Taking to the skies on Switch is AER Memories of Old; a beautiful, low-poly adventure game which already made its mark on PS4, Xbox One and Steam in 2017.
You play as a girl named Auk who can shape-shift into a bird, and is on a pilgrimage to the Land of Gods, to find out the truth of what happened generations ago when the gods mysteriously vanished.
First of all, this game is absolutely gorgeous. The colours and environments are stunning, and the peaceful soundtrack that accompanies your journey really brings it all together as one spectacular atmospheric adventure. Whilst the game is visually charming on the surface, seeing the remains of a lost, broken civilisation as you explore the world reminds you that there is darkness lurking within, which in places feels very eerie; it’s incredibly well executed.
One of the highlights of this game is the absolute freedom it gives you to explore the whole world whenever and however you like. The whole map is accessible from the start, meaning as soon as you can spread your wings, you can take in all the sights and sounds that this beautiful broken world in the sky has to offer. As long as you have the right keys (which are all available to get whenever you want), you can enter and complete any of the three main temples in any order you like. The game doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to exploring this world either; you’ll get hints here and there as to what direction you might want to head next, but other than that it’s all up to you to find your way around. This isn’t overwhelming though, in fact, allowing yourself to get a little lost in such an enchanting world is arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience.
This freedom also fits very well with the whole premise of being able to shape-shift into a bird. The feeling of escapism as you soar around the skies is blissful; you never tire of swooping down through the trees and clouds, and landing to take a closer look at interesting looking sights on the ground. You can really lose yourself into the experience, and it’s incredibly relaxing and enjoyable to do so.
One thing that did break the immersion a little however is how the game runs. At seemingly random times while exploring, both on land and in the sky, and often not in particularly detailed areas, the game would noticeably stutter, and cutscenes that would pan through an area often suffered noticeable frame drops too. These issues were particularly prevalent in handheld mode, but were not eliminated when put into TV mode either; the stutters were just as significant, but just not as frequent. This definitely wasn’t enough to ruin the experience, but it does feel like it could have been better.
It’s also worth noting that although sweet, this is a very short game. If you focused on powering through the temples and main story, you could probably finish it within a couple of hours, as the puzzles you need to complete to advance within the temples aren’t particularly challenging. However, if you explore the world to its fullest, you’re probably looking at more like 5 hours of gameplay. This is definitely recommended, as not only will you be getting more out of it in terms of game time, but by exploring, you can find and uncover hidden lore within the world, allowing you to piece together the tales of the past as you’re going along, which is a much more fulfilling experience.
Overall, AER Memories of Old is a wonderful experience that you won’t forget. However, its issues with stuttering and frame rate, along with the ever problematic “Switch Tax”, putting the price up significantly compared to its releases on other platforms, may mean you’d be better off sticking to those other platforms if you can. But, it’s absolutely worth playing if you haven’t already, and also worth getting on Switch if you can’t play it elsewhere.