When I first saw Ageless on the Nintendo eShop, I got instant Celeste vibes that excited me more than I could ever describe. The pixel art graphics, the gorgeous level design, the emotional story, the platforming elements, the vulnerable but strong protagonist. Excitingly, I was right to think there’s significant Celeste inspiration to be found in this game. Not to mention that the game was being published by Team 17, the publishers of the recent and equally beautiful Neon Abyss. For me, this was about more excitement than I could handle.
Ageless is a puzzler-platformer developed by One More Dream with a very unique mechanic at its core. Kiara, the protagonist, a young girl who has lost her path in life, obtains the ability to change the age of life around her and become temporarily ageless, effectively pausing time. Kiara wants to use her newfound powers to help those around her – and that’s what she sets out to do. Using this ability to manipulate the plants and animals around you, you’ll traverse and explore the various environments. It’s a fascinating mechanic and one that I think works well and helps it to stand out from other puzzler-platformers.
The various mechanics are fairly easy to get a grip of, but this is a precision-based platformer. If you’re anything like me you might spend a while in the trial and error stage with each puzzle – but the quick automatic restart and checkpoints make this far less painful an experience, and it’s not a chore to try again.
The precision element also becomes evident if you’re using a controller, which makes aiming so much harder; at some points, the aiming was so sensitive that despite knowing what to do and being capable of it, I couldn’t quite get it. This isn’t a complaint about the game as such – aiming with sticks will never have quite the same accuracy as aiming with a mouse, and in twinstick shooters this is particularly evident. The developers could however make it easier for the player by reducing the sensitivity of the aiming controls, or at least providing an option to. Playing on PC will obviously avoid these difficulties, so I would recommend picking it up there if you’re interested.
In some area, like bosses, this precision factor can get quite frustrating. When leaving Pandora, the continuous runner segment that follows requires absolute precision and is quite difficult with a controller. Not to mention, it seemed like a bit of a difficulty hike for what is pretty early on in the game. That was the first section that I genuinely got stuck on for a bit, with the very little if any leeway that it gives in its desire for precision. I had to learn fast. A bit more pacing in terms of the difficulty wouldn’t go amiss.
As I’ve said with many indies of late, it’s artistically that Ageless really thrives. This game is a beautiful experience with some gorgeous and diverse environments, stunning colour palettes imagined in pixel art form and a beautiful soundtrack that makes it an even more emotional experience. Kiara’s story is emotional, heartbreaking and really quite relatable: the story of a girl trying to find her purpose and trying desperately to be her best self.
The beautiful music of this game is probably the first thing that stood out to me when I started playing. The soundtrack, composed by Elmer Ho Lok Zhan, is diverse and breathtaking. It drew me in right from the first second, with some gorgeous violin segments in the opening puzzles that are just incredible. Later on, you’ll find tense, rockier music and some gorgeous vocals, all stunning and an absolute treat to listen to. Sidenote: You can buy the soundtrack for the game on Steam, which is incredibly tempting. In this way, Ageless is just like the incredible Celeste with its gorgeous pixel art and haunting and emotional soundtrack – and that is high praise indeed. Ageless is incredibly beautiful – and I will die on this hill!
Ageless is a triumph and I’m very happy to recommend it. It’s truly beautiful from start to finish, it’s unique, and it’s available on PC and Switch for the super reasonable price of £10.99. If you’re a Celeste fan, I’d especially recommend checking it out.