I have to be honest with you and say that I was not expecting to be as surprised as I ended up being with this game. We usually go through quite a big “judging” process before requesting certain games to provide press coverage for and Trials Of Azra really intrigued us with its gameplay mechanics description. It is everything it says it is, and even more sometimes.
Onion Core brings us the adventures of Azra, a boy who after playing in his backyard with his dog, he suddenly gets teleported to another dimension. This is where the player gets to learn the first few platforming tricks in his disposal. Simply enough, we can walk around and jump, shoot some magic thingies from our hands, but more importantly, we can control the dead. As soon as an enemy is dead, we can walk over his corpse and take control of him. This opens up myriads of possibilities and various puzzles were created exactly because of that reason in Trials Of Azra.
This is of course a mechanic that has been explored by other games too but in Trials Of Azra, we get to experience it in a much more basic level. We are not bedazzled by amazing graphics, but instead we are forced to think, more than in other puzzle games at least, in order to solve the puzzles and move to the next area. All of the enemies of course play a unique role in all of this, since they all have special abilities too. Some jump high, some throw fire, and others are huge giants which we can stand on while they are moving us (which we are controlling because we killed them.) It’s amazing how many combinations there are with such a small and unique cast of enemies in Trials Of Azra.
The looks of the game are not its strongest point, but not its weakest either. As I already mentioned, it really is a minimalistic puzzle platformer and it seems as if the developers of the game decided to focus more on the puzzles in it, rather than how it looks. Same goes for the sounds, since they are nothing special. The story of the game is not very interesting but does have a nice plot-twist in the end. Most of the game goes silent though, with some caped guy saying some silly stuff here and there.
The puzzles though, are refreshing and generally very well made. They are so well made, that sometimes you make mistakes and you start getting frustrated at how badly developed the game is (which is not). Just like that one time I got stuck at a level that I thought I had tried everything and nothing worked. I eventually ended up e-mailing the developers about that, and they told me that I just had to aim upwards. I thought I had tried that, but this is what the game does to you. It breaks you. Both you and your brain.
The game has quite a few areas and stages within those areas so you could be looking at, at least a couple full evenings before you can complete all of it. Even then, it is not the kind of the game you can just sit through in one go, since many times you might feel mentally tired and you will end up just getting stuck at the same place without being able to understand what you have to do exactly.
Trials of Azra is available on Steam for 9,99€.
Although it may seem as your standard, cheap-ish game that just gives you a few platforming challenges, Trials Of Azra will pleasantly surprise you with a bunch of well thought out puzzles that make use of various mechanics that you discover for yourself. Definitely a game that puzzle platformer fans will really enjoy.
+ Interesting mechanic of controlling the dead
+ Difficult and refreshing puzzles in each area
– The game’s visuals and audio do not really leave you in awe
Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis