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Title Aaero
Developer Mad Fellows
Publisher Reverb Triple XP
Release Date April 11th, 2017
Genre Rhythm, Shmup
Platform PS4, Xbox One, PC
Age Rating ESRB E for Everyone
Official Website

Aaero is an interesting blend of a rhythm game and a shmup. There’s no real story here to speak of, just a list of songs to play through. The core gameplay involves flying your spaceship thing in tune with the music. This entails a ribbon of light that swirls around to the beat of the music. The goal is to keep the ship on this ribbon of light. The other half of this game involves some enemies coming in and you, obviously, shooting them down. You move your targeting reticule over enemies to lock on to them, and then you can shoot out homing shots.

The gameplay works quite well. I was a little skeptical about having to follow this tiny ribbon of light with just an analog stick, but Aareo is fortunately pretty forgiving. As you stay on the ribbon, your score multiplier will slowly go up to a maximum of an eight times multiplier. If you’re not on the ribbon, this doesn’t go up, so accuracy is important to a high score.

Aaero | Gameplay

The shmup aspect of this game felt a little less polished. You can only lock on to enemies and shoot out homing shots, not shoot them directly. If an enemy remains on screen for too long, they’ll shoot out an attack, which you cannot dodge. Your ship can take a maximum of three hits before you fail the song. The homing shots sometimes shoot out directly towards enemy ships, and sometimes they seem like they’re taking their time. I feel like this makes these segments a little more stressful than they needed to be.

Aaero | Even more gameplay

My favorite parts of Aaero were its boss fights, of which there are three. I felt like this was a much better use of the shooting mechanics than just taking out a few enemies every now and then. The first boss was a giant sand worm, and part of the stage has you flying through the inside of it, which I thought was cool. The end of the stage also changes on whether or not you managed to defeat the boss. For example, if you didn’t kill the giant sand worm, he’ll eat you at the very end. However, you can still technically beat the song and still not kill the boss, which I thought was a bit odd.

Aaero | Boss fight

Visually, there’s not much to say about Aaero, though it is a nice looking game. It keeps things pretty simple and subdued so that the light ribbon you need to follow doesn’t get lost in the background. I can’t really say any environments were all that memorable, aside from perhaps the boss stages I mentioned. Some more variety in those would’ve been nice as well, but perhaps they wanted to stick to a certain aesthetic. Everything has kind of a geometric and futuristic look to it.

Aaero being a rhythm game, a big part of it is, obviously, music. Well, I hope you like dubstep, as that makes up the entirety of the soundtrack. I can appreciate the genre every now and then, and I did quite enjoy some of the tracks. I would have appreciated a little more variety, however. The tracklist is fairly small, and it will probably only take a couple hours to get through them all. However, like most rhythm games, the goal is to eventually play on the hardest difficulty. Difficulties are unlocked by obtaining a certain amount of stars. Completing a song gets you a certain amount determined by how well you did.

Aaero | Another boss fight

Normal difficulty wasn’t too bad. However, I felt certain songs were much harder than others, mostly due to wrestling with the shooting mechanics. I was never able to figure out why sometimes the homing shots zoomed straight towards enemies, and sometimes they just lazily floated over to them. Not being able to avoid enemy shots felt a little too unfair. I recall in one song struggling against multiple enemies that took quite a while to kill. Essentially, it felt like I had to just hope things worked out in these segments rather than them coming down to precise flying.

If you’re really interested in a rhythm game with a unique control scheme and total dubstep soundtrack, this might be a game you’re interested in. If you’re looking for something to re-ignite a love for rhythm games, I don’t think this will do that. Aaero is $15, and I got several hours of fun out of it. However, if you’re a perfectionist, you could certainly be slaving away at these songs for hours. Personally, I didn’t find the mechanics or music compelling enough to really sink my teeth into it.

Review Score

Review copy provided by the publisher.

About Jason Quinn

Been playing video games since before I could form coherent sentences. I love a wide variety of games, from fast, technical action games to slow RPGs. Aside from video games, I have a love of music, film, and anime.