Lince Works’s stealth-action game Aragami launched nearly two years ago, so support in the form of its ‘Nightfall’ DLC, while a bit late, is a safe way to welcome loyal followers back to comfort of the shadows. ‘Nightfall’ puts a prologue narrative and new abilities on the table as an attempt to entice fans to return. Unfortunately, despite interesting lead characters and engaging sneaking mechanics, the package is not greater than the sum of its parts.
‘Nightfall’s’ USD$10 price point may be discouraging because buyers sometimes feel as though they are not getting enough bang for their buck for similarly inexpensive add-on content. Thankfully, this package offers more than just collectibles and bonus missions with little substance, as it adds a new story, co-op mode, locations, and settings to learn front to back, alongside new abilities to spice up the tedium occasionally felt in the base game. The Aragami faithful will no doubt want to sink their teeth in again, especially if they have a friend to join in for a double-team approach.
The prologue’s story gives the option to step into the sneakers of either Hyo, a grizzled mentor who is constantly fighting for his life, or Shinobu, who is described as a master field operative with undying loyalty to Hyo. Both assassins are tasked with hunting down an alchemist guarded by an army of soldiers. The story is passable for what it accomplishes, but does little to make itself memorable. Playing as either character yields the same story, so replayability is limited to discovering new ways to take out enemies. Hidden scrolls help to flesh out the story and world, but do not completely soften the blow caused by the lack of attention the narrative seems to have received. The tale spun in ‘Nightfall’ is never completely ignored, though it remains on the periphery, leading to an end product that feels half-baked.
Interactions between the two protagonists (which are sadly limited almost exclusively to cutscenes) inject real character into a game otherwise missing just that. The pairing is not explored to its full potential though, as it seems to exist only to facilitate the co-op mode in ‘Nightfall’; with the exception of cutscenes, selecting Hyo will almost completely remove Shinobu from gameplay and vice versa. Lince Works tries to tell of the relationship between two killers bound by loyalty, but stays in limbo by teleporting the opposite character in and out without logical explanation. Narrative and intriguing characters are certainly present in ‘Nightfall’, but these offerings are almost as surface level as additional content comes. Playing with a friend is definitely the best way to engage in this new package, and solo players miss out on a more cohesive experience as a result.
While the DLC missteps in its characters, it makes up for these errors in gameplay. Aragami’s gameplay is as punishing as ever thanks to new environments filled with enemies aiming to bring mission attempts to a quick end. Levels take place in daunting hallways, huts, and even the occasional field. The many unique settings present obvious challenge with less obvious solutions. The game provides a laundry list of ways to progress in every area, and each option feels natural. Furthermore, the moment-to-moment gameplay adds versatility through new abilities, though they fail to make an entirely new set of missions feel justified. For example, one of the abilities adds an explosive kunai, allowing a timed explosion to take out a group of enemies; while useful, this mechanic has such a specific use that room for experimentation is null. Only four new abilities of this kind are included, and each suffers from the same ailment. Exacerbating matters, both protagonists possess the same powers. Suddenly, the pull of trying out new abilities seems limited. However, Aragami continues to boast infectious core gameplay, adding difficulty to avoid being sucked into the shadows over and over again while trying to plan different courses of action.
Aragami: ‘Nightfall’ does manage to stay true to its unique visual style, resulting in the return of one of the base game’s biggest strengths. Hyo looks intimidating, adding to the feeling of being a true stalker of prey in Aragami’s endless playground. Even the environments somehow look more impressive in this long-awaited return to Aragami’s version of Japan. The steps taken in the original to create an immersive experience are appreciated here too. The dense plains, creative characters designs, and immersive HUD come together to create an intense experience when trying to escape guards. However, the game has some issues that can shatter immersion entirely. One bug in particular completely halts the game from progressing at all, resulting in a complete chapter restart and the loss of up to an hour of play.
All-in-all, ‘Nightfall’ finds itself drenched in detail. Aragami lovers, and even general stealth genre fans, will find content here worth sticking around for, especially for the cheap price. On the other hand, those players hoping for any building upon Aragami’s solid-enough foundation will be sorely disappointed. The genuinely new pulls in the package are shallow beyond belief due to a lackluster story and cool powers that are never given time to shine through the darkness. ‘Nightfall’ is an add-on with a ton of potential that missteps so often that it falls just a bit more than it strides.