Ato Review – The Best Metroidvania That You May Have Never Heard Of

Developed By: Tiny Warrior Games
Genres: Action Platformer/Metroidvania

Ato is an Action Platformer/Metroidvania developed by Tiny Warrior Games. In Ato you play as a samurai on a quest to save his wife and child from dark unforeseen forces. This short description may make the game sound like any other basic adventure game, but trust me when I say it isn’t. Ato is a masterpiece of a game that perfectly demonstrates large budgets aren’t required to create a truly enjoyable experience. That being said let’s get on to the review.

Pros

  • Interesting narrative that with no dialogue or spoken word. The entire story is told through sound effects and actions on-screen that create the perfect balance of tension and intriguing moments.
  • Despite the lack of dialogue the main character is interesting and enjoyable to play as.
  • Simple and efficient combat system. The combat is centered around swordfight’s and your sword can be moved in three directions forward, upwards, and downwards. If two sword’s attack in the same direction they will block one another making a very satisfying noise to demonstrate that a parry has been performed.
  • Holding down the attack button allows you to charge up a special attack that acts as a samurai dash-through and slash. This move is incredibly satisfying to use and can be woven into the combat to create exciting combos.
  • There’s a wide range of combat moves that can be learned and used by doing different button inputs. It’s reminiscent of typical 2D fighting game style movements and there are enough to allow every player to create there own moveset (downward thrust attack, parry, etc)
  • Movement in the game feels fantastic and the new options that are received as you progress in the game always add an extra layer of complexity.
  • The Metroidvania elements in the game feel well-implemented. There’s no leveling system but you’re granted new abilities as you move on with the game that allow for deeper exploration.
  • Tight platforming with an array of movement options.
  • Multiple types of meaningful collectibles. There are talismans that increase your max life when three or more are collected, coins that you use to open new rooms once you have gathered enough, and runes that you equip to give you new abilities.
  • Many of the collectibles are locked behind time based minigames (Example: Break the Target) that force you to utilize one of your movement based abilities in an efficient manner. They can be great to test your skills with and you’re always well-rewarded
  • Tons of secret areas and collectibles that are fun to find. Always pay attention to walls and terrains that look out of place. These secrets can involve extra collectibles and even secret boss fights.
  • The map indicates which rooms still have collectibles to find in them, wish is very helpful.
  • Most of the game is centered around exploring and defeating bosses. Almost every boss is completely different from one another with new and interesting skills. Most of them have patterns that can be followed, but each boss fight always brings something new to the table
  • Boss fights also strike a balance of being not too easy, but not too tough that you will be stuck for too long as long as you’re actively paying attention.
  • Ato has multiple difficulty options ranging from Accessible, Experienced and Bushido. Accessible is great for players that are playing a Metroidvania for the first time. There’s also a one hit difficulty for people who like pain.
  • Ato’s pixel art design is some of the best I have ever experienced. The array of colors makes each environment pop and the movement of some of the objects in each environment makes it feel as if the wind is really blowing by right beside me.
  • Ato has 86+ achievements on Steam and is a fantastic game to play for achievement hunters. Someone looking to 100% Ato will be looking at at least 3 playthroughs and likely 15-20 hours of gameplay.
  • The final boss fight is a fantastic test of your skills. You will have to understand the combat system very well in order to succeed. There will be constant attacks that require you to quickly strike in the right direction to avoid defeat.

Neutral

  • For the first half of the game you will be only be platforming and solving basic movement puzzles until you reach a new boss. There are no common enemies to fight at all for the first half of the game and even after that the combat aspect of the game is mostly from the boss fights.
  • Despite the wide range of moves being a positive, I felt many of them were not worth using and my personal combat moveset stayed pretty similar throughout most of the game.

Cons

  • Fast travel is unlocked a little too late into the game and makes early backtracking not really worth it.
  • Some of the secret areas are a little too obscure

Summary

Story
Gameplay
Visuals & Sound
Accessibility
Replay Factor/Bang For Your Buck
Unique Game Design
Ato gets a perfect checklist and has everything you could want in a game

9.0/10

Overall, Alto is a fantastic game for those looking for a heartfelt adventure with riveting combat. One playthrough will run you anywhere from 6-9 hours depending on if you want to collect everything, but it never overstays its welcome. If you enjoy Metroidvania’s or if you’re looking for an entry point into the genre you can’t go wrong with Ato.

Steam Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1096180/Ato/

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