Aurogon Shanghai’s magical Metroidvania launched for PC, Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox on April 25th. Here are a few things you should know before diving into this title.
It’s been a while since our first Afterimage article. Aurogon Snaghai’s first official Metroidvania had already impressed us at that time, but we have to say that the more time passes, the more positive our feelings toward this title become.
The developers’ dedication and affection for the project have resulted in a long development process that has now taken us to the long-awaited release date.
It’s no surprise that Afterimage is one of the most anticipated Metroidvanias in the independent video game scene. A game that has earned the admiration and interest of fans and veterans of the genre.
But, before we start exploring the game, let’s take it slowly. Are you certain you know everything there is to know about Afterimage? If I were you, I wouldn’t be so sure. So, let’s take a deeper look at the game and find out what you should know before playing Aurogon Shanghai’s new title.
Release Date and Platforms
As previously said, Afterimage launched on April 25th for PC and Consoles.
The game, developed by Aurogon Shanghai and published by Modus Games, is available for Nintendo Switch, PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
You may have noticed that a completely free demo of Afterimage was released during the Steam Next Fest. If you wish to delve deeper into the game, now is the time to do it, keyboard in hand.
Do you want to try the demo but aren’t at home? That is not an issue! Download the demo on your Steam Deck and enjoy it on your portable console.
Obviously, I recommend experiencing the demo to get a feel for Afterimage and the type of videogame experience it offers. However, If you already own the game, jump right into it and enjoy the full experience.
Standard or Deluxe Edition?
Afterimage is available in both physical and digital formats. Let’s take a short glance at the game’s contents for each edition:
- Digital Standard Edition: This edition includes the base game. Available for $24,99 at all official digital stores (Nintendo, PlayStation, Steam, and Xbox).
- Digital Deluxe Edition: Exclusively available on Steam for $29.99. This special edition includes the base game, digital artbook, and digital soundtrack, both of which may also be purchased individually for $4.99 each.
- Physical Deluxe Edition: Available for $29.99 on all major platforms. The physical edition includes the base game, digital artbook, digital soundtrack, and a reversible coversheet featuring Renee, the protagonist.
A message to Afterimage’s physical version owners. Make sure to get the Day-One patch. With this patch, the devs improved QoL changes and solved a few minor issues.
To get the most out of Afterimage, I recommend downloading it before starting the game.
Afterimage ran a crowdfunding campaign… And it was a smashing success
I’m not sure whether everyone recalls the Afterimage Kickstarter campaign. An extraordinary success for the developers, with 2573 backers donating to the project, which was successfully 622% funded.
The fans’ response has been overwhelming, so much so that the developers have added and incorporated a slew of new features, including new additional areas, a new playable character, the New Game Plus, an extra ending, and much more.
Let’s take a quick look at at all of the stretch goals that the developers achieved during the Kickstarter campaign:
- Project funded (upon achieving $15,000)
- Additional Areas (upon achieving $20,000)
- Boss Rush Stage (upon achieving $25,000)
- Cutscenes with Dubbing (upon achieving $30,000)
- More Accessories (upon achieving $36,000)
- Additional Class of Weapon (upon achieving $42,000)
- New Game Plus (upon achieving $50,000)
- New Playable Character (upon achieving $60,000)
- Extra Ending (upon achieving $80,000)
Aurogon Shanghai had also set two more optional goals that were sadly not met with the crowdfunding campaign, which are a hidden boss for the Engardin lands (upon achieving $110,000) and another goal that remains unknown (upon achieving $150,000).
Who knows if the devs have opted to include these two additional features in the full release…
The Legend of Engardin
Afterimage’s lore has several crucial keywords that should be learned in order to to better appreciate Renee’s wonderful story and background.
Vitality, prosperity, ruins, memory, and amnesia. What is the connection between these terms?
According to the developers, “It all started in Engardin, a world created by a supreme god. According to the god’s will, it was the primeval goliaths’ duty to preserve the order of Engardin. The world was once full of vitality and prosperity until humans launched a war against the goliaths to plunder all their gifts bestowed by the god.
With humanity’s ever-expanding ambitions, the war swept the whole Engardin. In order to conquer their arch enemy, human performed a forbidden ritual and opened the Gate to the Sea of Souls by force. However, the situation got out of control.
After a sudden explosion, a great flood poured out of the Gate and completely turned the citadel and the human territories into ruins. This sudden catastrophe terminated the war. Those ever-arrogant humans suffered heavy casualties, and the remaining survivors could only get by and wander in the ruins.”
