31/03/2018

☆ Review: Ayo: A Rain Tale - "Your Greatest Enemy is The Camera" ☆ #IndieGame #GameDev

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Game Title: Ayo: A Rain Tale
Developer: Inkline Ltd
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Rating: Melting
In platform video games, you can often tell within a few minutes if there are going to be serious issues as it all boils down to responsive controls, if you are looking to spend several hours leaping around a game world that relies heavily on hand-eye coordination and it doesn’t feel accurate or natural, at best the game will never reach its full potential and at the worst, the player will give up out of frustration. 


Unfortunately, due to some loose controls and infuriating design choices that hampered my enjoyment of Ayo, I was closer to the latter camp.
Ayo is the story of a small girl in an African village that is sent on a journey to find water for her family. Presented in a stunning 2.5D style, we take control of Ayo as she struggles to find a water source in the stark desert-scape of her home.
The graphics are the games’ strongest point, most animation is smooth and the sense of scale in the outdoor sections are striking and really set the mood of the game, hope against harsh odds. 

The short cut-scenes are handled with grace and aside from some plain underground sections, the game is a joy to look at. Moving on to the audio in Ayo, it’s sadly not as impressive as the visuals, with a strange ‘thud’ sound effect every time that you climb up a platform regardless of what it’s made of and little else of note. The occasional bursts of music are reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot but aren’t used as often as they should be, meaning that for a large portion of the game you are walking in near-silence with only background incidental sounds as company, it makes the game feel quite empty, especially as we come on to the games’ biggest issue…

The controls...

The greatest enemy in Ayo are not the scorpions you come across, the fire-lizards or the huge snake boss or the lava pits…it’s the jump mechanics and the camera. 

The camera zooms in and out depending on the size of the area that Ayo is currently in, it works for the most part at the start of the game but as the levels (there are ten in total) get more complicated and require precision, the erratic camera means that far too often you’ll be making blind jumps or walking straight into enemies that collide with you at the edge of the screen, resulting in cheap deaths.


I must have muttered “that was cheap” through clenched teeth well over twenty times as I died again and again due to various things, the jump button not being perfectly responsive for some (at one point I genuinely thought there was something wrong with my controller as I was just walking off the edge of platforms), the camera resulting in death from blind jumps for others and there were also some cheap deaths from awkward enemy placement. There was a section at the final part of the game that I nearly gave up on, it’s set in a massive tree high above the ground which is beautifully drawn but it’s impossible to tell which part of the tree is foreground and what is background and so I wasn’t sure where I could jump from or where I could jump to. On top of this, there are clouds of flies that knock you down upon touching you and they ‘home in’ on your character. Whilst they were after me I was on collapsing platforms (the game over-uses these) and there were RANDOMISED lightning strikes hitting the platforms around me, so I died multiple times (the game gives you infinite lives and has a fair checkpoint system) because I was standing on a platform that was collapsing and I couldn’t move forward because lightning was striking the platform that I was jumping towards and all the while there are clouds of flies moving towards me that may knock me to my death even if I’m lucky enough to miss the lightning!


I’m always dubious whenever a random factor is introduced in a game (I look at you, Alien Isolation) but the lightning strikes in Ayo really got to me because it was totally out of my hands and resulted in a chain of unavoidable deaths (coincidentally the name of my metal album). This level leads to the final section of the game which is a chase scene that feels like it goes on for about twenty minutes. Again,  the design of the level (rolling dark clouds over black platforms with a dark background) means it’s difficult to see where you can and can’t land, so you’ll quite often leap to your death through no fault of your own. It’s irritating, it is.
I know it reads like I’m really beating on this game and it’s only £6.99, so not a full-price title but I can’t express how much these niggles run throughout the game and really reduce its impact. There is a point in the game where you are in the blazing desert heat and Ayo is staggering along, fading in the sun and desperately trying to find shade and the strength to carry on. This was the only time that I had any emotional connection to her throughout the entire story because I wasn’t being distracted by the issues above; it’s a real shame as I ended up having a sense of frustration as opposed to sympathy with her journey.

There are some nice touches in the game, the fact that you unlock new skills by finding huge animal sculptures that allow you to dig or double-jump etc but as I’d recently reviewed Shu, Ayo seemed to pale in comparison. A lot of the gameplay is quite similar down to the music and unlockable skills but Shu was much more responsive and fluid.




Summary:
Ultimately it was with a sense of relief that I finished Ayo, there are some clever puzzles, great artwork and fun moments but they are all too frequently let down by slightly loose controls and an unfair camera, unless these are fixed in upcoming patches, it’s hard to recommend this as a must-play title although it is a valiant first release from Inkline, hopefully, these issues will be ironed out on their future titles.

💧❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️💧


Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt