Aporia: Beyond The Valley drops the player into an open world game looking for answers to the disappearance of the inhabitants of this beautiful world as well as throwing some very crafty puzzles at you.
When GReviews were given the code to Aporia I didn’t know what to expect from it as the trailers don’t really give too much away. For this type of game that’s more often than not the best thing to do, as any type of hint or tip could potentially give away the story of the game.
The game itself reminded me a lot of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which is similar in the sense that you play as a character that you never see trying to figure out what has happened to everyone around you.
The exploration of the game is fantastic and consistently has you checking every nook and cranny for something you might have missed that could be a key to the story. There is something slightly satisfying about spending the day just wandering around an open-world looking for answers to what has happened which in a weird way, is a puzzle in itself. I say this because throughout the entire game there isn’t a single word of text or dialogue and the story is explained through a series of still and animated pictures.
The still pictures are scattered throughout the landscape, where as animated tapestries are activated by placing the glowing cylinder you have into certain small pillars which then project the images around you. The power of the civilization that once lived here is also technologically advanced as you soon learn this glowing cylinder you possess can make healing plants grow in the space of a few seconds, grow vines so you can reach higher places and also acts as a key/torch. The glowing cylinder only has a certain amount of juice, if you will, and requires the player to hunt around the landscape looking for refills.
The first quarter of the game guides you down a certain path of trees and rivers with various puzzles here and there to give you a feel for the game, almost like a tutorial. It’s after this initial segment that game opens up and allows you to truly explore the beautiful world that has been built.
The world is full of vegetation, rivers and old battered structures for you to explore; each one different to the next but it also has a very supernatural feel to it, more so at night when the mist and fog creeps in under the moonlight. I mean there is also the fact that you are completely alone, wandering around with the sound of whispers and other random noises that sound very much to me like the smoke from Lost and this adds brilliant atmosphere to the game.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward with the player roaming around solving a various number of different puzzles to further their quest/story. The puzzles themselves can be tricky and I know two of them especially had me stumped for a good while with multiple attempts ending with me pulling my hair out until I went back to it later with a fresh pair of eyes and bingo the puzzle was done. There isn’t really much else to a game of this style to be honest as when you’re not solving puzzles you’re simply running and jumping around exploring. However, there was one thing that threw me completely off guard and this was the appearance of an entity, which I have to admit, had me bricking it the first time he/she materialized. It appears with a flash of red light then just floats around in different areas until you get close and it notices you – the music changes when it has you in its sight. Of course most of the time you can just run from it to play it safe, but if you do end up sticking around for it to man handle you it will cause you to lose health and to be teleported to a random place in the map. It’s kind of like a slightly less threatening Slenderman.
With all this said the game is not without its faults, many times throughout, textures would not load correctly if at all. The world itself is also a little unstable which in some cases caused me to fall completely through the world. The sound was also very buggy at times especially when I was next to running water as you would hear the water but it would constantly cut in and out. There were a couple of times I had to reload the game as sometimes the loading screens would just hang and the game would crash. This could just be down to the review copy we were given and certain bugs/glitches have not been ironed out yet, but I’m sure the final product will be a lot more problem free.
On a personal level I thoroughly enjoyed the game and it took me round about 10 hours to fully complete and that is exploring every part of the land I could.
Even though I have finished the game something is still drawing me back for a second go, whether it’s the graphics, the sound or maybe just because I’m a sucker for a good old exploration game, I know at some point travelling beyond the valley will happen again