Aragami 2 Game Review – A Sequel That Strays From the Original

In this Aragami 2 game review we dive deep into the much-anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Aragami. Lince Works took their time to develop the sequel, but it went in a direction much different than that of the original game.

The stealth-focused gameplay got a ton of improvements and was expanded greatly, but the game’s repetitiveness and bland presentation don’t allow it to be the grand sequel everyone was expecting. Nonetheless, Aragami 2 offers a ton of fun for fans of the stealth genre, so let’s start this Aragami 2 game review by comparing the differences between Aragami and Aragami 2.

The Shadow Assassin sneaking towards the enemy to assassinate them
Image credit: Lince Works

Aragami 1 vs Aragami 2 – What’s different?

Fans of the original Aragami will be baffled by the sequel’s complete change in tone.

The light vs darkness theme is completely abandoned

While the first game centered around the light vs darkness theme, the sequel abandoned it completely. Aragami had a minimalist design, with a cape that displays the amount of shadow powers you can still tap into. Being in the light or using your powers shortens your cape. Aragami 2 ditches that system and goes for a generic UI that shows a stamina bar. Light no longer has any effect on your character, it’s just a place where enemies spot you more easily.

There are even fights where the sun is up in the sequel. The first game made it very clear that being in direct sunlight kills Aragami instantly. Even lanterns in the first game depleted your powers, while the village in the sequel has tons of them all over the place.

The Shadow Assassin
Image credit: Lince Works

The loss of visual identity

Aragami had a unique visual flair. Mixing cel-shaded with the dirty inkwash aesthetic was a brilliant move. The art style is simple and minimalistic but very distinct and unique. Everything was able to flow beautifully well, with no visual clutter on screen at any point.

Aragami 2 goes for a conventional polygonal visual style. It’s bland and generic, but it isn’t ugly. However, you won’t be impressed by the sequel’s visual prowess as it lacks the striking uniqueness that the original has in spades.

Aragami 2 greatly improves its stealth gameplay

Aragami 2 does move away from the first game’s stealth mechanics. This time around, you get a much more traditional stealth package. Lure enemies away from their patrol routes, take them out, move on to the next group.

Furthermore, the open maps greatly enhance this style of stealth gameplay. There are multiple objectives and pathways. Complete the mission as a ghost with non-lethal takedowns or slaughter everyone on the map. The choice is yours and Aragami 2 offers a ton of powers and abilities. Each one is fun as hell to use and no skill is useless. In that department, the sequel offers a lot more bang for your back than the first game.

A wide array of powers

Shadow Leap teleports you to ledges instantly. One passive skill lets you see an enemy’s patrol path. Upgrading skills is also rewarding, as whistling to lure guards away becomes a lot better once you’re able to target one guard to whistle at and lure away from his comrades.

On one hand, you have Shadow Pull that snatches people towards you and triggers a non-lethal takedown. On the other hand, there’s Warp Strike, a teleporting attack that triggers an Assassination immediately after throwing your weapon. These creative skills remind me a lot of Dishonored, which is a good and bad thing considering all stealth games opt for similar tools all the time.

Doesn’t matter if you want to mesmerize enemies or turn completely invisible, Aragami 2 has lots of skills and each is satisfying to use. Both the “ghost” and the assassin paths are rewarding and packed with skills to complement both styles of stealth gameplay.

The Shadow Assassin killing an enemy
Image credit: Lince Works

The AI is very “forgiving”

One thing I can’t figure out is the AI in stealth games. I talked about this in my Deathloop 2 game review, which also has stealth gameplay and lackluster AI, but I want to know if the devs intentionally make their AI stupid as hell.

What would you do if a shadow man killed 8 of your men? Would you fall into the pits of ignorance after 10 minutes of searching and completely forget about all that? Because that’s what happens in this game. Yes, the enemies look for you. For a while. But then they suddenly get amnesia and forget about all the slaughter that occurred a second ago.

Yes, it’s better to have dumb AI than the kind that spots you instantly from across the map in a stealth game. Yet, Aragami 2 got a combat system to ease the pains of getting caught.

But its combat system sucks

If I’m playing a shadow ninja stealth game, I will try my best to avoid direct confrontations. Then again, I’ll get caught eventually and then what? Aragami 2 has a strange solution to that problem. Once an enemy engages you, the camera enters a Sekire or Ghost of Tsushima mode.

The Shadow Assassin getting ready to pounce on an enemy
Image credit: Lince Works

You really want to avoid direct combat

Aragami didn’t have any of this. In the first game, enemies had torches or light-based weapons. One hit from that and you’re a goner.  On the other hand, Aragami 2 lets you engage with enemies directly. I don’t know if I’m just a horrible player, but the animations don’t follow the actual hit registration. Some parries work even though they look like they don’t. Similarly, some attacks go through while I was certain I parried them.

