Developers: Cosmo Gatto
Publishers: Neowiz Games
Reviewed For: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On: Steam
Aka is a relaxing, open-world exploration game that focuses on finding inner peace. The opening scene starts with Aka, a red panda, on a battlefield after a war has ended. You play as the retired war soldier red panda who then makes his way to Pine Island to live out the rest of his days.
Aka is a nonlinear game in which you can explore four islands and help out their inhabitants. It’s a very peaceful game that goes from dawn to dusk, but Aka doesn’t need to sleep. I don’t particularly like how nonlinear the game is, as there’s no structure and there’s an overwhelming number of things you can do. You can grow and harvest crops in your garden, build furniture and decorate your home, explore the islands for resources and aid inhabitants in quests. Unfortunately, there is no external reward for completing quests. It all feels quite meaningless and I feel unmotivated to complete more quests.
Finding inner peace is the main focus of this game. You can do things like watch the clouds pass by and nap on giant capybaras. By exploring the islands and helping out the islands’ inhabitants, you discover more about the past demons haunting Aka when he was fighting in the war.
Other than island exploration and completing quests, you can play mini-games with the inhabitants such as a card battle game and a rhythm game. But there is a lack of tutorials explaining how to go about your daily life. You basically have to get a feel of the game before you become comfortable with the controls and gameplay.
Some improvements can be made to the game to make it more enjoyable. Having the ability to increase your inventory space will allow you to carry more items around, which would be a great convenience. Being able to raise friendship levels with island inhabitants will make talking to them more worthwhile. There should also be more established boundaries to prevent Aka from falling into the water at weird angles and give the player more control over his movements. Rewarding the player after completing quests should be added to the game as well.
Visually, Aka is very cute with watercolor graphics. The visuals remind me of Studio Ghibli’s style. The music is also very calming and fits the tone of the game. But that is where the strength of the game lies. Aka has the potential to be a good nonlinear open-world adventure game, but it doesn’t live up to expectations.
- Studio Ghlbli style aesthetics
- Relaxing, peaceful ambiance
- No rewards for completing quests
- No set physical boundaries