The template for the journey of a hero can be based upon the observations of anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in 1871. By studying many old and new stories he compared the plots, narratives, and characters, coming up with a template. The hero goes on an adventure because of a call of action (revenge or something shiny), they perform a number of tasks or quests, before reaching a point of crisis, before finally taking victory. And it is here where they come home transformed. Every story, film, and game has this template embedded somewhere inside it and Aritana and the Twin Masks is no different. But come the end of this adventure, will we be transformed like the heroes before us, or does it fail at the final crisis?
Aritana and the Twin Masks is a 3D action-adventure experience that runs very much on the lines of the most recent Zelda games. You have a choice at the start of the adventure about what sex your hero should be, and then you’re propelled into the main story. The game is based on Brazilian mythology – and it has to be said that this is a refreshing change as a setting – focusing its time on our hero who is about to embark on a huge quest. See, you are of direct descent to a god called Nhanderuvuçu, tasked with helping save the tree of life by cleansing several temples infected by some evil tree of life haters.
You start the game with a bow and arrow, and a small jump to utilise. But as you progress through proceedings will then get more abilities like being able to double jump, or the chance to play around with the ability to slow down time for a short period. You also have the opportunity to find recipes dotted about, and these give you the chance to craft items to use; stuff like first aid potions or a temporary shield to use in battle.
Twin Masks consists of three main areas of gameplay. First there is the combat which sees us using the bow and arrow, with you needing to action the odd dodge as you go about fighting back. Enemies come in various forms, like the slow paced giant snail-like monsters that have exploding crystals on their backs that need to be arrowed before they get too close and explode. But there are many trickier guys to contend with, some coming across like giant totem poles with revolving mech wheels across the various levels of the totem. These guys have eyes that shoot projectiles at you, like homing missiles, and in order to stop them you’ll have to nail these eyes to expose the magical brains of the beast. It’s a lot of fun, and I have to admit that the combat works very well overall. Yes it can at times be pretty tricky, particularly when you’re being overwhelmed, but like they say, practice makes perfect.
Away from the combat and this latest Aritana title comes with a decent degree of exploration; it’s a rather lovely part of the game which makes running and climbing around the world a pleasure. As you would expect there are the main story objectives which you can partake in, with these basically consisting of cleansing all evil from the temples. But there are also numerous secrets to be found in the nooks and crannies of the game, and this ensures that it’s always a fun one to explore.
And then there is also a puzzling side to things. Never do these testing times become too tricky though, and you won’t ever find yourself stuck as to what to do next, but Aritana and the Twin Masks will make you scratch your head a few times. These puzzles normally consist of finding different ways to access new areas, or unlock doors by getting rid of the corrupted pathways that are holding you back. Expect to get lost a few times, but never enough to abandon all hope.
Visually and it is all a bit of a mixed bag. At times it can look a bit last generation, whilst scooting round the corner will see Aritana look glorious. The characters are well designed throughout though, and the creature design is pretty amazing. I very much like the world the designers have managed to create too, with a mixture of old fashioned mechanised buildings and magical portals. You can throw in a few cutscenes that are well-produced and even though they are very brief bits of work, they come across well. The soundtrack is good too, and when you enter into combat the music really comes into its own. The actual sound effects that accompany it are great, but I have really felt the lack of any voice over in the cutscenes. It makes me feel like there is something missing and a bit of narrative would have added a little extra to the experience.
When I first started on my journey with Aritana and The Twin Masks on Xbox One, I’ll admit I felt a bit underwhelmed; a bit dismissive as I felt it was something I’d seen a number of times before. But the longer I played the more I became addicted, completely hooked on the gameplay and exploration elements of this game. I have very much enjoyed the challenge of finding all the little secret areas and paths up to the highest of areas, and even though the combat is occasionally annoying, I’ve embraced that too.
In fact, Aritana and the Twin Masks is a great little game to spend some solid hours in the company of and it will certainly make you smile. There are a few problems here and there – and these ensure that it never makes the perfect adventure – but if you’re after something that feels familiar, yet still manages to deliver a very unique world, then please have a bash at Aritana and The Twin Masks.