Most of the time, it’s better to just run away. Which is hard when the game locks you in this combat mode camera style. And if multiple enemies attack you, you’re done. Your abilities are also mostly tailored for stealth, so they’re not useful in a direct confrontation.

The idea was great but the execution is severely lacking

While Aragami 2 didn’t need a combat system, I understand the devs for putting it in. Some players like to pop off and slaughter everyone. Doing that means you can’t always stay in stealth, so having a way to defend yourself if you’re caught is nice.

But they didn’t put enough work into this system. It feels hollow, like an afterthought. This makes no sense considering the grand 1v1 camera mode the game throws you into when you’re battling an opponent directly.

I’d usually avoid fighting altogether, but for this Aragami 2 game review I had to test the system out. It’s quite bad most of the time, which is disappointing.

The Shadow Assassin engaging the enemy in direct combat
Image credit: Lince Works

Aragami 2 suffers most from repetition

The first game had a firm linear plot. Progress through the areas, overcome any obstacles, and move on to the next area accordingly. Meanwhile, Aragami 2 goes in a different direction with the Kakurega Village. It’s a hub where you go to get missions, buy consumables, and learn about the story.

The mission-based progression is too bloated

Going to the same place over and over again isn’t that enticing. And that’s what you’ll be doing in Aragami 2. The game sends you to the same locations, but this time with a slightly different objective. Thankfully, there’s no need to grind for XP points to unlock more skills as XP rewards are generous.

That’s why each return to a familiar location isn’t that bad, as now you have more tools at your disposal to playfully eliminate the enemy forces. Likewise, if you tried a ghost run the previous time, now you can try to completely massacre everyone in your next run.

But I played every mission multiple times for an Aragami 2 game review. Will the ordinary gamer go through these missions a lot? I doubt it, as even though Aragami 2 has stellar stealth gameplay, it’s not that complex that you’re still having fun with it after 10 hours of game time.

The Shadow Assassin looming
Image credit: Lince Works

A complete do-over of the story from the first game

In the original Aragami, you were a Shadow spirit. Your summoner enlisted your aid against her enemies. That grounded, more personal story where dark fights against the light are long forgotten. Now you’re playing as Shadow Assassins, people infected with a curse that lets them control shadows but also slowly cripples their minds and makes them go mad while making their skin dark.

Aragami 2’s story takes the stage in the land of Rashomon, 100 years after the events of the first game. The sequel goes for a broader story, but one that’s a bit generic. Players need to save the Kurotsuba clan from the curse and the Akatsuchi clan that’s controlling them. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, and you won’t get all that caught up in this ninja business whatsoever. But it’s serviceable enough to set up the stage for shadow ninjas going around and slaughtering other ninjas.

Aragami 2 and its glorious co-op gameplay

When it comes to playing with friends, Aragami offers excellent co-op gameplay once again. Aragami 2 offers a 3-player co-op option now. And it’s all the better for it, as treating the game as a co-op experience greatly increases its fun factor.

The open-ended design of the map, the breakneck swiftness of the traversal abilities, all of that shines ever so brightly in the co-op mode. Much more than you can imagine. While it’s a solid single-player stealth game, it gets a lot better when you can chain together attacks and skills with two other Shadow Assassins.

Just imagine playing Dishonored but with three other people. It’s a lot of chaos and mayhem and fun which you shouldn’t skip.

A fiery warrior
Image credit: Lince Works

Conclusion

Aragami 2 is a solid standalone ninja stealth game. I won’t deny that. But the charm and soul of the original are not present here. You should still pick it up if you enjoy stealth games that come with a ton of player freedom. Especially if you can play it with friends, it’s an amazing short game to experience with a couple of buddies.

The sequel left behind the thematic gameplay and story of the first game for a broader, more standard stealth experience that comes with a ton of skills, upgrades, and items that were missing from the first game. To some, this will be an upgrade, but everyone that liked Aragami’s shadow aesthetic won’t find that in Aragami 2.

Where to buy Aragami 2

But, the most important part of this Aragami 2 game review is here at last.

Aragami 2 was released 10 days ago. It’s a bit early to expect a sale or a discount on a game that just came out. That would be the case, normally, but HRK Game has an offer you won’t refuse.

You can head over to our store right now and find Aragami 2 with a -26% discount attached to it! The best part is, the discount will always stay there and it can even increase over time. No need to pay full price for a game when HRK Game has you covered.

That’s not all, both the original Aragami and its expansion, Aragami: Nightfall are available on HRK Game for a discount price as well! Aragami is currently -73% off while the Nightfall expansion has a -15% discount.

 

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