When thinking about the boom Metroidvanias have had over the last several years, a few notable examples typically pop up, ranging from the highly popular Hollow Knight to more niche titles such as Momodora: Reverie Under Moonlight or Unsighted. These games have earned their place when it comes to well-regarded examples of their genre, and after spending about 30 hours playing Afterimage, there may very well be another title worth being part of the conversation.
Afterimage follows Renee, an amnesiac woman who sets off on a journey throughout the lands of Engardin after her village is burned to the ground. Alongside her is a cute floating creature named Ifree who acts as her only constant companion in a ruined world. The premise is very much in line with the anime that have likely served as inspiration. It doesn’t set high expectations in the beginning, but going on a journey of finding answers and self-discovery is always a compelling hook.
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As Renee and Ifree’s adventure reveals more about the world and the protagonist’s identity, the story becomes far more interesting. Nature is thriving in the world of Engardin, and it proves to be a gorgeous and somber setting with locales ranging from mines overrun with mushrooms to dead villages. Using a hand-drawn art style inspired by anime, colors in every area pop, making even the most desolate location feel alive. The Town of the Exiled, for example, is populated by the spirits of its deceased residents but exudes strong accents of purples, blues, and some reds in the enemies and environment. Afterimage’s narrative shines the best in the environmental storytelling found in each area.
The game explores themes like how selfish desires end up causing catastrophe for everyone, the different methods one’s sense of faith can be exerted, and how cycles of violence can potentially be broken. How all of these are handled varies, and is also somewhat…