The legacy lives on!
Some games just belong on particular platforms, and Alwa’s Legacy feels right at home on the Switch. A colorful retro-inspired title that can’t decide if it wants to be a platformer or a metroidvania, Alwa’s Legacy transported me back to the days of my childhood with its paired-down mechanics, simple gameplay, and straightforward plot. Yet it showed some evolution in the field with its puzzle-oriented levels, fleshed out characters, and non-linear experience. And with a dazzling color palette and glorious chiptune soundtrack to boot, Alwa’s Legacy is a delightful “modern retro game” that will please both veterans and newcomers alike.
Developed and self-published by Swedish dev team Elden Pixels, Alwa’s Legacy was made possible by 924 backers on Kickstarter who donated 290,369 SEK (~32,508 USD) to see the project come to fruition. A sequel to the original title, Alwa’s Awakening, Alwa’s Legacy was originally released on PC back in June of this year. Coming to the Switch feels less like a port and more like an homage to the greats of the genre who graced the Nintendo consoles of yesteryear, and just watching the trailer will surely show players why.
Alwa’s Legacy opens up our heroine, Zoe, waking up in Alwa with no memory of how she got there. Her only lead is a young girl asking her to navigate the dangerous dungeons in search of an old woman who has called for her. Armed only with her wand and her wits, Zoe finds her way through the skeleton-filled caverns when, suddenly, she’s attacked by a mysterious figure named Vicar, who declares that she won’t get the best of him this time. As Zoe is suffering from amnesia, she has no idea what he means by this, and Vicar takes this opportunity to strike Zoe down while she’s confused. Losing her wand, she falls, deeper and deeper, into the depths of the dungeons below.
After some careful maneuvering, she recovers her wand and makes her way to the nearest town. There she spots the old woman, who points gives her a big ‘ol book and tells her to find some magical artifacts. Zoe then sets off into the world, still unsure about who she is and how she got to Alwa, hoping that her adventure will yield some answers.
Alwa’s Legacy features some fantastic aesthetics that really please — both visually and audibly. The colors seriously POP in a way that I feel like will give older players serious nostalgia. I was reminded of several games from my past that I thought were just as colorful, going as far as to google them before realizing that my mind’s eye was kinder than reality. I couldn’t get over the sweeping backgrounds and vibrant scenery, falling in love with each pixel as gameplay progressed. And that soundtrack? PHEW! I would often let Zoe stand still for extended moments just to take in all its 8-bit glory. Definitely head and shoulders above other retro-inspired titles and the composer deserves all praise!
In terms of gameplay, I found Alwa’s Legacy to be a tale of juxtaposition — as far as mechanics go, it lends itself quite well to the era it was inspired by, but as far as gameplay itself, it feels a lot more modern. Zoe only has a few things she can actually do; either run, jump, swing her staff, or use three varied powers that she picks up along the way, but what she does with them is clever, as Alwa’s Legacy is more about solving puzzles than initially meets the eye. An early on example is a tough-looking enemy that packs a pretty punch, but by conjuring a green block and dropping it from a fair height, Zoe is able to destroy it immediately. The entire game is filled with examples like this, so be sure to have your thinking cap on while playing Alwa’s Legacy.
Unfortunately, there are a few issues with Alwa’s Legacy, most notably its story. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and I don’t think playing the first game, Alwa’s Awakening, is going to help answer any questions. The premise is straightforward enough, but it doesn’t really go anywhere logical, and I was really hoping for more closure on Zoe. Perhaps a third installation will handle? Here’s to hoping!
Additionally, I found that difficulty progression was fine up until the last hour or two of the game, in which case it just ramped up like crazy. As much as I love retro games, I have little patience for dying over and over again since the fun aspect just plummets, so I found the last bit of the game to be a slog more than anything. Still, it’s kind of what retro games are known for, so it can’t take too much of a hit for such a design choice.
Retro gamers, rejoice! Alwa’s Legacy is finally available on the Nintendo Switch, and boy does it feel good being here. If you have a Pro controller, do not hesitate to hook this bad boy up to the TV and play like you’re a kid again. Alwa’s Legacy will remind you of days gone by, when renting a game from Blockbuster and trying to beat it within a few days to avoid racking up crazy prices was the thing to do, and with pizza in one hand and drink of choice in the other, you really can’t go wrong making a retro night out of this. Be sure to check out Alwa’s Legacy for a fresh game with a familiar feel.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC, Switch (reviewed); Publisher: Elden Pixels; Developer: Elden Pixels; Players: 1; Released: September 29, 2020; MSRP: $17.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a copy of Alwa’s Legacy given to HeyPoorPlayer by the developer.