Developed by studio Forgotten Key, a five-man team from Sweden, the third-person puzzle game allows players to step into the wings of Auk, who can transform into a bird on command, and allow you to fly through a colourful but broken world, for you see, an event called the Great Divide shattered the world into floating islands; this is the story of Auk’s pilgrimage.
Launching after five years in development, Aer arrives at what is considered the busiest time for gamers with every studio releasing some of their biggest titles, but with a lull period before a mountain of big games hit shelves, Aer provides a second wind to keep going.
Exploring the world as Auk, she can walk around islands and engage in simple puzzles to progress the story, beginning in an underground temple, the place collapses around her before making it to the exit. Emerging from that dark cave and transforming into a bird by jumping over the edge of the island.
Flying in Aer plays a big part of the game’s mechanics and the exhilarating rush of jumping over the edge and free falling before instantaneously being able to soar with the winds. Flapping her wings to gain altitude and banking left or right as you move through blue skies is a wonderful change of pace, putting down Destiny 2 to play Aer. Approaching an island as a bird, one button, and Auk is on foot exploring the island.
The mindful soundtrack accompanying your joyful romp through the skies of this world providing an atmospheric high matching Auk’s current objective. Speaking to the villagers and by reading the in-game lore spread out around the islands, Auk’s on a special pilgrimage to three temples – by doing so, balance will be restored to the world.
The compass and villagers spread around the islands provide a general idea of where to go next, points of interest glow, and the islands have various puzzles to solve that flow well with the pacing of the game. Nothing stood out as being difficult but the puzzles are respectful of the player providing a decent challenge to solve – there’s an energy the game gives off and the vibe isn’t broken because of overly difficult puzzles.
A big nuisance was the sensitivity of the camera, one minor adjustment on the right analog and your camera reacts awkwardly. Crashing into walls as a bird transforms Auk back into a human, a nuisance that happened a dozen times or so, and when it did happen, it broke the game’s pacing for me.
Aer is a beautiful game with a lovely low-poly stylized world, and I enjoyed flying around as a bird, solving puzzles and listening to the atmospheric music, but aside from the main story, there isn’t else to do; some islands are empty and don’t offer anything of note by stopping by.
The vibrant but desolate world of Aer will draw you in, the ability to fly up into the sky with such ease provides a serene but brief experience that serves as a respectable palette cleanse for the wave of shooters and action games about to arrive. Aer is a labor of love but has some rough edges that prevent this game from being something special, but it’s worth checking out.