And this is when Renee comes in. An amnesiac girl who seeks to retrieve her memories and uncover the buried mysteries of the past, oblivious of the change she is bringing to this world.
What is the best way to play Afterimage? What approach should you take to the game?
For newcomers to the genre, keep in mind that Afterimage is a beautiful side-scroller hand-drawn Metroidvania with with plenty of action and an outstanding platforming component.
The game emphasizes fast-paced combat with diversified character builds, non-linear levels, and gripping storylines set in a vast and ruined landscape.
Engardin’s world is interconnected, with vast and diverse landscapes teeming with lore-related enemies, spectacular and challenging boss-fights, and one-of-a-kind NPCs. Travel through amazing natural landscapes, explore the kingdom’s monumental buildings and collect knowledge and artifacts about the forgotten past of Engardin.
So, how long does Afterimage last? Your first playthrough will last between 30-35 hours. Obviously, you’ll need a lot more in-game time if you want to get all the endings (including the bonus ending), restart with NG+, and finish all the side quests.
Are you a completionist? Well, keep in mind that you’ll need some extra time to complete the game 100%.
But, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at the key features of Afterimage’s gameplay.
How does the Exploration work?
The amazing success of the Kickstarter campaign has enabled Aurogon Shanghai to make fascinating changes and enhancements to the game, including expanding the explorable sections of Engardin.
Exploration is an important aspect of the gaming experience. Afterimage comprises more than 15 unique areas. Each one features its own background and environment, with lore-related enemies wandering around.
In this regard, despite the massive destruction inflicted by the catastrophe, the flora and fauna of Engardin are remarkably heterogeneous and diverse.
The magnificent infrastructures, regal mansions, and virgin forests. Well, not even the apocalypse could destroy Engardin’s beautiful landscapes.
If you’re looking for a fun platforming component, keep in mind that each area has a unique and intriguing level of difficulty. Have fun hopping across platforms, but keep Renee safe.
Also, remember to travel back through the maps with your new powers and talents to discover new places, forgotten lore, and hidden secret rooms.
Don’t forget to meet and interact with NPCs. Engardin is full with unusual, mystical, and magical characters. Talk, trade with them, or finish their quests to discover more about their backgrounds.
And, before we move on to the following section, a brief mention of the great flood, which caused Engardin to be mostly submerged in water. “Sailing saves you time when you move from region to region. But it’s not just a teleport system in disguise – accidents can occur during navigation, and who knows what will happen? Will it be an ambush, an encounter, or an isolated secret island?”
Your build, your combat style
The RPG component allows the player to customize and build the protagonist by collecting and selecting from over 200 different pieces of equipment, including many main weapon classes, sub-weapon, armor, and accessories.
You can choose your own combat style by selecting several main weapons and sub-weapon. There are six main weapons, each with its own attack move and unique skill.
The sub-weapons are differentiated by function, providing things like fire support, elemental buffs, or additional healing spells. Remember that you can only equip two primary weapons and one sub-weapon at once.
Renee’s spellbook allows her to cast powerful spells that target enemies from afar, allowing her to avoid melee strikes. However, keep an eye on your life and mana bars.
Obviously, as the developers advise, you might test different combinations for a more balanced experience, or you may target on the enemies’ weak points. The choice is up to you.
Upgrades and Skill Tree
Engardin’s world is packed with cruel and fearsome creatures. Afterimage features over 170 different types of enemies, including 30 challenging boss encounters.
That’s why you’ll need to improve and expand Renee’s abilities with powerful upgrades and a dedicated skill tree.
Gain talent points by fighting elite enemies or filling your bestiary. Carefully spend them to fine-tune them to your combat style, boosting your stats, unlocking your weapon skills, and even acquiring some passive abilities.
You can get new equipment by opening chests, completing quests, bargaining with merchants, defeating bosses, and even farming minions! And, as the developers recommend, if you come across an enemy with great equipment, go back, and remember to kill it a few more times to have better success and earn unique items.
And then… There’s cooking. We all know how vital a tasty and invigorating meal is before a battle. Meet the Derricks, a clan of traveling chefs who are searching for the lost recipes of their glorious ancestors. If you bring one, they will honor you with one of their special dishes. Pay attention to their requests, upgrade your abilities, and gain special buffs before you hit the road again.
Art, Style, and Music
The hand-drawn 2D style is, in my opinion, Afterimage’s most charming aspect. Aurogon harmonized the design of the sections frame by frame. The color palette has been delicately dosed, with some contaminations suggestive of Chinese art and folklore.
