Elden Pixels’ Alwa’s Legacy is the type of game that works wonderfully on Nintendo Switch. It’s not long or demanding and sends players back to a simpler time in video games. The Metroidvania genre has given us plenty of masterpieces, and although not entirely memorable, Alwa’s Legacy is an enjoyable few hours for fans of old-school games.
For better or worse, Alwa’s Legacy hearkens back to the SNES days. There are some modern gameplay elements, but the overall experience feels very retro. From a gameplay standpoint, everything is simplistic but occasionally difficult to master. You can jump, attack, use magic and abilities, and climb ladders. Enemies aren’t particularly challenging early on, but as usual they always respawn after leaving a room. This means that you’ll constantly fight the same foes, which can be particularly dreadful when you’re far from a save point. With Alwa’s Legacy hearkening to the days of old, you’ll surely get lost and die often. To add salt to the wound, the developers added a death counter to mock you after each failure.
The story is barebones, but that’s not the main draw of Alwa’s Legacy. You play as Zoe, the heroine from this game’s predecessor, Alwa’s Awakening. She wakes up without any indication of where she is. An old woman sends her on a quest to destroy four demons, stop the evil Vicar, save the land of Alwa, and regain her memory. The narrative isn’t particularly enticing, but it is charming. The developers added a wide variety of characters full of fantastic personalities. Unfortunately, these characters rarely make appearances and don’t have much to do with the story. Alwa’s Legacy is a simple “rid the world of evil” quest, and that’s not a bad thing.
Puzzles, abilities, and exploration
Puzzles in Alwa’s Legacy are clever and occasionally require players to think outside the box. Zoe gains various power-ups and skills throughout her adventure, including summoning bubbles to reach higher areas, summoning blocks to press buttons, and lightning strikes. Figuring out which ability to use is often a puzzle in itself, and some environments don’t play well with specific abilities. There are rooms where statues will suck up the water bubbles, making them impossible to use. Purple water will automatically dissolve the blocks Zoe summons. Figuring out how to navigate through rooms is fun, but occasionally frustrating in later dungeons.
Zoe can also find items that grace her with timed moves that can be recharged by entering a new room or by holding X after using an ability. The latter is mainly used after a failed platforming attempt or during boss battles. These skills include being able to traverse spikes without getting hurt, slowing down time, having protective bubbles surround you, and even phasing through walls. These moves offer variety in terms of combat and traversal.
As for the boss battles themselves, they are the best part of the game, but unfortunately, they are few and far between. They’re fun because every boss battle wonderfully utilizes the gameplay elements specific to that particular dungeon.
There is a multitude of items that enhance Zoe’s stats too. Blue orbs upgrade her three main abilities while rose petals increase HP. There are also tear drops that can be dropped at save points to turn them into warp points. Because Alwa’s Legacy focuses on exploration, creating warp points is essential to getting around the map. Backtracking became a chore, so scoping out tears to create warp points became a necessity for me.
Alwa’s Legacy is a pretty good blast from the past
Meroidvania games never get old. Unfortunately, there are plenty of games that do what Alwa’s Legacy does, but better. That’s not to say that this title from Elden Pixels is bad; it’s quite good. The issue is that despite the responsive gameplay, inventive puzzles, and gorgeous pixel art, other games stand out more in the genre. You’ll be done with Alwa’s Legacy in a few hours, and I suspect most people won’t revisit Zoe’s adventure. She is a great protagonist placed in a game that doesn’t have much staying power once the credits roll. With that being said, fans of the genre will find enjoyment trying to save the land of Alwa from the forces of evil, even if it’s somewhat forgettable.
A review code was provided by the publisher.