The Watch List — Aragami

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A modern take on classic stealth-ninja gaming.

The irony of featuring a stealth game to debut our new feature, The Watch List, is not lost on me. Despite the protagonist’s penchant for remaining unseen, I’ve had my eye on Aragami for quite some time. Originally announced as Twin Souls: Path of the Shadow, I found myself drawn to Aragami’s crisp cel-shaded visual style, a look that developer Lince Works has said was heavily inspired by both Journey and Okami.

You could also argue that Aragami looks like a 3D adaptation of Klei’s fabulous Mark of the Ninja, a game that, along with old-school stealth classics such as Tenchu and Thief, Lince Works has admitted lent inspiration to Aragami’s gameplay. Rather than giving the player a huge toy box of powers with which to brute-force their way through the world, Aragami will offer a more limited set of abilities in order to create a sense of vulnerability and tension.

While these powers may be small in number, they are an important part of the game. As players collect scrolls to level up their ninja, the powers they unlock will lend themselves towards one of two paths: the aptly named Ghost, who thrives by remaining undetected, and the more violent path of the Demon. Early videos revealed the ability to create and manipulate shadows, teleport, and become temporarily invisible. A more recent screenshot shows the inky-black head of a dragon rising from a shadow and biting an unsuspecting guard in half.

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Lince Works wants Aragami to be a challenging game, but not a frustratingly difficult one. Specifically, they want to force the player plan their movements wisely. Whether or not Aragami lives up to its stealthy aspirations will largely depend on the enemy’s AI. Will the guards present a believable obstacle, or will they simply offer a set of predictable and exploitable responses to the player’s actions?

After watching the many videos that Lince Works has posted, I worry the stealth progression loop will quickly become repetitive. And while the world looks beautiful, and presents an authentic (albeit stylized) Japanese aesthetic, the screens released so far present a world that seems limited to stone-palace and green-garden landscapes. I can’t help but wonder whether there will be enough variation in the world.

Fortunately, we should have the answers to these questions soon enough—Aragami is scheduled to release this September for PlayStation 4 and PC.

For more information, check out the Aragami Website, or follow the developer on Twitter.

You can also find Aragamai on Steam.