Barcelona-based Lince Works surprised us in 2016 with the release of Aragami, an excellent third person stealth adventure with an undead ninja at the heart of it. Fast forward five years, and Aragami 2 is here – releasing for PCs and current and last gen consoles. We took at look at the PlayStation 5 version.
Part of what made Aragami so entertaining was that is gave us our ninja fix in the absence of games like Tenchu and a new Ninja Gaiden. The latter had a remaster release not too long ago, but we were eagerly anticipating Aragami 2 for something new and refreshing. It succeeds, at least partially, in delivering upon that promise.
At the heart of Aragami 2’s story campaign is the struggle between the Kurotsuba and Akatsuchi clans, but as with the original game the story delivery plays second fiddle to the gameplay. This is a missed opportunity, because although the gameplay is rock solid it would have been great to have more narrative elements interwoven with it. Perhaps we’re a little spoiled these days, but story aspects in Aragami 2 mostly feel like the classic approach where you got a mission briefing and then were left to it.
Part of that feeling probably comes from the way in which missions are structured as well. You’re free to pick an available one, and when you start it you’re also free to just move around and scout out your approach before jumping into action. Large environments mean there’s plenty of replay value in trying out different avenues, and verticality means you can explore from up high or even start your attacks from there.
Your abilities and options grow as you progress and unlock new attacks, which include the more supernatural Shadow Powers. Some make you more powerful in battle, while others allow for better stealth options or a quick getaway. They also open up previously explored areas with new traversal options, making it fun to replay a mission you’ve already completed. Stealth will be your go-to option, but it’s great to see how in many ways you can explore that option in Aragami 2.
One element of the game that will force you to choose the stealth route is stamina – a factor in every attack or move you make. Because of it, your chances in melee combat quickly shrink, and you’re better suited for a quick kill from the shadows after which you can rest again. To further drive home the point, you also get assessed and rewarded for good ninja behavior at the end of a mission.
Aragami 2 offers a wonderful ninja skillset and solid gameplay, but its open-ended approach helps and hurts the game at the same time. Tackling areas in a multitude of ways is fun, but doesn’t hide the fact that the areas repeat themselves. The narrative isn’t engaging enough to make you forget about it either, so ultimately this is a game best suited for those who prefer gameplay over campaign delivery. Luckily, that gameplay is still excellent, and if you enjoyed the first Aragami you’ll want to play this one as well – even though the audiovisual leap forward isn’t as great as you’d expect on a next gen console.