Afterimage is an upcoming 2D metroidvania by Aurogon Shanghai, the game is set to release this month but we got an early hands-on look.
The metroidvania genre is currently overcrowded, from the early titles like Guacamelee to the Symphony of the Night love letters like Touhou Luna Nights and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
Every new title has the burden of being compared to excellent games that already came out, alongside having to fight for their spot with the newer releases.
We don’t have a full release yet, but Afterimage is shaping up to be a solid metroidvania, worthy of competing with the current market.
Afterimage boasts beautiful 2D visuals that have a hand-drawn look to them, the game is absolutely gorgeous and every area feels like a piece of art. This also extends to the character designs, which are creative but not visually busy.
The story centers around Renee and her annoying sidekick Ifree. Renee is the apprentice of a mage and lays powerful warriors to rest, lest they come back as Wanderers, reanimated corpses who lash out at anyone.
Afterimage‘s plot throws a lot of concepts at the player and explains some things later through a lore-dump inside of a library. The game is pretty straightforward but the plot can be hard to follow, especially since we only learn what a Wanderer is halfway through the demo.
Renee battles a giant wolf that has been empowered by unnatural magic and falls in battle, but miraculously comes back to life. Upon returning to her master’s place to warn everyone about the beast, she only finds disaster.
Renee’s master has been killed and her soul is currently in the process of being crystalized by a cloaked figure, with being Renee powerless to stop it.
This introduction plot is what kicks off the rest of the game, with Renee chasing this hooded figured, unsure of her true intentions, trying to rescue her master’s soul.
Aferimage has an emphasis in melee combat, at some point in the demo you get a fireball spell, but most of the time you will be facing enemies up-close.
The game’s combat feels a bit bland, especially before acquiring the dodge move, combat mostly centers around hitting an enemy and walking away from them to not get hit.
The dodge doesn’t have any invincibility frames, so its usage in combat is almost purely for movement, dodging needs to be really thought out, because you may dodge into something worse.
Boss fights have a much better rhythm to the combat than the regular enemy encounters, with bosses being very agile and hitting super hard. The player is always kept on their toes during these encounters and using your entire arsenal correctly becomes mandatory.
One of the early boss fights against a teleporting swordswoman is where the game really starts to show how impressive combat can be. Most of the game’s regular enemies don’t pose a huge threat, but bosses are there to remind you of the game’s difficulty.
Combat eventually picks up a lot more once you reach level 10 and start unlocking weapon skills, which give extra moves to your chosen primary or secondary weapon. You’ll be able to choose between a sword, greatsword, whip, scythe and dual blades.
Afterimage looks like its going to have a plethora of interesting systems and ways for the player to react in combat, it is really unfortunate that the game’s slow beginning and demo length don’t show us a lot of that.
Afterimage would benefit from putting the player halfway through the game for its demo, just to show what can eventually be done with the combat.
Despite its slow start, I am still excited for Afterimage, we got a glimpse of less than two hours into a supposed 25-30 hour game, so I really want to see how difficulty will ramp up and how intricate combat will actually get.
Afterimage is set to release on the 25th of April, 2023, for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).