The artistic concept underlying the kingdom’s development is breathtaking, both while traversing the magnificent external surroundings and in the majestic royal palaces.
“Engardin is a godforsaken land ruined by the catastrophe, with its secrets and relics now buried beneath.”
Afterimage takes place in a medieval fantasy world. The developers’ goal is to build opponents and bosses who feel real, rather than being generated at random and whose sole purpose is to battle you.
I’ll never get tired of saying how the artistic direction beautiful and unforgettable is. You constantly get the impression that each game’s area has its own miniature world, with its own interpreters and originality. Nothing in Afterimage was included by chance. Everything makes sense, whether it’s aesthetic, lore-related, or both.
Afterimage’s style and art do not adhere to a strict dark fantasy art language. The sceneries are always contrasting, which identifies and characterizes creatures, landscapes and enemies. Color contrast is powerful, appealing, magnetic. Renee fits right in, with almost heavenly features that indicate purity.
In terms of inspirations, it is clear that the Castlevania series has had a significant impact, notably in terms of gameplay structure and non-linearity of the game world.
However, we will go through this in greater detail in the following section, thanks to the words of Executive Producer Yang Ziliang.
But I have one more personal opinion to share. When we talk about the protagonist’s purity and her heavenly features, how can Lily from Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights not come to mind?
Don’t consider the game world, the two games’ extremely distinct atmospheres, or the content. Pay attention to Lily and Renee. Something about the two protagonists made me think. There would be aspects of the two’s lore to analyze, beginning with the themes of amnesia, awakening, and lost memory. However, we will have time to explore it separately in the future.
Last but not least, music and sound design. Another commendable effort to increase Afterimage’s already excellent content quality.
Even the sound design and OST in Afterimage are small gems that add an evocative, emotional, and magnificent ambiance to the game. The music contribute to the creation of magnificent atmospheres, ranging from delicate and ethereal to the most frightful and threatening tones that follow legendary boss fights.
The sound design was handmade by industry veterans who have been composing doujin music for over 14 years.
The Aurogon Sound Team composed the entire soundtrack, which includes over 40 unique orchestral compositions made by the team and fully recorded by the International Master Philharmonic Orchestra and other performers.
Did you know that Afterimage isn’t Aurogon Shanghai’s first video game?
Aurogon Shanghai is a video game developer based in Shanghai, China, founded in October 2007. It is a subsidiary of Wangyuan Shengtang.
I mentioned before that Afterimage is their first Metroidvania, however it is not their first project in the video game industry. The developers are well-known for the popular Gujan series, a 3D single-player RPG set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient China. The team is made up of ambitious developers, Metroidvania lovers, passionate retro gamers, and anime and movie fanatics.
Here are a few words from Executive Producer Yang Ziliang:
“I enjoyed Metroidvania when I was a kid. Even when I barely knew about game genres, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night created a lasting impression about what a game could be. After Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, a long time passed until Hollow Knight and the Ori franchise brought Metroidvania to a new level.”
“The impulse to push myself to make a Metroidvania of my own grew stronger day by day.” Ziliang continued. It was amazing that I found my colleagues were Metroidvania lovers too. Thus, we managed to form a team to develop a game we would enjoy ourselves, and we hope you’ll love this hand-crafted love letter from our team to those classic Metroidvanias that inspired us.
Aurogon Shanghai has always been noted for its quality and style. The previous games were a significant teaching tool for the developers, with Legend of Sword in particular providing a valuable experience for learning the various aspects of video game development.
Yang Ziliang concluded, “Although this is the first time we have made a Metroidvania game, we are fully confident we can make it happen.” And we hope that this is just the beginning of Aurogon Shanghai’s illustrious future.
As said before, the success of the Kickstarter campaign and the achievement of many stretch goals enabled Aurogon Shanghai to add a slew of new features, including dubbed cutscenes.
Cutscene with dubbing, interface, and subtitles are only available in English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.
The interface and subtitles are available in 11 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese.
I hope you found this article helpful in learning more about Afterimage and all of its features.
While you wait for our review, you can watch the game’s launch trailer, add it to your wishlist, or play it. If you enjoy Metroidvania games, this is a must-play for a variety of reasons that I will go over in detail in the full review.
Don’t forget to follow us so you don’t miss out on any updates, insights, or news about Aurogon Shanghai’s new video game.
That’s all for today. For additional information on Afterimage and Renee’s fate, please visit the game’s official website.