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Hands On: Areia: Pathway to Dawn

BEYOND JUST A JOURNEY

As you begin Areia: Pathway to Dawn and enter a beautiful yet somewhat abstract land of sand dunes and water, it becomes obvious what the developers’ influences are. Areia’s creators, Glip Studio, go beyond wearing their influences on their sleeves, but influence is far from a bad thing. The moment I began my adventure, my biggest fear going into Areia was plodding through a shallow recreation of it’s clear predecessor, 2012’s Journey. What I found was,  while Areia takes a lot from that modern classic, it’s far from shallow.

In my hour-ish preview, Areia proved itself not a ripoff or clone, but a spiritual successor to one of the best art games of all time. Glip Studio clearly took a lot of notes on what made Journey so great. Through its strong design, Areia wordlessly teaches you how to play and everything you need to know about how your player character interacts with the world. While there’s a button prompt or two every so often, the title’s strongest asset right off the bat is it’s conveyance of mechanics.

A RELAXING, BEAUTIFUL WORLD

Areia: Pathway to Dawn also manages to be incredibly beautiful. I find abstract art styles to be fairly hit or miss in games, as sometimes they come off as aesthetically unappealing or plain boring. Thankfully, Areia pulls off its abstract design with style and grace, and adds a fair amount of charm to the experience. I’m captivated as I see the sun’s rays dance across the sandy hills of the world, as well as watching my character effortlessly slide down those same dunes. Besides a few occasional moments of jitteriness, most of the character animation is silky smooth.

I’m also rather impressed by how downright relaxing Areia turned out to be. More often than not, I can get impatient with games that take their time in telling you what to do or plain don’t have much to do at all. Areia is different. Areia’s world design and audio design perfectly manage to lull you into a deep sense of chill as you play it. The meditation elements added subtly or not-so-subtly to all aspects of the game greatly contribute to this sense of relaxation.

IDENTITY CRISIS

Thus far, what I’m most critical of when it comes to my experience with Areia is it’s sense of originality. While well-executed, I can’t help but feel as if this title lacks its own identity. There were a few moments in my preview of Areia that felt distinct from Journey, but I can’t help but feel as if I’m playing something that merely steps in the shadows of another work as opposed to having its own personality. It’s an issue that can be side-stepped through strong execution, but it’s still an aspect of Areia that I couldn’t help but think about as I played it.

The Verdict

Altogether, my experience with Areia: Path to Dawn was delightful, and I can’t wait to see how the completed project takes shape in early 2020. Areia is the first title from Glip Studio in Brazil, and if the entire experience turns out to be as strong as the first hour, the entire team will have something to be proud of.

Written by
Wednesday, 28 August 2019 05:00
Published in Editorial

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