This intriguing puzzle experience from creative content producer Investigate North, provides a beautiful world to wander through with a potentially engaging story. Aporia: Beyond the Valley is an interesting concept that endeavours to blend story telling and low interaction gameplay with limited success. A gorgeous looking game that seems to feel like it falls short on it’s goal, seeming undefined and unpolished in many areas.
In Aporia you awaken in what seems to be some kind of tomb. You obtain a tube like object that can be filled with an apparently magical substance, allowing you to achieve certain objectives as you move through the game. At various points you are presented with what is essentially a stylised slide show detailing the events that occurred in the now empty world that you traverse. As you progress you solve puzzles and locate items that open various doors and allow you to move forward. For the most part, interaction in the world is limited to climbing certain things, moving levers and collecting items. Simple controls allow you to solve puzzles but in some areas the controls are extremely clunky and odd to try and use, which disrupts the flow of what seems to be a generally peaceful game with very minimal amounts of danger for majority of the playthrough. You can lose health and at points you will be presented with threats, but ultimately navigating these dangers is not difficult and after a moment of uncertainty you can deal with them quickly with minimal challenge.
The puzzles themselves are relatively straight forward and don’t feel challenging, which makes for a very relaxed game but not one that really instils a sense of accomplishment or maintains the intrigue that Aporia tries to set out with. Overall the way the gameplay is constructed makes Aporia feel very much like a walking simulator and unfortunately it experiences all the same pitfalls as many other games of it’s ilk. There is no strong element of story in the game, in that, you are moving through a civilisation that has ended but whose buildings still stand. The past events are communicated to you through the slide show mechanic and although these sections of the game are beautifully stylised it still very much disconnects you from the story, since you are viewing it from afar and are not actually engaged in the events. This method of story telling is very relaxing on some levels but it does make you feel like you’re missing out. You are wandering through this dead world long after anything was actually happening here and ultimately there is just nothing really going on in this land you find yourself in.
Aporia is a very beautiful game visually. The graphics are stunning with the lighting and world design really capturing your imagination for the initial part of the game until the lack of significant content begins to turn the game into something that simply looks nice and doesn’t provide much else. There are a few mildly irritating graphical glitches every so often but nothing that impacts gameplay and the slight tearing only seems to occur in the distance occasionally. It feels something of a shame for a game that is so beautiful artistically to then fall short on containing anything that feels compelling or meaningful.
The music in Aporia is also very beautiful and further cements the feeling that you’re walking through a piece of art and not playing a game. To some extent it feels that perhaps this was an aim of the project but if so it still hasn’t created something that feels engaging on any level.
A lovely game visually with and wonderful soundtrack, but it lacks the content required to really make it feel like you’re actually playing something. A potentially intriguing experience for those that do thoroughly enjoy games in the walking simulator genre but not a game for anyone who requires a little more action or who likes to be more involved in the story.