Aero’s Quest on PC
There’s a lot to be said for the platforming genre, which has certainly progressed quite a bit from the simple days of the Atari 2600 or NES. Unfortunately, progress isn’t universal, and Aero’s Quest by indie devs Soloweb Studios and Ravens Eye Studio seems to have missed a lot of it. With a dated appearance, remarkably simplistic gameplay, and clunky controls, Aero’s Quest feels more like something to come out of the early era of gaming than something I’d expect to see released on Steam in 2015. However, it’s not entirely without merit, so let’s take a closer look.
The graphics and sound design in Aero’s Quest are kind of a haphazard meeting between the 16-bit era and today. With a decent retro-styled soundtrack behind it, it’s clear the developers were trying to aim for the nostalgia that’s become a huge motivator in game sales in recent years. Each level consists of essentially the same task; players must guide Aero from the starting point to the locked cell where the evil Andraus has captured generic damsel-in-distress Ariella. Along the way, a number of points must be activated in order to unlock the cage, though — of course — this doesn’t mean any actual rescue takes place, as villain and damsel vanish together in a cloud of green smoke.
If you’re the type of person that values nostalgia over pretty much anything else, Aero’s Quest is sure to have some appeal. It’s difficult, unforgiving, and definitely reminiscent of bygone days of gaming. There seemed to be something lacking for me to feel that sense of connection that most of these retro-styled games bring with them, but there were still moments of fun to be had. Along with the puzzles, Aero’s Quest includes a number of interesting power ups, including super jumping, speed boost, and time-slowing tools to help Aero reach the end of each level safely, which can be tough enough even with these since the slightest misstep means an instant, gory death.
What Aero’s Quest struggles with more than anything is, as I mentioned, clunky controls. While a gamepad is supported, which is great for platformers, Aero’s movements are stiff. Jump height and distance are difficult to control, and there’s no movement allowed when crouched. All of this adds up to gameplay that is frustrating not from necessarily poor level design, but poor design in how players interact with those levels. To add to the ways this can be aggravating, the floor switches that you must turn green to proceed are very sensitive, flipping between red (locked) and green (unlocked) on the slightest touch of any pixel.
If there’s one thing to say squarely in favor of Aero’s Quest, it’s easily the amount of content for the price. Currently sold for $4.99 on Steam, the game features 101 levels of increasingly maddening difficulty. Given the somewhat lackluster appearance and feel of the game, it’s a more than fair price point for the sheer number of levels, though it may not be enough for me to recommend the title. If you’re really into the retro-style scene or simply looking for something with considerable content for the cost, it may be worth checking out. For anyone else, though, there are certainly better offerings within the genre around the same price, so skip it and find one of those.