LifeisXbox’s Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards review | If you weren’t already excited about it almost being weekend, I got another something to get you hyped; a new Switch review! This time we’ll take a closer look at Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards, a game developed by Digiart Interactive and N-Fusion Interactive. Following the comic book series “The World of Aluna”, co-written by the writers of the Assassins Creed and Batman: Arkham Origins games, you play as Aluna as she tries to defend her powers from the evils that seek to destroy her in the 16th Century New World.
Created by Paula Garces and Antonio Hernandez in response to the underrepresentation of both Latin and female superheroes in the entertainment industry, Aluna went on to become a cult hit and is currently starring in the ongoing comic book saga called The World of Aluna.
We played Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards for 6 hours on the Nintendo Switch. This game is also available on Xbox One, Steam, and PlayStation 4.
What we liked!
- Graphics | This is a game that costs you 16 Euros so I wasn’t expecting jaw-dropping graphics. And I didn’t get them either, fair enough. However, the art style that Aluna does offer, is quite beautiful. I enjoyed looking at my surroundings (even though I saw them again and again and again, as you’ll read a little further). It is also in the graphics that the comic book influences shine through. The game starts with comic book-like cutscenes explaining the story, and they immediately had me hooked.
- Lore | What attracted me about Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards in the first place, was the lore it was based on. The game is based on the comic book series called The World of Aluna, and a lot was drawn from lore, which I thought was amazing, even though I was not familiar with most of it. A few examples include the weapons, which were based on historical armory from the Old World (South America) and New World (Spanish Empire). The boss creatures you meet along the way are also inspired by South American lore, and the world you traverse through is based on 16th century Inca.
- Overall story | From the heavens, mystic shards rain down upon the earth defying both time and space. No one knows their origins or the true powers they possess. However, one thing is clear: if the shards fall into the wrong hands the consequences could be catastrophic. Enter Aluna, the heroine on a quest through Inca mythology as she strives to restore the amulet her goddess mother entrusted to her and fulfill her true destiny. I quite enjoyed the story, especially since it was based on lore, as I previously mentioned.
- Difficulty | There is a little something for everyone here because Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards offers four difficulty settings. You have your basic easy, normal, and hard choices, but there is also a story mode. I’m a big fan of a story mode, definitely for a game like this that initially pulled me in with its story. You can freely and easily change between difficulty modes during your gameplay, so that was a big plus. I thus tried out the various settings, and they really did vary from each other when it came down to combat. In the story mode, you lose little to no health, no matter how hard the enemies hit you. In the easy and medium difficulty setting, the enemies were a tad more forceful and harder to beat, and of course, the hard mode had me dead in a few seconds.
- The blessing that is automatic saving | We often take an automatic saving feature for granted, but not me, no way. I always highly appreciate devs integrating this into a game. The frequent and automatical saving came in handy quite a lot, especially when you’re paying in normal or hard mode and had to fight off, for example, a bunch of lizard swordmen combined with some ghost pirates. Even if you died, you never had to replay too big of a part, which I thought was very nice.
- Enemies and combat | Get ready for a massive amount of enemies. Once you’ve defeated that horde of bears, you’ll quickly run into some other opponents looking for trouble, like crabs or cursed villagers. I feel like maybe the developers overdid it a little with the number of enemies. Sometimes, I felt like all I was doing was fighting a shitton of enemies, just to get to the next bunch that’s ready to kill you, and I was just on auto-pilot, basically. The game does offer unlimited health potions that recharge rather quickly, and I think this is a must in Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards. I know for a fact that if it didn’t was for those constant healings, I would’ve been stuck a lot more, and might’ve actually given up. The battle part in itself is rather fun, I have to admit. You have melee, ranged, and magic attacks, and by gaining skill points, you can upgrade your skill tree in order to become an even stronger warrior.
- Slow | I think it’s clear that, besides some negatives, I had a good time playing Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards. However, nothing is perfect. During my adventurous journey, I did notice that interacting went a tad too slow at times. Luckily, this was not the case with the NPCs or cutscenes, but rather with the menus. With the ‘-‘ button on your Switch, you can consult your character statistics, skills, journal, and map. During both going to this menu, as well as scrolling through it, I experienced some lag and sometimes had to click twice in order to get the game to actually do what I asked. Loading screens didn’t take too long, so all in all, this wasn’t the biggest annoyance. It could be that I was playing on a Switch Lite, rather than a regular Switch, so I put this little bullet point in the ‘somewhere between’ section.
- Voiced dialogue | I absolutely loved the voice acting in Aluna: Sentinel of the Shards, most of the time, that is. I think around 90% of the dialogue was voiced, and I’m glad they went in this direction. Aluna is voiced by actress/producer/creator Paula Garces, and she did an amazing job, really. It did add a little something extra to the game, and even though I’m a person that sometimes reads through dialogues quickly, I never did when she was talking. However, there were plenty of characters that were less interesting to listen to. Some just kept repeating the same thing over and over again to the point it became truly annoying.
- Objectives | At first, I thought the objectives were presented very well. They are very clear, and a green little arrow shows you where to go to finish your current objective. However, after a while, I noticed that the smallest little tasks got objectives, and sometimes an objective would appear and you’d complete it within the next 30 seconds. This made everything feel a little ‘too easy’ or something, and it made me lose the feeling of challenge somehow.
What we disliked
- Repetitive | Due to this constant running into groups of enemies, you’ll quickly see that the gameplay gets rather repetitive. I found myself really enjoying the game in the beginning but after a while the feeling of been there, done that started creeping in more and more. The variety of enemies is well-balanced, but still, I could not shake the repetitiveness. This also goes for the surroundings, by the way. I felt like I was spending the biggest chunk of my time in the same surroundings: jungles and beaches.
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