Released back in 2016, the original Aragami was a nice throwback to old-fashioned stealth games such as Tenchu.
Coming to PC and consoles mid-September, Aragami 2 is much the same. Let’s face it, the old stealth formula wasn’t broke – it just went out of fashion. And so why should the sequel to the game that brought it back change its ways? It has been polished, however, and combat is now a tactical option. The result is a confident sequel that stealth fans are bound to want to keep their eyes on.
This may be Aragami 2, but knowledge of the events of the original game is seemingly not required. Players are quickly introduced to new protagonist Kurai who, after a short tutorial mission, finds himself inflicted with a terrible supernatural affliction. One of the last elite warriors of the Aragami, he can manipulate shows to his advantage, but the cost is a corroding body and a mind that is steadily being eaten away. But by joining and assisting the shadow clan, maybe something can be found to help stave off the affliction.
With the village of the shadow clan being used a hub, missions can be browsed and accepted via a board, and then travelled to by entering a portal. It’s a nice new touch, no doubt implemented as a result of the game having support for up to three-player co-op. So, you can now get a small group of friends together for some coordinated stealth action, meeting in Kakurega Village before you head out to do some sneaking and slashing.
The preview build I’ve been hands-on with didn’t allow for any multiplayer shenanigans, instead focusing on the single-player experience. And it has to be said that the multiplayer aspect of the game doesn’t compromise it at all. Anyone that loved the first game is seemingly bound to get on with Aragami 2 like a house on fire, and those who simply adore stealth games are likely to take quickly to it as well.
Missions take place in open environments that you’ll revisit multiple times with different objectives. How you achieve those objectives is up to you. Some players will try to sneak through undetected, completing their goal and then making their way back to the portal like a ghost. Others will try to assassinate as many enemies as they can along the way, hiding their bodies if they want to do their due diligence. And now combat is a valid option, too; stealth be damned.
When it comes to stealth, all the usual tricks can be employed, though there’s less emphasis on sticking to the shadows this time around. Kurai can hide behind cover, waiting for enemies to get close before knocking them out or penetrating them with a blade. He can also make use of tall grass or other foliage to cover his movement. Then there are his ever-useful shadow skills.
Shadow Leap allows Kurai to quickly dash to a ledge up high, allowing him to effortlessly traverse environments and gain the upper hand. Then there’s Shadow Dash, that allows Kurai to quickly move from one place to another while on the ground. You’ll quickly learn the first of multiple other shadow abilities available, too: Whisper, that allows you to draw the attention of enemies. Needless to say, Aragami 2 is a stealth game, but one in which you feel empowered.
Your combat abilities heighten that feeling of empowerment. If you got caught in the original Aragami it was pretty much game over, try again. Here, you simply have to adapt. Drawing your sword, you can slash at your enemies in order to battle your way out of a bad situation, though it pays to go on the defensive. Successfully parry your opponents’ attacks and they’ll be left reeling, allowing you to move in for a swift kill or a more merciful knockout.
With its open environments and new combat system, Aragami 2 feels much more dynamic than the original. There’s less trial and error involved – you’re not penalised as much for making a mistake and being detected. You will want to perform well, though, as you’re graded at the end of each mission. You’ll also be rewarded with gold and experience, essential for developing your skills and customising your character. After all, if you’re playing in co-op, you’re not going to want your Kurai looking exactly the same as someone else’s are you?
If I had to nit-pick about my time spent completing a handful of missions in Aragami 2, I’d say that the graphics aren’t particularly impressive, and there are some issues with the A.I. being a bit dumb at times. I was playing a preview build though, so both of those things could be addressed in the final game. And I have to say that I was particularly impressed by what I’ve heard of the game’s soundtrack so far.
Ultimately, if you’re a stealth fan, September might turn out to be a very good month for you. Aragami 2 is shaping up to be a accomplished sequel which builds on the mechanics of the original game while also changing the format somewhat. Completing missions alone has been very enjoyable, but I can’t wait to join up with others for some stealth-based multiplayer fun.
Aragami 2 launches 17th September on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.