Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom Review

Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom header

Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom wraps up the mystery of a kingdom fallen into ruin in an isometric, perspective-shifting puzzle game. Taking control of Aarik, you have to find a path through the mystery which has seen your father, the King, become bedbound and your mother, the Queen, disappear on her own quest to save the kingdom.

The debut title from Shatterproof Games, Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom uses a number of different mechanisms for its puzzles, including perspective shifting, time manipulation, and object control, allowing for the levels to offer different challenges, though none of them are too difficult to solve. That level simplicity feeds into what appears to be Shatterproof’s aim of creating a relaxing and cosy puzzle game that will entertain rather than tax your brain too much. That isn’t to say there aren’t some headscratchers thrown in, but you should be able to complete the game within a few hours.

The game will draw comparisons to others that have populated the genre, most notably the Monument Valley games, but Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom has a whimsical charm of its own and moments of comedy interspersed throughout. While there is not much dialogue in the game, when it is present it nicely moves the story along and helps build the world just enough to allow you to fill in some of the blanks, but never all of them.

Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom telekinesis

Aarik’s powers come from gems that are embedded in his father’s crown. None of the gems are present at the start of the game, and it is only through going through the levels that each gem is found, unlocking a new power for Aarik to use. The perspective shifting is there from the start. With this you change the angle from which you view the puzzle, and doing so can create paths that Aarik can walk along, or find objects that were previously hidden from view, like the hidden crowns dotted in every level. The first gem you get then allows Aarik to move objects via telekinesis to move objects that help create or open paths up. That is soon followed by the power to turn gears and wheels, then an ability to control robots to get their assistance to solve the more complex puzzles, and changing the course of time to rebuild ruins and shift the sands. Each of these powers compliments the other, with the latter puzzles using a mix of all of these elements to really create fun brain teasers.

You cannot fault the visual design of Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom. It looks lovely with very well thought out puzzles in a vibrantly colourful world. As you traverse the world you see the ruin that has engulfed it, yet there is always this sense of underlying hope that it can be rebuilt and saved. The music is well composed too, lending itself to the relaxing and cosy atmosphere that the game evokes.

Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom environments

While Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom is fun, it is not without some issues and gripes. One of those is how finicky it can be to place objects in the correct place. Even if you think you have everything lined up, you cannot always tell for certain. If you’re wrong the object will go back to where you originally picked it up from. Some feedback in these scenarios would be welcome, even if it is as basic as a click sound to indicate a connection has been made. There is also a puzzle where you need to move barrels out of the way physically to open a path, but there is no animation or prompt that indicates that at first. It was the only time in the game that Aarik had to physically walk into something to move it out of the way. Another bug was movement sounds playing when robots/objects under your control had seized moving.

Summary
Aarik and The Ruined Kingdom is a well crafted and great looking puzzle game that entertains for its 2-3 hour playtime. It is let down by various bugs, like sounds playing unprompted, and the issue of placing objects being more cumbersome than it needs to be. However, for less than £7 it is worth a playthrough if you enjoy perspective shifting puzzle games.
Good
  • Excellent visual design
  • The puzzles are well crafted
  • The powers compliment each other for solving puzzles
Bad
  • Minor bugs that do cause a bit of annoyance
  • No feedback when placing objects
7
Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.

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