Arietta of Spirits Review – An Emotional Adventure With Lots of Heart & Some Fundamental Flaws

Developed By: Third Spirit Games

Published By: Red Art Games/Third Spirit Games

Genres: Top-Down Action & Adventure

Top-Down action adventures are one of the oldest genres of games and they were popularized by the legendary Legend of Zelda series. This series manages to create a whole genre on its own and inspire numerous creators to create their own titles within the genre. Today the Legend of Zelda series for the most part has moved onto full 3D titles, but that doesn’t mean the magic of the 2D Top-Down games is gone. Enter Arietta of Spirits who is our newest entrant trying to carve its way into the genre. Let’s see how it fairs today.

Pros

  • Arietta of Spirit’s starts out strong with a meaningful and emotional story. You play as Arietta a young girl who’s taking a trip to her family cottage with her parents. This visit marks one year since her grandmother’s death and the family is still mourning her loss.
  • The first night while asleep Arietta is attacked by spirits in her dream. When it looks as if she may never wake up a light beams down upon her and a spirit named Arco save her.
  • Arco claims to be Arietta’s spirit guide telling her that she’s a Bound, which is a human that can connect between the spirit world and human world.
  • Now with her newfound powers Arietta is sent on a quest to help spirits pass over from the human realm into the spirit realm.
  • Arietta’s story is very emotional and reminds me of a young adult fantasy novel. While the story doesn’t last for too long, it still manages to feel impactful as you watch Arietta grow in this 3-5 hour adventure.
  • Arietta is a nice character who embodies bravery and is always moving forward despite the insane situation that is all of a sudden thrown at her. She’s a character that you want to see succeed and therefore makes you happy to play as her on her journey.
  • Combat is a simple affair that involves swinging a sword imbued with magical energy.
  • As the journey goes on you unlock one new ability, a spirit shield that can cover you and protect you from enemy attacks and projectiles. The shield can also be used to destroy an enemies barrier or to stun them. I think the spirit shield is really intuitive and it was awesome to pull it out at the last minute to completely nullify a stream of projectiles hurling towards me.
  • Enemies come in three different forms, normal enemies, Roamers and bosses
  • Throughout your adventure you will find various everyday animals such as wasps and bats that will attack you.
  • The more advanced enemies come in the form of Roamers. Roamers are evil spirits that are attracted to Arietta because she’s a bound. Roamers resemble actual monsters and drop spiritual essence when destroyed.
  • Bosses are a completely different affair all together and are really the only enemies you can’t simply swing your sword at. Bosses have set patterns of moves that you’ll have to dodge before you can hit them. The boss designs are all unique and really well-designed.
  • Arietta can increase her maximum health and spirit (mana). Instead of collecting items to increase your max health, Arietta collects spirit essence. Spirit essence is gained by defeating Roamers not normal enemies. To capture spirit essence you’ll need to collect a spirit vessel which are gained from defeating bosses. Every spirit vessel has a required number of spirit essence needed to activate it and increase your max health.
  • I have to say this is an interesting way to acquire maximum health and incentivizes fighting enemies and not running away from them.
  • The visuals are an appealing pixel art style and do a great job at mimicking the colorful designs you would see on a SNES or GBA. The bosses are the most appealing designs visually.
  • There’s a soundtrack that changes slightly throughout the games locations and sound effects for when you slash your sword.
  • The game autosaves after entering a new screen and dying never causes you to lose much progress
  • There are a few side quests that provide rewards should you complete them. One of which involves gathering everyday items for a spirit who wants to see them up-close. The quests aren’t much more then simple fetch quest, but they do slightly incentivize exploration
  • Multiple difficulties for accessibility and those who want more of a challenge. I personally recommend playing on Hard mode for a better experience.
  • Over 25 awards and achievements to find.

Neutral

  • While I did enjoy the story for what it was the brevity of it may turn away players looking for a longer narrative.

Cons

  • Some enemy hitboxes are wonky and it’s hard to tell when you’re going to walk into them.
  • The combat is too simple and any non boss fight devolves quickly into getting up close and spamming your sword.
  • Once you have filled your spirit vessel there’s no pickups to incentivize combat and instead of running past them.
  • The environments are practically the same and most are only slight variations of forests and caves.
  • Lack of any real puzzles or dungeons makes the gameplay very repetitive.
  • Far too short on content for the asking price
  • No items that can be used to change up the gameplay or customize your experience
  • Not enough reason to explore nor is there enough to explore.

Summary

Story
Gameplay
Visuals & Sound
Accessibility
Replay Factor/Bang For Your BuckX
Unique Game DesignX

6.5/10

There’s nothing about Arietta of Spirits that makes it a bad game, there are just some fundamental issues that stop it short of being a great game. For those that want to relive the days of top-down action adventures, Arietta of Spirits will definitely scratch that itch, but don’t expect it to stay around too long. Honestly, I think Arietta has a lot going for it and with more time it could have been a truly whimsical journey. The story which is its greatest element really starts picking up just before the game suddenly ends. The developers have seemingly left some room for a possible sequel and if they were to attempt one, they would have plenty of chances to rectify some of the negatives in this review. With some better-polished gameplay and more unique ideas, this could have been a must-play title, but overall I can only give it a cautious recommendation.

Steam Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1140170/Arietta_of_Spirits/

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