Developed by GILP Studio
Areia is a fantastic concept and is an extremely relaxing experience. But it lacks any real depth to make it a great game.
“Areia: Pathway to dawn is a fascinating adventure that takes you through the different stages of enlightenment. A relaxing experience combined with unique gameplay. A journey like no other. Engage yourself with the mysterious existence of your Self and the world around you.”
Areia: Pathway to Dawn is an interesting game to say the least. The idea behind it is actually something that really intrigued me and it was unlike any other game that I had really played before. The closest game that Areia reminds me of is the 2013 adventure game Journey, even the art style is pretty similar on the advertisements on the steam store.
Areia takes a lot of inspiration from Buddhist symbolism and has a really big focus on meditation and internal well-being. This game isn’t trying to be a challenge, in fact it’s more about relaxing the player and allowing them to just sit back and enjoy their time playing this game, having a break from reality and immersing themselves into the beautifully designed world, learning lessons along the way to get to the light in the centre of the world, which I believe is the dawn.
Areia really does make you feel relaxed, its whole focus on trying to bring the player in and soothing them works, and I like to think of it as a video game version of Yoga, but without any of the actual physical exertion which put people like me off.
Areia: Pathway to Dawn – The Look of Serenity
The graphics are actually quite stunning at times, as soon as the game sets off you are brought into this beautiful looking desert landscape, the lighting directly in-front of you at all times illuminates this world and makes it just pop off the screen. The design of your voiceless character is really unique and stands out compared to other voiceless characters.
The ethereal world is mysterious and again like the desert world stands out with its luminous lighting and it’s stars looming above you, making you feel like a small spec is this grand universe.
I played this on max settings (although you are limited to only 1080p, so don’t expect to play in 1440p or 4K) and I have got to admit the game from the get go was beautiful to look at, especially as this is an indie game. The engine they have used to build it has really added to the experience and it was a pleasure to look when I ventured of my spiritual journey.
Puzzles, Pathways & Platforming
The main aim of the game as I mentioned earlier, is to get to the centre of the different maps, to finally get to the dawn at the end. Along the way you have to solve puzzles ; connecting flower paths without crossing paths with the other flowers, creating golden bridges and using your abilities to get from one location to the next.
The puzzles are not hard at all, in fact they are probably some of the easiest puzzles I have ever faced – I never once felt like I was challenged in this game, but maybe that was because I had grown up playing platformers, and also maybe that was the point.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, this game’s main aim is to relax you and just help you feel one with your character and the world. Because these puzzles are so simple, I felt like I was just soothing my brain and not making it work overtime. It really is a game that you can just put on and complete to help relax you after a long day.
Your character has 2 real mechanics, one you get from the start which is a big jump which allows you to get over specific areas and get up onto higher ground. The other you unlock after the first area, which allows your character to absorb water and create temporary bridges to get to locations that are a bit further out for your jump. These mechanics are all the game has to offer and you use them in every level. There’s really not much more to say about these mechanics, they are fine and they do the job.
It’s a shame that after every level you don’t get a new ability that you have to use to solve the puzzles in the next area ( like you do in GRIS for example); just having 2 abilities kind of felt like you weren’t ever really evolving as a character and you were just doing the same thing over and over again.
Areia is around 2-3 hours long depending on how good you are at platformers, jumping puzzles, and general puzzle solving. There are also hidden objects along the way, which can extend this play time, but realistically you will be looking at around 2-3 hours.
Areia: Pathway to Frustration
I really quite enjoyed Areia for the first hour, I felt like I really did relax into this world, the soundtrack was oh so soothing, the visuals were pleasing to the eyes and the simplistic puzzles took away my stresses and I never felt like this was a taxing game. I really felt like this was a fantastic game, but past the first hour mark, I started noticing that this game had some pretty big problems that sadly lowered my score substantially.
The graphic design is great I still stand by that, but unfortunately, I felt like the animations themselves dragged this game down. Throughout the whole experience your character floats about the world, the jumps did not feel very solid and sometimes would just not jump the way I inetnded. Because I was looking at this character all the time, it sometimes made me forget how good the world around looked and instead I kept focusing on how floaty and poorly animated this character was.
The loose controls makes precise navigation frustrating too. Like I said, there were a few times where I would just plummet to the ground because my character didn’t clearly respond to what I was doing. The camera angles sometimes made it hard for me to see where exactly I was going to land, and sometimes the camera would pull so far out it became almost impossible to see where exactly my character was and how I was going to be able to complete any puzzles.
Another design problem that became apparent later on was, there were no real difference between areas everything was just one set tone of orange that it started to become a bit difficult to really work out where I was going and where I had been. There needed to just be some difference in texture, something floral or just something else to the world that made it clear where certain locations were, and to help guide the player so they always have an idea on how they can get out of certain locations and which way the path was going to take them.
I saw a few people getting themselves into situations where they got lost and stuck in an area with no real way offgetting out which is very frustrating and not something you want in a game that claims to be a relaxing journey.
I was also a bit disappointed that the world never really changes, there’s only ever the desert location, which added water to it later on, and the ethereal world. There was nothing else, and that for me was a really missed opportunity. It would have been nice to have started off in a desert world with puzzles, then go to a forest, then maybe an ice area or something, just to break it up a little and make the player feel like they were experiencing something new after completing an area. This tied with a real lack of story made me feel like this journey wasn’t really doing anything for me, I just needed that one thing to keep me going, be that a new area with new things to see and a real purpose to keep pushing forward. Unfortunately the game doesn’t have that, which for some won’t be a problem but for me it felt like a missed opportunity.
There are also a few bugs which again are pretty irritating. One bug will sometimes trigger after you form a golden bridge, it will get you stuck in the bridge and you will be unable to move. This means you have to reboot your last save and hope it doesn’t happen again, luckily it doesn’t usually happen twice in a row but just a heads up for if it does.
My final flaw within this game was that the hidden items in the world never really did anything, you could get to them and look at them, but I couldn’t seem to get them doing anything at all, they just felt like random items that you found along the way, and maybe if you understand Buddhist symbology maybe they would mean something to you but, as I don’t I don’t really understand why they were there or why I should go out and find them. Even a minor cutscene would have been nice but, sadly they just stand there.
Areia: Pathway to Dawn – Review Summary
Areia is a relaxing journey. It lacks any story which does feel like a real missed opportunity but its overall design has to be praised.
This is more of a clever concept, put into practice to see what they can do rather than a full release game, but I did enjoy it at times and it certainly does bring you into the world, especially in the first hour or so. With some more defined animations, a clearer concise world design and more variety in terms of abilities and worlds to venture around matched with new a engaging puzzles, this concept could be the next big platform game that would be amazing to play on PC and consoles.
For now though, it’s an interesting game that’ll grab you at first but loses its excitement the more you venture through it.
Aeria: Pathway to Dawn is only £7.99 on the steam store and I do feel like it is a good bargain if you are looking for something lighthearted to play. I wouldn’t go into this game thinking you’ll be experiencing the next best puzzle platformer in the industry. For me it’s slightly above average, but maybe with a second game, Areia could be great.
- A really relaxing experience
- Beautiful visuals
- Unique character design
- Great concept and use of Buddhist Symbology
- Lack of any real mechanics
- Floaty and loose controls
- Lack of variety in world design
- Lack of any gripping story