Go back in time to find your own powers with Arlo in Arlo’s Adventure.
Wizarding can be a rather precarious occupation. The perils associated with being a magic user are nothing short of terrifying when you think about it — gnarly beasts after you, other wizards challenging you to wizard-offs, all that good stuff. But what were to happen if you lost everything that actually marked you as a wizard — namely, your powers. Poor Arlo of Arlo’s Adventure has fallen victim to just that, and it’s up to you to help him make things right.
Cinopt Studios’ retro-styled platformer follows Arlo on an arduous journey through castles, forests, and other dangerous locales as he searches desperately for his usurped powers, and the result is a pleasingly familiar platformer that recalls some of the golden years of console gaming. It’s nothing terribly complicated, but it’s a magical good time.
Arlo, in all his 8-bit wizard glory, is tasked with breezing through 36 different side-scrolling levels. You’ll find yourself exploring snowy mountaintops, castle gates, dank, dark caves, and other types of terrain, throughout which he’ll find and regain his missing powers. Darn those evil forces! Arlo is controlled with an on-screen retro-styled controller layout, which feels unobtrusive enough to stay out of the way, when you simply need to take a step back and deal with only the enemies currently assaulting you.
Throughout Arlo’s Adventure a bevy of enemies will crop up, including zombies, snakes, larger orc-like baddies, spiders, trolls, and more. They’re out for blood, and luckily that can be felled via projectile magic, and the various spells gathered throughout the course of the game. It feels good to knock away the baddies as you careen through each challenging level, and there’s an entertaining lilt to smacking a spider in the face with an energy ball.
But you’re not just relegated to destroying enemies by way of elemental or melee attacks. A good portion of the game finds you grappling with physics puzzles dotting the landscape. You’ll use a combination of powers gained throughout normal play to do just that. These are satisfying instances that sadly aren’t seen enough through the normal game, and more would certainly have been appreciated. They break up the levels into pleasing, more palatable chunks, and worked well with the controller layout. Unfortunately, while the game blends its slower-paced physic puzzle segments with frenetic battles and power-scouting platforming well, it plays it safe by not truly introducing anything particularly innovative.
An original chiptune soundtrack combines well with the retro aesthetic, and even the font choices and monster design call forth the heyday of a much simpler time in gaming. Despite its modern slant where character movement is concerned, this could well be a game lifted straight from your classic video game shelf. Arlo’s Adventure is a perfectly serviceable adventure that doesn’t try too many new concepts, but executes familiar ones excellently, and it should be added to any platforming fan’s collection.