Game: Chasing Aurora
Developer: Broken Rules
Publisher: Broken Rules
Available on: Wii U only
The Wii U has no shortage of titles geared towards bringing local co-op back in a big way. Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U are great examples of the new direction Nintendo are driving towards, hoping to replicate the runaway success of Wii Sports with something else just as revolutionary, a way to bring people together over games. Only this time they’re not just aiming to bring families or casual gamers together, but core gamers, too – people who largely ignored the Wii despite its box-fresh gimmickry because it was seen as too friendly, too “kid-ified”, like smoking-hot new technology dumbed down so your nan could play.
Narrow-minded, of course, but Nintendo took it in all the same. The Wii U, they’re hoping, will be the best of both worlds. It will cater to the core with games like ZombiU, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Mass Effect 3, but maintain the Wii’s family-friendly sensibilities with its party games. In a world where “multiplayer” means “online”, they’re attempting to change the status-quo by going back a step – a brave, bold move for sure: Create multiplayer that’s fun for 2 – 5 players but make it couch-based all the way. Nintendo Land does it well, NSMBU does it well, ZombiU does it well. In theory, it’s understandable that developer Broken Rules felt that they could do it well, too.
The primary mode of indie curio Chasing Aurora asks one player to use the GamePad while up to four other players take up wiimotes. The idea is that you – as the GamePad player – guide your little brightly coloured, distractingly-humanoid bird thing into various hiding places on the screen, and the other players come to find you. It’s an interesting concept, but while it shares some similarities with, say, Nintendo Land’s Mario Chase, Chasing Aurora fails to produce the same giggles, and the effortless flight is too simple a mechanic to provide long-term thrills.
Conversely, the single player mode is shallow and repetitive, as you guide your little flyer around 20 looped race courses attempting to earn the highest multiplier and, by proxy, the biggest score. The most unforgivable omission here is leader-board support. There’s no global score card to compete against, meaning that once you’ve spent 20 minutes with it and the novelty has worn off, there’s no incentive to keep playing beyond the silky smooth flight itself.
Commanding your chosen bird around the still-yet-beautifully considered levels – all triangles and soothing pastel shades – is a question of tapping A to flap your wings and R to dive, while the left stick controls your direction. You can’t die or lose health, have no enemies to vanquish nor obstacles to circumnavigate either. Chasing Aurora is about the beauty and freedom of flight and captures it as well as can be expected when confined to a mostly static 6.2in backdrop.
The problem is that while simple games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan are becoming more and more popular for their reliance on grace, poise and uncluttered ideals, Chasing Aurora manages to be, frankly, too barren. There is a commendably simple and unique idea at its heart, but a lack of ideas and genuine direction mean that Broken Rules’ title is largely about making a tiny bird fly around in circles.
VERDICT: A beautiful art style and a focus on relaxing, danger-free gameplay can’t help a game that is hamstrung by its own simplicity. Chasing Aurora looks nice and plays nice, but ultimately a lack of story, context or conflict makes for a fairly shallow and un-fulfilling experience once the novelty of that wondrous flight wears off.