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Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom Review (Switch, PC, & MacOS)

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Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom Review

Sure, there have been perspective puzzle adventure games before, like Echochrome, Monument Valley, and Superliminal, to name a few. However, fans of these games still don’t have a vast array of options. Despite this, we’re not looking for just another rehash of games we’ve already played. That's why a lot is riding on Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom to stand out and offer something fresh and exciting.

The game offers a myriad of unique and devious puzzles infused within diverse biomes from castles to deserts to swamps and more. Using the power of your father’s crown, you’ll rotate the world to expose hidden paths and find new routes to reach your goal. By shifting your character’s perspective, you’ll rewind, rework, and repair a broken world. So, is the game worth playing? Let’s find out in our Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom review down below.

Mystery Abounds

King

Far from expectation, Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom does indeed, have a pretty deep story to sink your teeth into. It kicks off with a forlorn young prince who hasn’t seen his father, the king, in ages. The king, it seems, has been asleep for a while now, with Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom giving us no explanation for why he refuses, or cannot seem, to wake up. 

Meanwhile, your mother, the queen, has gone out to find a cure for the king’s mysterious illness. She’s been gone for so long. It comes down to the young prince to embark on a quest to find her. But your quest will be unlike any other, as you gradually discover that your father’s kingdom is in ruin. 

On your quest, you run into your old pet Derek who has succumbed to death. He’s locked up in a cage, with the young prince lamenting how he must have died from starvation. Dark much?

Literally and figuratively, Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom portrays a kingdom in chaos and destruction. Also, no one seems to be present in the kingdom, as you strive to repair all you can. With your father’s crown, you gain special abilities that allow you to repair broken parts of your kingdom and rejuvenate it to its former glory. 

Questions, So Many Questions

overseer

Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom thrives on mystery. There are so many questions you have stepping into the world of Aarik and the fallen kingdom. Why has the king fallen into a deep slumber? Is the reason he’s ill also the cause of the kingdom’s demise? Has the queen been kidnapped? The most urgent of them all, who locked beloved Derek in a cage and left him there to die? 

The game definitely crafts an intriguing story, enough to look forward to the parts of the story locked away in the latter stages. The overarching mysteries do serve their purpose well enough to want to find out more. It’s enough to push you through the stages, even as you scratch your head attempting to figure out the solution to the more complex puzzles.

Switch Up the Camera

aarik

If you’re wondering what a “perspective puzzle” game means, well Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom wastes no time revealing it to you. Or rather, it throws you into the sea to swim with the sharks, crossing fingers you’ll figure your way out. You kick off with movement, which corresponds to your everyday mouse (or controller) buttons. You can move up, down, left, or right. 

The twist comes when you reach a dead-end and get confused about where to go next. That’s where the perspective part of gameplay comes in. Essentially, you’ll need to change your perspective, by clicking on “Q” or “E,” to reveal a hidden path. The key is to move the camera on one plane until you uncover a new route that allows you to reach your goal. 

At first, it can be a little confusing to wrap one’s head around. However, as soon as the dust settles, you begin to enjoy the evidently passionate puzzles the team over at Shatterproof must have dedicated themselves to. It’s a pretty neat twist to perspective puzzle games you may have played before, where changing your character’s perspective allows you to navigate the world in new and clever ways.

Grooving

windmill

As you progress, you’ll unlock more complex puzzles that take a little while to figure out. I must say your playthrough can sometimes grind to a halt. But isn’t that what puzzle games are all about? These types of games aren’t meant to be a quick breeze, and the fact that you sometimes pause to study and reflect on your next move is commendable. Still, gamers looking for a challenge may come off Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom displeased. While tricky, eventually you do learn the ropes and come out swinging.

Sweet Rubies

Gem

To start, you unlock the Ruby of Reconstitution. Once equipped, it allows you to move platforms on the map to their rightful places, and as a result, create new pathways to reach your destination. All the while, you’ll still be shifting perspectives, exploring every possible angle. Thereafter, you unlock more rubies that coincide with the increasing complexity of the levels.

With your new abilities, you begin to not only change perspective but also directly manipulate the environment. Simply moving platforms around blooms into more complex abilities. You begin to manipulate time, allowing you to rewind events. You gain the power to drag and drop objects to mend broken paths. Moreover, you’re free to rotate objects to explore new paths.

While it can sound like a lot, the game unlocks new abilities at a nice pace. It gives you enough time to wrap your head around a new ability before giving you access to a new one. When all your powers and the complexity of the levels come together, Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom stans above the clouds.

Meanwhile, you also collect gems that are like hidden collectibles on your journey. By shifting the perspectives of your character, you’re able to pinpoint their locations, allowing you to scoop them up. Unfortunately, the gems don’t do much to affect the outcome of the story. All they do is provide the means to upgrade your abilities. 

Keep it Spicy

prince

It’s exciting that you switch characters to the queen later in the game. In turn, your perspective changes, ushering in a new set of puzzles and even surroundings. For a moment there, I thought the blue background was permanently present until the latter levels switched it up to add more vibrant color and detail. 

Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom’s visuals may not be the best. They could use a little more polish. However, they are diverse enough, to include castles, forests, swamps, and more. The various biomes are further accentuated by background music and sound effects. 

The music, however, can use more soothing tunes to immerse you into the relaxing playthrough Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom offers. 

Cons

Castle - Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom Review

At times, clickable objects can fail to respond, forcing you to engage in ferocious button mashing until something gives. When clicking on the right spot doesn’t work, you can find yourself clicking everywhere, multiple times. The mouse controls sure can feel finicky. 

However, in the moments when Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom is buggy, they come and go quickly enough to avoid detracting you from your playthrough.

Meanwhile, being able to shift perspectives on one plane only can feel limiting. It’d have been grand if Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom expanded perspectives beyond turning the camera left and right on an isometric plane. 

Verdict

island - Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom Review

It’s easy to jump to conclusions when you first set eyes on Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom. Right off the bat, you can tell Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom is a low-budget game. The mouse controls will begin to fight you back. Something about movement just feels stiff, exacerbated by the fact that some clickable items in the game fail to respond. Moreover, it doesn’t look perfect, with visuals that can use a little more polish and environments that can use more intricate detail.

Still, beyond the drawbacks here and there, at its core, Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom stans beyond measure. The more you play, the more it becomes apparent just how much passion Shatterproof Games must have thrown into developing the game. It’s an interesting take on perspective games, allowing you to spin the camera to reveal hidden paths. But even more so, allowing you to manipulate the environment, mending its broken parts anew. 

Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom, overall, offers a decent story that motivates you to find out more. It crafts simple but challenging puzzles that grow in complexity over time. All the while, you’ll spend your time thinking outside the box, assessing every possible scenario that leads you to reach your goal. You can now get a copy of the game on PC via Steam at a 20% discount price of $6.39. Nintendo Switch owners, unfortunately, will have to wait a bit longer to try this one out.

Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom Review (Switch, PC, & MacOS)

Beat Perspective Puzzles. Reconcile Your Family

Aarik and the Ruined Kingdom offers a unique twist to the core perspective puzzle-solving mechanic of games like Echochrome and Monument Valley. It takes you to a kingdom in chaos, casting you in the shoes of a young prince determined to reconcile his family while putting his father’s kingdom back together. The overall game takes around two hours to beat, which, for the most part, will feel like a breeze. You enjoy engaging gameplay that adds complexity and new abilities at a reasonable pace. All the while, an overarching mystery looms in the background. 

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.