Our Airoheart Review will take a look at this new puzzle pixel adventure in detail and give you our verdict on whether its a game you should consider playing! It was released on almost every major platform on 30th September including Steam, PS4/PS5, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Airoheart is an adventure puzzle game created with cute pixel graphics in which you travel the world looking for shards of a mysterious soulstone. There are lots of hidden elements in the game that require you to figure out with very little hand-holding, making this game very much a throwback to old RPGs with strange mechanics that are not always intuitive.
You play as Airoheart, a Breton who lives amongst Elmers who are on the precipice of war with each other. Your journey starts with a mysterious voice talking to you, encouraging you to go on an adventure. The opening chapter of the game introduces you to the backbone of the story: a soulshard that was used to imprison an evil Breton sorcerer is being searched for by both sides of the war. It was split into several relics, hidden in dungeons throughout the world and your task is to go and discover these.
Between Dungeons there are sidequests and hidden areas that you can discover. These will unlock new equipment, runes and rare items you'll need for crafting. The game becomes easier if you do take on a few sidequests, giving you more strength and health to take down the dungeons.
The dungeons themselves are the main pull of the game. Each one is a puzzle, and you have to figure out how to obtain keys to unlock a final boss waiting for you at the end of each one. Each boss also has their own mechanics and you'll have to figure out how to get past each one without just using brute force.
With each dungeon you unlock, you gain new abilities, which open up more of the world. From being able to perform dodge-rolls to get across dangerous cliffs, to being able to throw huge boulders unlocking new routes that were previously blocked. It makes the world very intriguing for you to go back on yourself in case you missed anything that is now discoverable.
The story progresses as you recover more relics and you also find out tidbits of information from NPCs along the way. It is not the most compelling story ever, and in fact, a lot of cliche tropes are thrown in make it feel quite stale and boring. It's easy and simple to understand, and you are curious about where the game is going as you unlock more and more dungeons. But you won't really care about any of the characters apart from Airoheart himself.
Airoheart does have a solid gameplay base, but it lacks clarity and intuitiveness in a lot of different aspects that will make it frustrating for players.
The UI can be frustrating to use. Your Inventory is very difficult to navigate and quite clunky; each page in your Inventory helps to break up the flow of information, but it falls short in terms of visiblity. Your Quest log is quite a mess- you might speak to an NPC and it get logged in your quest page, but you'll have a hard time remembering who the original NPC was or where they were located when you spoke to them.
Combat can also feel clunky. The hitbox detection doesn't feel smoth with the sword animation and it will take some getting used to. This clunkiness does add to the challenge, however, making some simple enemies be quite difficult to take on. For the most part, you'll be using your sword to just madly swipe at enemies but you do also get to use a Rune Staff to cast various magic to aid you in battle (though it is limited by your mana orbs). For the most part you'll be dodging boss mechanics and waiting for the perfect time to strike.
The dungeons themselves are the best part of the game. You can tell the developers really put a lot of effort into making each one progressively more difficult, with new interesting mechanics added to each one.
Unfortunately, the dungeons are let down by how dark the game is. It can be really difficult to play the game when you enter a dungeon due to how little light there is. You just have to look at some of our screenshots in our walkthroughs to get a feel at how dark everything is. We even had to pull down the blinds just so we could see what was happening on our screens!
The sidequests in the game are not intuitive at all. There are several areas of the game that you might discover by accident, but there are no obvious quest markers or gameplay mechanics to help you find what you're looking for. It adds to the difficulty for sure- but you can waste hours looking in the wrong area with no reward. You also have this feeling of being concerned you're leaving progression behind by attempting the next dungeons without properly going back to explore for Melon Hearts or missed Runes- because they do make a difference when taking on the end-game bosses.
One other aspect that is quite irritating is that when you speak to an NPC, you have to continuously talk to them over and over to get the full story. It's another aspect of the game that isn't intuitive to game standards of today and about sums up the frustration with it.
Music and Art
Pixel games are very popular right now and no longer are they associated with poor quality games thanks to the likes of Stardew Valley, Terraria and more. We've played some great pixel games this year, including Coromon!
Airoheart's pixel quality is very cute and the world evolves into new areas as you progress, allowing for new unique assets to pop up and be interesting. The character art models are not perfect- it can be hard to tell what reaction the characters are giving when playing through the story. The Pixel UI isn't great either and could do with some polishing to make it less of an eyesore.
The game's music is good too; there aren't too many tracks that you would say stand out but there's nothing that makes you want to mute the game. Certain areas of the game will restart a track from the beginning, despite it already playing, so that can feel annoying- but that is more of a gameplay feature.
We definitely like the boss music and dungeon music and it helps give off an atmosphere akin to tomb raiding.
Airoheart Overall Impressions
Overall, Airoheart is a fun game to play. It's just unfortunate that it lacks polish in lots of areas that let it down, causing frustration and friction. The most enjoyable aspect of the game (dungeon puzzle solving) is let down by lighting and combat just feels off from lack of hitbox detection. A lot of these things are easy fixes, and probably should have been caught in beta-testing.
Props to the team for getting the game released on all major platforms at once, something that can be very difficult for smaller teams. Hopefully some of the elements that let the game down can be improved upon with patches in future versions.