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Game Info:

Alwa's Awakening
Developed by: Elden Pixels
Published by: Elden Pixels
Released: February 2, 2017
Available on: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux
Genre: Platformer
Number of players: 1
Price: $9.99

Thank you, Elden Pixels, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

The nation of Alwa has been under the control of evil for centuries. But now, a young woman from a distant land has been summoned to defeat the forces of evil and bring goodness and light to the world. Et cetera, yadda yadda yadda and so on.

The premise of the game is almost cliché, but it fits with the theme. Alwa's Awakening is a homage of the NES era, with 8-bit graphics and electronica of that age. The game also reflects the difficulty of that era, with some surprisingly challenging areas near the start.

Alwa's Awakening
Highlights:

Strong Points: Challenging platformer; good graphics and music; great replay value; a good homage to the NES era
Weak Points: Some areas a bit too difficult
Moral Warnings: Undead enemies; cartoonish violence; magic use

Another aspect of the game are the “Metroidvania” elements, which are incorporated surprisingly well. As the heroine Zoe explores the lands, she can uncover new spells to use with her magic staff. These include creating green blocks that she can stand on, or floating blue bubbles. The game is designed so that you can find all of the power-ups even before defeating any of the bosses in the game. Not only that, backtracking is highly encouraged, as the different power-ups can give you access to areas that were impossible to reach earlier. In addition to the items you can find, you can collect small blue orbs, which are hidden throughout the game, and add to Zoe's power when fighting bosses. The game allows for a lot of replay value, especially for those who are determined to discover everything this game has to offer.

The graphics to the game are cute in their 8-bit style. Even the little undead beasties have oversized heads and amusing expressions on their skeletal faces when they die. It's easy to tell what's happening in the game. The music fits the theme of the game wonderfully, adding to the atmosphere and mystery of the challenges without becoming annoying or overly repetitious. The controls are sharp and responsive, but I found that this game is easier when using a gamepad, rather than the keyboard. To my surprise, the game even responded well with my Logitech gamepad – which closely resembles the classic SNES controller in configuration, but tends to be completely nonfunctional in most games these days.

Alwa's Awakening
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 89%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The only real downside to the game are the challenging areas. Most of the rooms allow you time to think about the approach you want to take, and where to use your tools. Some of the areas will have enemies fire on you as soon as you enter the room, causing you to have to think on your feet. Combine the various monsters with an abundance of instant-kill obstacles (including running water) and you'll find yourself replaying several of the rooms – and boss fights – until you get it right. Zoe can take three hits from opponents before she dies, and although some enemies drop hearts to replenish her health, these drops tend to be few and far between. Fortunately, dying simply means one more addition to your death count, and you respawn at the last save point. You even get to keep any orbs, keys or power ups you managed to grab before your death, and doors you managed to unlock remain open. The longevity of the game may be questionable as well, since there is one Steam achievement that you can gain if you complete the game in less than two hours and with fewer than five deaths. However, to gain this achievement, you will have to either know this game quite well – which involves playing through it repeatedly – or be insanely good at platformers.

On the moral front, there isn't a whole lot to worry about. There is the presence of undead, skeletal enemies, and spellcasting foes. But defeated opponents merely stagger backwards with a stunned (often comical) expression before disappearing in a flash of smoke.

Alwa's Awakening is a homage to 8-bit era games, and nails everything perfectly in this regard. It's an intriguing mix to have a game that's so new, but feels so nostalgic at the same time. For those who enjoy challenging – but not impossible – 2D platformers, I heartily recommend adding this game to your library.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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