Overall, Aurion is a game deserving of praise. It does a lot right, from the combat system to the story to the art work. The only missteps were relatively small. Having awkward translation and an unexplained but pretty simple leveling system shouldn’t hold it back. The biggest problem, for me, was the constant loading between scenes. It hurt the story/immersion to have to constantly be taken out of it. I would recommend it to anyone that was looking for a unique perspective. It falls in the same category as Never Alone. A good tale from a different perspective with a few flaws that hold it back from being a perfect game. Just go pick it up and enjoy this breath of fresh air.