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The Awakener: Forgotten Oath - Ultimate Review

At a time when there are a huge number of souls-likes, rogue-likes, souls-lights, and rogue-lights in the indie sphere of gaming it’s often hard for studios to publish games that stand-out over the current deluge of similar games. But very occasionally a game manages to be just unique enough that it sticks with you after a quick playthrough. And that, dear readers, is where The Awakener: Forgotten Oath comes in.

A game that is reminiscent of some of the less dismal locales and environments from Bloodborne and Dark Souls, the Awakener puts players in a fantastical, medieval realm where, as is to be expected, the forces of evil are trying to destroy the world. Starting the game with a standard character wielding a sword and shield, players are slowly taken through a dynamic onboarding sequence and introduced to many of the games core mechanics, all whilst battling skeletons and some giant spiders (because why not!). If, so far, you’re reading this wondering how the game sets itself apart from other souls-likes (or in this case souls-light) games, the answer is simple. The use of a rogue-like level/area selection along with all the wonderful mechanics you’d expect from a the other highly popular genre of game. Along with the fact that you don’t change you weapon when you wish to use a different playstyle, oh no, similar to the old school Dynasty Warriors games, if you want a different playstyle (such as a more agile, dexy, sword wielder, or a spear-totting tank) you must unlock a different playable character. Each with a unique combat style and, slightly different personalities.

Speaking of the different characters and their class, the combat system realises on the familiar, whilst providing a slightly greater variation than your average souls-like. And much of this is down to each class having abilities that are specifically focused on either ground combat, or aerial combat, which give players the opportunity to whale on the trash mobs in a whole variety of ways. When you factor in the special abilities characters have access to, which are beautifully woven into the games broader lore and narrative, the combat has enough variety to feel fresh, and provide players with enough to keep even the most discerning of player engaged from a tactical perspective.

To ensure that you are able to make the most of The Awakeners broad range of magic skills, and various player characters, the game makes use of a couple of different in-game currencies to allow players to ‘purchase’ new characters to play as, along with levelling up, and expanding on the variety of abilities they can use. However, don’t expect this to be the only way to expand playstyles, as The Awakener provides it’s players with choices at the end of each small level section as to where they want to go next. Do you take the easy path and get smaller rewards, or do you risk the more challenging route, potentially face a mini-boss and lose over an hour of grinding (and if you’re curious, yes that specific example did happen to me during our time with the game!). This choice, and the way the game saves your progress between each area is also why I’ve spent much of this review referring to The Awakener as a “souls-light”. It has some of the ball-busting challenge we love from a Soulsborne, or Souls-like, however it has other areas that all the player to breathe. This game will not throw a Blight Town at you, instead it will give you a section of Blight Town, with your choice of next steps. You may be a glutton for punishment and wish to take on one of the challenging mini-bosses, or you may want to merely walk into a room with 10 skeletons and an undead mage to give yourself a break from having larger enemies wiping the floor with you.

The narrative of the game is told predominantly through dialogue from NPCs, and the tone of the game is somewhat less oppressive than that of some similar games within this souls and rogue-light genre. However, the game offers some range in its narrative delivery through its environmental storytelling, with the choice of routes players take providing some subtle narrative clues. However, the dialogue (for the most part) is designed to be a mixture of vague exposition coupled with learning more about individual characters, their goals, and their wants for the game. Like the lovely chats you would have with the NPCs in Elden Ring, just with the dialogue being slightly less obtuse in terms of working out what they actually want. Furthering the narrative intrigue in The Awakener is how, at every level of the game, there is a world-based reason for things. Every one of the abilities, and ultimate abilities you have access to is linked narratively to something in the game world. Where some games gives you the ability to cast an earthquake just because it would look cool, The Awakener has you casting it because you have made a pact with one of the realms many gods so that you may rid the world of evil. Everything in the game is, in some way, tangentially linked to the core narrative in way that is often overlooked in some modern games. And this attention to narrative detail is a real breath of fresh air in a game that is trying to fit into a somewhat oversaturated indie scene.

The ways The Awakeners uses narrative weaving to explain everything in the game in an accessible way, is why I’m so excited to get my hands on the finished product. And I say this, because as much as I enjoyed my time with The Awakener, there were some slight issues in terms of optimisation on my system (which is not a store-bought office PC), however these issues can be quickly rectified by the team working on the title and for that reason, I’m not holding that against them. The Awakener’s: Forgotten Oath is an ambitious, intriguing, and wholly enjoyable game, and I for one cannot wait to play more of it come it’s full launch.


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