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PN Review: Chasing Aurora

PN Review: Chasing Aurora
Justin 'J Money' Hinton

Chasing Aurora is a small Wii U indie eShop title developed by Broken Rules, the same company that developed “And Yet It Moves” for the Wii.  Broken Rules stuck with a highly stylized design approach while developing Chasing Aurora.  Chasing Aurora’s premise is a rather simple one in that the player takes control of a bird to fly around some rather stunning environments.  There is not much to this 2D aerial action game but that does not mean that it is not worthy of a gamers time and attention.  Chasing Aurora has been a surprisingly pleasant experience.

In the origami styled Alps players fly around as one of five different birds, Fink, Ruth, Storm, Solitude, or Fex.  Each bird has a very different look, my favorite being Storm.  It is very apparent that Broken Rules took a lot of care during development of Chasing Aurora to make the game not only enjoyable to play but also enjoyable to look at and listen to.  The environments are incredibly beautiful and are matched with equally pleasing music and sound effects.  There are many points during gameplay where I would have liked to have the time to stop and enjoy the environments within the game but unfortunately the gameplay does not lend itself to exploration of the different locales.

                       

Flying around the environments is rather simple and the controls could be easily mastered by gamers of any skill level.  One thing that really impressed me is even though the controls are rather easy to understand, players are given as much time as they want to familiarize themselves with the control scheme.  After selecting between single or multiplayer, character selection takes place.  Then the player or players are afforded the opportunity to take their bird or birds for a spin.  Within this screen prior to level selection players can fly around using the left stick on the GamePad (d-pad on the Wii Remote), flap their wings by tapping the A button (2 button on the Wii Remote), and dive to gain speed by holding the R button (1 button on the Wii Remote).  After exploring the controls players can dive right into level selection and the gameplay.

Challenge

Single player, known as Challenge, consists of 20 different ‘time attack’ levels that increase in difficulty as you progress.  Players will find themselves racing against the clock as they fly around a ‘track’ designated by gates.  The objects of these levels are to get as many points as possible.  When flying through consecutive gates there is a multiplier that increases but if a gate is missed then this multiplier drops dramatically so to get the most points don’t miss any gates.  Also every yellow gate is a time bonus and adds more time when cleared.  If 20 yellow gates are cleared without making a mistake, then a mega time bonus gate appears and once cleared returns your time limit to its original state.  These levels start out small and simple but add obstacles, become longer, and get more difficult as you unlock levels.  After every level the player gets a star rating, three being the best and at least one star is needed to unlock the next level.  This is unfortunately the only single player mode and it does not take long to play through all of the levels.  The single player has replay value in the sense that a player can go back and try and achieve 3 stars on all of the levels but so far I have seen no incentive to do so.  I would have really liked to see Broken Rules incorporate a free exploration mode to allow players to really spend some time appreciating all of the details and work that was put into the various environments.  On the flip side though, Broken Rules did include multiplayer in Chasing Aurora and it is a rather robust and fun experience.

Hide & Seek

Multiplayer, known as Tournament, is where Chasing Aurora truly shines.  There are three different game modes in Chasing Aurora, Hide & Seek, Freeze, and Chase.  Chasing Aurora’s multiplayer starts off with a series of tutorials that help players get familiar with the available game mode.  In Hide & Seek the player with the GamePad is flying around as a golden version of their bird and is carrying a shiny gem.  The object of Hide & Seek is for the player controlling the golden bird to avoid the other players by hiding around the environment within the level for the specified time limit.  In Freeze the player with the GamePad is an ice version of their bird and is trying to freeze the other players by ‘tagging’ them.  The players holding the Wii Remotes can unfreeze their comrades by tagging them as well.  The player controlling the ice bird wants to try and freeze all of the other players before the time runs out.  In Chase it is a free for all to be the player to have possession of the gem for the longest period of time.  What makes Chase a little more difficult is that all players share the same screen and if you find yourself outside of the screen then you risk being eliminated for the game.  After the tutorials are completed, the multiplayer really opens up and different combinations of game modes and levels are unlocked.  There is such a variety of combinations in game modes and levels that the multiplayer component of Chasing Aurora can provide hours upon hours of entertainment.  One of my favorite things about the multiplayer in Chasing Aurora is that it does not allow 1 player to hog time on the GamePad.  In between the multiplayer stages Chasing Aurora asks that the GamePad be passed to various players and this ensures that mostly everyone gets some time with a different view of the gameplay.

Freeze

Chasing Aurora is a ton of fun and visually appealing throughout.  There are only a couple small issues I had playing Chasing Aurora the first being the loading time when the game is started up which is pretty long for such a small game.  The other is I wish that Broken Rules would have put as much love and attention into the single player portion of Chasing Aurora as they did with the multiplayer.   The environments throughout Chasing Aurora are beautiful and I would have definitely enjoyed exploring them at my own pace.  Otherwise, Chasing Aurora is great fun to be had with family and friends for a great low price.

Chase