An indie metroidvania with light soul-like elements doesn't sound very new and creative at first. You almost feel so overwhelmed by it that the pure description can at first only elicit a tired yawn in some things. But caution is required here.
Alwa's Legacy would be wronged by a hasty conviction. There is a really good game behind the well-known basic framework, even though this was not completely perfect at some corners and ends.
Source: PC games
In Alwa's Legacy we slip into the skin of a young girl named Zoe. Zoe wakes up one day without memories on a bank in the country of Alwa. She has forgotten where she comes from and how she ended up here. Without really knowing where to go and what to do, we embark on the adventure with Zoe. Finally, the game's villain, Vicar, stands in our way, first robbing us of our weapons.
Shortly thereafter, we meet an older lady named Saga who explains that we have to find three jewels hidden somewhere in Alwa to defeat Vicar and get back home. From here the story takes a back seat and hardly plays a role anymore, basically the game doesn't need this accessory. Only after a boss fight we unlock a new lore entry in a book that Saga gives us. Nevertheless, in the encounters with the numerous and unique characters in Alwa, well-written dialogues unfold again and again, which sometimes have one or the other funny moment ready.
Source: PC games
One of the best qualities of Alwa's Legacy is style, which affects both the look and the sound. In the course of the game we explore many unique and lovingly designed areas in a wonderful 16-bit look. While the predecessor, Alwa's Awakening, optically even more which reminded very early 2D Zeldas, Legacy is a real feast for the eyes of retro lovers. Especially a look past the actual levels in the background can be very worthwhile. From the densely overgrown forest to the breathtaking mountains and the picturesque sunset, everything is represented here.
In addition to the pretty art style, only one thing can convince even more: the great soundtrack. These are chiptune tracks by the internet artist RushJet1, which differ significantly from one another depending on the area. The soundtrack manages to create a real nostalgia feeling that reminds a little of gameboy times, but at the same time the sound is pleasantly modern thanks to deep bass. Also, despite numerous repetitions while exploring an area, the tracks never get really annoying. On the artist’s YouTube channel you can get a small sample of the sound experience in the form of a nine-minute sampler.
Source: PC games
Once we have got a wand and a map, we go with Zoe to hunt for the jewels. On our trip we can always use our wand as a melee weapon, during the game we then unlock various spells and abilities that bring us to new areas. There are a total of three different spells and four skills with which various puzzles have to be solved. With hidden orbs, we can level up every spell, which is not only extremely beneficial for exploration, but also for combat. For example, early in the game we are given the ability to create a green block that we actually use to reach higher areas. By investing a few orbs, the cube can expand spines while we push it, thereby injuring opponents. After a further upgrade, the block can even be hurled like a projectile in the direction of the enemy by a blow with the magic wand.
Within the dungeons, the skills learned must be used wisely in various puzzles. There are always switch puzzles, for example, where we have to activate several platforms at the same time, each of which only responds to a certain spell. Even in the numerous jump passages, it is important to time the spells skillfully and to assess the jumps well, otherwise you are quickly over. Once you get used to the controls, exploring the world should be relatively easy, especially if you have some practice in this genre. All in all, Alwa's Legacy plays well and smoothly, but in the PC version the use of a controller is highly recommended. The keyboard implementation is only moderately good here and the standard key assignment is confusing.
Source: PC games
Unfortunately, there are also some weaknesses in game design. Instead of reaching areas on the intended path, Legacy promises an even more open approach than usual for Metroidvanias by collecting the orbs and leveling up skills. But appearances are deceptive, because when exploring the world there is no real freedom. For example, we can acquire a skill for the named green block that causes it to float on the water. As a result, by diligently collecting orb, we can reach the areas separated by lakes before we have discovered the proposed method of crossing. However, this has no use, as we will lack tools in the next dungeon at the latest to make further progress. So we look for the path we are considering, which in turn makes the unlockable ability completely pointless.
Ultimately, these skills are only a bonus and not a must. In general, you can get along very well in the world of Alwa without the skills, although there are sometimes more difficult challenges. If we go knockout, then we spawn again at visited beacons. This can be frustrating, especially if you have come a long way. There is an option for "Quick Respawn." Then we reappear in full health on the screen where we died. Here we can also set whether all items should be shown on the map. So you can avoid long backtracking and searches if you want to. There are no other options for the level of difficulty, so later boss fights must be fought fairly and honestly. They are not quite like that demanding like the fights in Hollow Knightbut cool designed.