I do love a good non-linear action adventure and Alwa's Legacy has everything it needs to be enjoyed. Note: key provided by the developer.
Released today, June 17 after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2019 from developer Elden Pixels it sort-of acts as a follow-up to the previous game Alwa's Awakening. It's entirely standalone though and can be enjoyed without playing the other. While they stuck with pixel-art to keep it retro, style wise and graphically Alwa's Legacy is a big colourful improvement and a joy to play and it feels very much like a metroidvania.
The developers say it gives a "contemporary" take on the metroidvania genre, so it takes ideas from actual retro games but throws in some modern enhancements. Things like modern lighting and visual effects, with a little less of a frustration factor that you might find in older games. Part of what's made it nice to play through for me personally is the easy save system. Save points are generously given and you can re-spawn instantly after death and it even asks you if you want to tweak how that works after a couple deaths.
"The decision to go full time into game development to make a sequel to Alwa’s Awakening has been very satisfying. Alwa’s Legacy is the great game we’ve always wanted to make with it’s diverse skill tree, expansive level design and gorgeous 16-bit style graphics," said Mikael Forslind, Game Designer for Elden Pixels. "We’ve put everything into making Alwa’s Legacy the best it can be. We can’t wait for the fans to get their hands on it after all their support."
What I like most though is that there's no real sense of pressure for most of it. Difficult in places of course, some platforming needs good finger-work too but I never felt panicked with it. The magic system is definitely a feature that helps there. As you progress you get access to a few powers like creating a block to jump from or push a button or a bubble to help you reach places.
You don't run out of mana for them either as it just regenerates, so there's no rush to get it right and you can just keep on trying and exploring until you get the solution to access each new area. They managed to get a good balance of all things in Alwa's Legacy. Expanding on the save system mentioned earlier to for a moment, when you do manage to unlock something like a passage way or a ladder, if you instantly die after it's still unlocked for you so there's no constant aggravating progress loss like seen in other similar games.
Like any good non-linear exploration game there's plenty of secrets too, some of which I quite literally fell into. Some of the interactions involved are quite cleverly done too with the limited game mechanics. Taking out enemies right away isn't always the best idea, as I found out eventually when trying to access a new are, sometimes you need to make them work for you…
Alwa's Legacy is a charming blend of high quality pixel-art, some fun puzzles, tricky platforming at times and it's a lot of fun. You can buy Alwa's Legacy on GOG which gives you the previous game too and Steam now.