Aeon Drive Demo Impressions: Smooth Arcade Action

by David Sanchez June 18, 2021 @ 7:30 am

Aeon Drive Steam demo gameplay.

There were a lot of cool games shown during the Guerilla Collective event that coincided with this year’s E3. One major standout was Aeon Drive from 2Awesome Studio. The game is a throwback to old school arcade action titles and offers players incredibly smooth gameplay that’s as stylish to witness as it is satisfying to master. I played through the recent Aeon Drive demo on Steam to get a feel of what the game has to offer, and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up playing two times back-to-back.

At its core, Aeon Drive is all about getting from point A to point B. But it’s never that simple, is it? Each level starts with a countdown timer giving you 30 seconds. This adds a sense of urgency to the game and forces you to constantly be on the move.

As you run through levels (either solo or in co-op for up to four players), you’ll find time capsules scattered everywhere. For every four time capsules you pick up, you can add five seconds to the timer. You’ll have to manually use time capsules (by using the Y button on Xbox controllers), so if you’re down to your last second and don’t trigger a time capsule, it’s back to the start of the level for you.

Aeon Drive hack-and-slash combat.

Playing the Aeon Drive demo, I was stoked about just how well the game works. Yes, there’s a lot of pressure due to the timer, but the game controls so well that running, sliding, and wall-jumping through levels always feels smooth and responsive. There are some tougher areas you’ll have to traverse through, but the game gives you the tools you need to succeed.

In addition to the platforming mechanics, you also have a dagger that always to teleport short distances. You can toss it through deadly force fields and zap through to the other side. You can throw the dagger through narrow openings that the protagonist character wouldn’t normally fit through. And you can chuck it at hard-to-reach ceilings to get to higher areas.

A lot of the levels in the demo were also fairly nonlinear, allowing me to explore different areas for collectibles. There are branching paths in the levels, which means you can reach the end of a level from different spots — some paths are tougher than others, and a few force you to perform blind jumps, which are never fun, but being able to discover new areas is always a treat.

Aeon Drive co-op.

It’s worth mentioning that Aeon Drive does take a little bit of time to get used to. Because you’re constantly dealing with the clock, your character’s rapid movements and teleportation abilities could be a little tricky to master at first. That said, once you get the feel of the game down, it just sort of clicks. My first playthrough of the demo was a lot clumsier than my second. By the time I was finished, it was easy to zip through stages. Well, not entirely easy — the game’s still pretty tough, after all!

Visually, Aeon Drive is very reminiscent of what you’d see on the Genesis. Of course, that’s not a one-to-one comparison as 2Awesome Studio clearly put the advantages of technology to great use here. The game’s pixel count is high, making for fluid animations, detailed level designs, and cool backgrounds. The whole thing is also super colorful and filled with neon lighting, giving the game a futuristic cyberpunk tone.

Though it definitely benefits from modern tech — I mean, look at all those glorious pixels! — Aeon Drive reminds me of something could’ve been released on the Sega Genesis in the ‘90s. I’ll say this much: If it would’ve launched around the same time as Strider, it would’ve given that classic title some competition! Aeon Drive is due out this year on Switch and PC, as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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