It feels like it’s pretty much a monthly event to be playing an Aery or Murder Diaries game; two series’ which are made by the same company and have the same gameplay mechanic found within. In fact, there are so many of them that I’ve even started to dream about these worlds.
With regards to the Aery franchise though, I felt the last entry in the series, Aery – Calm Mind – seemed to reuse a lot of old assets and it never attempted anything new. In fact, I longed for a device that could make the bird go a little faster at times. Well, the good news is that my Aery dreams have come true and it’s time to take to the skies once more and enter the world of Aery – Dreamscape.
For those who haven’t played any games in the Aery series, you don’t need to worry because there isn’t an overall story arc that needs to be followed and you won’t be missing out on too much, or be too confused by jumping in now. You basically play as a bird, who is almost a spirit guide floating around different worlds, going through checkpoints. In Dreamscape, you start in a hub world, something which feels like a big office, possibly that of a games development team. In these offices there are rooms with numbers on them – 1 to 12. Each office holds a person and it is these with whom you can enter their minds, taking in their imagination and dreams.
There are twelve different minds you can enter and each of these will take you to twelve different worlds. Each world comes with a little short story about their feelings, about this place and the world. And there’s some decent variety too, with worlds set in World War II battlegrounds, medieval castles and cities with battling monsters. Each place has a different theme and an interesting story to tell, yet none of the worlds are connected in terms of narrative threads. The only thing that does connect is that of the voice-over artist and maybe the themes of dreams and people’s ambitions. It works well and it’s a nice change from the other games in the series.
Gameplay-wise though, things are pretty much the same as before, except for a couple of important details. In Aery you fly around like you would in a normal flight sim game, directing your little spirit bird around the space. You can roll, but rarely will you ever need to. Your aim is to move through checkpoints that are dotted around the levels, with each stage having multiple ones. After you go through each one a piece of narrative will be revealed and once you’ve ticked everything off, the level finishes and you are onto the next world.
The first difference found in Dreamscape though is that as you start in an open hub world, you can tackle any of the worlds, in any order you like. After each world is finished you end up back in the hub world, left to choose your next task. The other new feature is that there are now two speeds of flying to be had, slow and a bit faster with a touch of a button. I have been bemoaning that the pace of the bird needing a new speed shift for ages, because you end up seeing the next checkpoint in the distance and have to wait for an age to get there. This most definitely helps a lot and just gives you another welcome option.
But, there are things I don’t like and one of those is that if you hit a wall or anything solid in the level it doesn’t take you to a checkpoint like in Murder Diaries, but you start from the beginning of the level again; something which isn’t very welcome.
Visually and this Aery feels like it’s had an upgrade, as the worlds seem more complicated and interestingly detailed than before. Personal favourites are the city landscape and medieval times with their mix of the real and the abstract. I enjoyed the office home hub as well; a clever device that enables travel between the different worlds. There are moments of pop-in occurring though – especially in an underwater world where visuals are constantly struggling – but it’s nothing major and never ruins the experience.
Soundwise and you may just find that you’ll need to change the balance of the music and voice-over in the settings, pretty much straight away in order to be able to hear the narrative. I like the music but you’ll mostly want to travel the worlds with just the narration. And that voice acting has been put together by the hardest working audio provider in history, as he seems to do all the work.
Aery is a series that just keeps on coming. For fans, they will enjoy more of the same gameplay in Aery – Dreamscape, but in brand new environments and with some newly added features built-in. If you’ve struggled with these games before then there’s nothing extra here to drag you in, but on the flipside, fans will be in their element.
Aery – Dreamscape is available from the Xbox Store