Aetheris is a horizontal rolling roguelite with an emphasis on narration, which we saw during the last issue of AG French Direct. First draft of Wild Wits game, the Breton development studio made up of a dozen enthusiasts, invites us on a journey into the unknown of the wild lands, to save your village from a threat that lies outside of you. You follow the adventures of 4 characters with a lizard-like design, who will have to make choices during their meetings and fight if necessary. Through this overview, we dissect an original and refreshing concept.
Preview Conditions: On the occasion of AG French Direct, we were able to spend a few hours with our 4 heroes on PC while waiting for an “when ready” release.
The lizard community
A shadow approaches your village. It goes slowly down the mountain and the few soldiers sent for reconnaissance have never returned after their cries that have resounded in the valley. The shadow continues its path, everyone agrees: we must go.
The 4 accomplices that you want to embody then leave as scouts in the wild lands to mark the way to an inevitable escape. These wild lands are aptly named, strewn with pitfalls and demonic monsters just waiting to devour you.
Context installed, select the name and properties of your 4 companions. Rational, Brute, Empathic and Mysterious, so many traits that will define everyone’s fighting skills, as well as the chances of success for the many choices you will have to make along the way.
One behind the other
IN Aetheris, you do not directly control your small business. The screen rolls for you and allows you to admire your budding scouts during their journey, as well as the colorful landscape they trudge in. Absolutely contemplative, we will only regain control of the game when asked to make a choice.
Like the “books where you are the hero”, you will encounter various events on your way and 4 choices will be offered to you. Each is associated with a primary trait (Rough, Empathic, Mysterious, or Rational), and the success rate of your decision will be linked to the first lizard in your line. In case of accident you will suffer different and varied penalties for the upcoming matches. If you are lucky, you will receive bonuses that will help you on your journey.
After each decision, the individual file turns over and the first one in your group ends last. This rotation of characters, and ultimately of personalities, will ensure a constant diversity of situations encountered and ways to resolve them. We may find ourselves in a situation where a meeting at first glance kindly degenerates, given the psychopathic personality of the first in the race.
Occasionally, Aetheris will ask you to take up arms to defeat the threats from the desert. The battles take place on a turn-by-turn basis on a chessboard where you will move your units square by square, a bit like a Heroes of Might and Magic. Each of your lizards has skills specific to their main character traits and the passive cards / skill cards associated with it are drawn at random each time they level up.
Bullying skills will be aggressive, while rationality skills will focus on crowd management and critical hit chances. We will regularly find new equipment after each match to equip our travelers with weapons and accessories with various stats so they can specialize in one area.
At the beginning of each round, the dice are rolled to determine the order of action for all the characters present on the battlefield. Of course, you can improve this component by increasing the “initiative” statistics for your lizards. Be careful, any death for one of them is final and the unlucky one will be replaced by a new level 1 discoverer.
The little set for the perfect traveler
The battles are often very difficult, and the death of your little protégés is almost inevitable. Every decision is heavy with consequences, you will have to pay close attention to the characteristics of your lizards and seek the best synergies for your team. Character sheets that are rich in statistics, we look forward to personalizing the members of our unshakable society. We become attached to them in spite of ourselves before we mourn their loss, which reinforces our desire to reach the end of the journey with one and the same troop, which is not an easy task.
By skillfully combining roguelite, RPG and storytelling, Aetheris proved to be a gripping and very refreshing experience. Its unique and colorful artistic touch gives it a unique and captivating cachet, and its intersecting rhythm alternating narrative, choice, personalization and struggle has made us forget our watch.
There are a few readability issues on the battlefield, including characters overlapping or hiding each other. This version is only a preview of the title, which is a bit advanced in its development, we will be careful not to draw hasty conclusions, the few problems encountered have nothing irreparable. We can not wait to see Aetheris expand and, we hope, confirm these first good impressions.