Aaru's Awakening

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Aaru's Awakening Game Poster Image
Excruciatingly hard platformer could prove irritating.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Explores thematic relationships between dawn, day, dusk, and night and encourages players to think about how balance is necessary in all things.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aaru is a fantastical animal servant of the god Dawn. Little, if any, of what he does could plausibly be mimicked in the real world.

Ease of Play

Extremely hard, with an unlockable option to make it even harder. Most players will die hundreds of times as they try to complete each relatively small level. 

Violence

Aaru can die by falling into toxic hazards, touching enemies, and coming into contact with worm-like projectiles, but he simply disappears. Aaru can destroy enemies by teleporting inside them, causing them to disappear. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aaru's Awakening is a downloadable side-scrolling platformer game with little violence. Players control a powerful quadrupedal beast with a bird's head. Rather than fight enemies, the player's goal is simply to make it to the end of each level alive. Aaru can die in many ways, all of which see him simply disappear, sometimes with a flash of energy. He can destroy enemies who get in his way by teleporting into the space they occupy, causing them to disappear into light. Although the content is pretty innocuous for its target audience, parents should note that this game is extremely challenging. Even older, experienced players likely will die dozens of times each level. It's not for the easily frustrated. 

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What's it about?

The powerful gods of Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Night have tried to keep an uneasy peace, but now one of them is upsetting the balance in AARU'S AWAKENING, a side-scrolling 2-D platformer. Players take control of Aaru, a champion of Dawn with a bird-like head who gallops along on arms and legs like a gorilla. Aaru can run and jump like characters in most platformers, but he also has the ability to charge through crumbling walls and teleport anywhere he can shoot a glowing ball. Levels are designed to make the most of his teleportation ability, forcing players to use it to get through narrow gaps and avoid enemies and hazards. Many areas are designed so players need to precisely teleport multiple times in quick succession to avoid deadly traps and creatures. One small mistake is often enough to ensure death, but checkpoints are frequent and there's no limit on lives. 

Is it any good?

It's pretty clear that Aaru's Awakening was designed for people who enjoy a serious challenge. It's an exhaustingly difficult and unforgiving game that demands skilled movement and precision teleportation while rewarding even small mistakes with death. Lots of death. As in, on some levels you'll probably die 100 times or more. Even those who usually enjoy putting their skills to the test may be turned off by this one. Conflicting controls can make it hard to do what you want to do when you want to do it (the mouse pointer is used to control the direction of both Aaru's teleportation ball and his charged pounces, to much frustration), and some levels are simply devious in their design, bordering on unfair.

It feels great when you manage to carry out all the right moves in a tricky area and reach the next checkpoint, but that feeling is frequently tempered by the relentless parade of failures that come before and after. Aaru's Awakening's imaginative world, along with its hand-drawn animated creatures and plants, is pretty to look at, and the teleportation system is pretty cool, but only the most masochistic of players is likely to make it through to the end. This one's just plain punishing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about perseverance. Do you relish or avoid challenges? How do you feel when you are finally successful at something that's considered to be really hard? Is it worth the effort?

  • Families also can discuss the impact of violence in media. How do you feel when your character is forced to attack animals in a game? Do you feel differently if you attack animals to hunt and harvest their resources as opposed to attacking them because they're aggressive enemies? Why, or why not? 

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For kids who love challenges

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