ReviewsReview: Aeon Drive

Review: Aeon Drive

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Game developers have a bleak outlook on mankind’s future. Robots take over, people live in slums, and usually, we’re all doomed, one way or another. Though the picture isn’t as rosy as I’d like, there are always positives. Alien technology, special abilities, and new unfounded worlds. Aeon Drive mixes all these elements in its dark and doomed cyberpunk-inspired gameplay.

Developed by 2Awesome Studio and published by 2Awesome Studio and CRITICAL REFLEX, this is a speedrun platform game. Using a 2D side-scrolling perspective, this neon-infused game reeks of old-school charm with a futuristic twist.

Aeon Drive has an unusual but fun concept.

Time is of the essence is a well-known phrase and it’s very apt for Aeon Drive’s main concept. The gameplay revolves around a thirty-second countdown clock and a desperate dash for the finish line. You must search each small stage looking for collectables and energy cells to extend your time. You’ll encounter obstacles and monsters that will kill you instantly. You must balance speed and poise with guile and patience. You’ll die repeatedly, but as long as you learn from your mistakes, it matters not.

You control Jackalyne, a pilot of a time jumping, space hopping vessel. Her core drive has become damaged and she must land on a strange planet before it explodes. She touches down near ‘New Barcelona’, but fragments of her engine are spewed across the land. You must find these unstable entities before they explode with catastrophic consequences.

Slash your sword and avoid those bullets.

Collectables, obstacles, enemies, and energy cells.

No platformer is complete without an array of collectables to locate. Fortunately, Aeon Drive spoils you with data cubes, gems, and hot dogs to find. However, unlike other platform games, Aeon Drive pushes you to your limits if you wish to collect them all.

Luckily, your limited timer can be extended. If you explore each level and gather further energy cells you’ll slow the ticking clock. These handy power sources must be combined to increase the timer by five seconds. This doesn’t sound much, but these precious seconds can be the difference between victory and success.

To increase the challenge further, the developers decided to add obstacles and enemies to block your path. Your foes can be killed with your handy sword, but touching them is certain doom, so beware. The traps are equally brutal and many require a teleportation device to pass them. You’ll encounter flames, saw blades, moving platforms, cannons, and so forth the further you venture. It quickly becomes a headache and planning is a must if you wish to succeed.

Don’t touch those circular saws.

Aeon Drive looks great and has a Sega vibe.

Old-school gaming is massive at the moment, and I love anything with a retro look. I was particularly pleased to see the Sega-inspired aesthetics that run through Aeon Drive. Its wonderfully pixelated world and neon-infused colour palette transport you to this dangerous futuristic world. The gameplay is smooth, and I encountered no bugs or issues while playing.

The dated style continues with the synth-wave audio. This 80s staple works brilliantly with the purple hues and cold atmosphere of the robot-controlled world. Its pace and aggressive tones matched the time-pressured action, and it was great to listen to. The music was complemented nicely, by the odd smattering of dialogue and the cutscenes. The Americanised style would normally annoy me, but its cheesy influence matched the personality of the overly confident protagonist.

Transport past the flaming obstacles.

Lots of mechanics make it tough to learn.

With many mechanics to concentrate on and time ticking away, this isn’t an easy game to master. Its thorough tutorial breaks the ice nicely, but in the heat of the action, mistakes are made. Once you get to grips with the controls, you’ll love slashing your enemies, transporting through obstacles, and leaping chasms. It’s a rewarding game because of its difficulty and it’s extremely addictive.

Every stage has a leaderboard to try to top, and this simple idea is so moreish. Racing across lands to beat strangers around the globe was a fantastic concept and one that kept me playing. The longevity is increased further, still, because of the array of collectables. You’ll die, lose your way, and beg for help as you attempt to find them all. This feeling continues with the challenging achievement list that’s tough to complete. The game must be finished and everything found if you wish to unlock everything.

Aeon Drive is unusual, but it’s wonderfully polished.

The platform genre is saturated, so games have to stand out from their peers. Aeon Drive is so well polished and unusual that it does just that. I loved the time pressure and the small but intelligent stage design. Its old-school aesthetics work brilliantly and it’s an unusual and special platformer that needs your attention. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Save ‘New Barcelona’ from a catastrophic event. Avoid the obstacles, kill your foes, and grab each shard.

SUMMARY

Aeon Drive is a fantastic futuristic action-platformer. Its neon-infused colour palette and small but well thought out levels scream retro charm. With Sega Mega Drive aesthetics and time-pressured mechanics, it's tough to play and great to look at.

+ Retro graphics.
+ Synth-wave audio.
+ Rewarding mechanics.
+ Addictive.
+ Excellent value for money.
- The controls are tough to master.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]
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