One of the best things about video game conventions, and PAX conventions in particular, is the sheer number of indie games which get to be put in front of thousands of people right along with the big names. With so many indie games gathered together I always manage to find a few which are really interesting but had previously escaped my notice. This year Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is the one which really surprised me.
Aurion is an Action RPG, but it brings some new ideas to this very familiar table. The basic set-up of the story is King Enzo and Queen Erine were the subjects of a coup d’état on their wedding day and as result are now exiled from their country. They decide to travel the world to find and earn the support of other countries. All of this sounds pretty familiar in general, however it isn’t your classic good vs evil tail. During their journey they will grapple with deep geopolitical and existential dilemmas which relate to their roles as King and Queen. In many ways this story is about differing viewpoints where there are no clear good or evil options, just different ways of doing things. All of these things work together to make the overall story in Aurion be much deeper and nuanced then we usually see.
The gameplay is split between two different modes: exploration and combat. During the exploration phase players will encounter various different activities including climbing, swimming, and eating. Yes, the last one is eating, you have to feed the character’s food they like to help them develop more quickly. Sadly, this wasn’t included in the demo but it does sound interesting.
One type of challenge which I encountered during the demo at PAX East was a climbing challenge. Climbing worked by jumping back and forth between two cliffs which were facing each other. In most games this would be a test of speed and coordination but in Aurion it was more of a test of patience and decision making. For every jump there are two choices of where to go and the player has to pick one. Often the best choice is to wait a second or two for the best jump to be open instead of rushing through as fast as possible.
Combat also reinforces the importance of patience while still being very active and engaging. Combat was mostly as Enzo, though Erine can switch in to heal him quickly or cast a very strong magic attack. There were a couple of small fights and one big one during the demo so there was a fair amount of button mashing on my part as I figured out the combos for attacking or defending and also the timing of everything. In the boss battle it was possible to make the boss miss by jumping at the right moment, of course my attacks could also be avoided by him in a similar way.
During fights Enzo builds up Aurion power which allows him to unleash stronger more devastating attacks. What these attacks do exactly depends on what kind of Aurion you use and how you combine them, so there is a lot of variability right away. I’m really looking forward to playing more of this game and really delving into the intricacies of how combat functions and what the possibilities for combing various actions are.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is currently available on Steam for $19.99 USD and is certainly worth a look for anyone interested in action RPGs.