Aeon Drive | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: 2Awesome Studio
  • Publisher: Critical Reflex
  • Release Date: 30/9/2021
  • Price: £10.99 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Critical Reflex

Introducing: Aeon Drive Review

If we could turn back time, would we? It’s a concept I’m sure many of us have pondered upon, regardless of our reasons. What if we could only go back in time for 30 seconds? Would it still be worth it? In those 30 seconds, we could completely change everything that just happened, but would it matter? Sometimes, 30 seconds is all we need to save the world as we know it. Pretty heavy, I know. Aeon Drive plays with this idea, making this challenging idea way more fun than most of our 30 seconds would be. But is it enough to secure a purchase? Continue reading in our review of Aeon Drive on the Nintendo Switch.

If I Could Turn Back Time!

Aeon Drive presents us with Jackelyne, a lone warrior trying to flee a war through some tricky interstellar travel. Upon jumping though a portal, her ship sustains massive damage and crash lands in Neo Barcelona, placing everyone in the vicinity in danger! You see, Jackie’s ship lost all of it’s drive cores which keep it from going nuclear. Luckily, her AI companion can create a time loop for 30 seconds, which will give Jackie the ability to traverse the bustling metropolis to get the cores and keep her surroundings from going up in flames.

The story is simple enough and never gets in the way of the game, which is great! Aside from the beginning cutscenes, more story is spoon fed to the player after clearing every two worlds and continues this flow until world 10 is finished. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but an interesting letdown that I didn’t see coming.

Time Waits For No One

Aeon Drive shines not in the story department, but in its frenetic platforming action! Jackelyne controls like a dream. She can jump, wall jump, slide, slash, and teleport! Her teleport ability comes from her AI friend who is thrown like a shuriken. Once it hits a wall, you can transport to it, bypassing dangerous obstacles or just shaving seconds off your run. This is vital as each level must be finished in 30 seconds or less.

The objective of each level consists of getting Jackie to the exit while also collecting as many drive cores as possible. These cores allow you to extend the clock by five seconds, once you collect a predetermined number. This can be extremely useful in later levels as the obstacles thrown at you become very harrowing. The difficulty in world 10 takes a hefty spike, which was welcomed, as some of the earlier stages were easy.

Most stages offer multiple paths to victory, which allows for more exploration to see which route is the quickest for your style of play. Hidden collectibles and gems are also scattered around the levels. While each level contains a gem, not every level contains a unique collectible, but it was quite humorous when I discovered a floating hotdog in one of the crevices of the stages.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Sadly, there are no boss fights or big set pieces to break up the levels. Meaning, once you beat the 100th level, that’s it. It is bittersweet for me, as I want games to have a nice capstone in the form of a boss fight, but the developers have doubled down on the idea that this isn’t that type of game. Since there are no boss fights, it certainly flows better and feels more organic.

Playing in multiplayer can be chaotic. I was only able to test with two players, but the title supports up to four player couch co-op. Characters share the cores collected, which means, with multiple characters, it is possible to collect all the cores in a single area and still get out in 30 seconds. Also, if one character reaches the exit, all characters are instantly teleported out. I prefer this in single player, but it is a nice option to have, especially with the lack of couch co-op in so many games these days.

Time Is On My Side

I have been, and probably always will, be a sucker for clean pixel art. The artists behind Aeon Drive have created a lovely world in Neo Barcelona and each of the 10 worlds have a different vibe and color palate. This attention to detail allows each of the 100 stages to both feel different in gameplay and style. The attention to detail continues onto Jackelyne as the player can choose from multiple palate swaps to get the version that best suits them.

The audio in Aeon Drive is filled with glorious cyber punk tunes. While I feel like cyber punk is becoming the new norm in game development, I still haven’t grown weary of it! The voice acting present is also a nice treat! Hearing the back-and-forth banter between Jackie and her AI is quite humorous.

Good Times Roll

Playing Aeon Drive in both handheld and TV mode presented zero issues. This game handled extremely well regardless of the setup. I preferred it in TV mode as I was able to admire the pixel art in its full glory and play it with a Pro controller. Ultimately, it will be up to the player on what they want, but you can’t go wrong with either option.

Final Thoughts

While in a completely different package and style than something like Super Meat Boy, it definitely shares many similarities to the quintessential indie darling. Countless amounts of levels? Hidden collectibles? Infinite lives? Race the clock to get the best time? This is a hardcore 2D platformer without the high levels of absurdity found in Meatboy. It is much more manageable and can be completed from start to finish in a few short play periods (or one, if you have the time, you madman you)! All in all, the value found in this package makes it well worth the asking price.

Pros

  • Cyberpunk pixel goodness
  • Loads of levels
  • Precise controls

Cons

  • Game is a bit short
  • Anti-climactic end

Verdict

Aeon Drive is a fresh take on platformers with a score attack mentality and some slick visuals.