Laika: Aged Through Blood Review – The Road Warrior

Laika: Aged Through Blood Review

Every so often, a unique blend of video games amalgamates to create something special. Golf Story combined sports and RPG mechanics to construct an unforgettable experience, whereas Crypt of the Necrodancer fused roguelike and rhythm systems to create a fresh take on the genre. Laika: Aged Through Blood aims to deliver a Metroidvania game like no other. With its Trials-influenced motorbike traversal, bullet-time gunplay and a Mad-Max-inspired world, will the wide range of systems unite to provide an epic adventure?

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you play as Laika, a tribe warrior whose goal is to protect the ones she loves. After learning that your daughter’s close friend is publicly crucified by the oppressive Birds, you set off on an epic journey of vengeance. The talented developers, Brainwash Gang, manage to intersect the brutality with touching moments and objectives which helps to create an emotional hook. You’ll encounter a variety of weighty themes that take you to dark places. These are well-presented and offer interesting tales that complement the vicious nature of the main objective. While the stories within are interesting, the delivery of these is quite basic. Some animated sequences culminate key moments, but the majority of the narrative is told through standard text boxes.

Mad Max: Fury Bike

Roaming through the barren world on your motorbike is an absolute blast. You can ride at full speed, hitting ramps and flipping on to the next area, however, some points are much more technical and require adept control of your vehicle. Due to the physics-based system, you will need to consider where you shift your weight and how much to accelerate to climb steep hills and leap from platform to platform. The incredible level design houses an array of courses buried within the natural world. This makes each trip to a new area an absolute thrill as you discover new and interesting routes to your destination.

Littered throughout are pesky ducks who are intent on gunning you down. With a well-timed press of the skid button, you can send projectiles back from whence they came, leaving bodies in your path. In addition, you can use your bike as a shield to block bullets as you soar above the heads of foes. Upon pulling out a weapon, you can enter bullet time and take out a number of enemies at once. The bike is tied to this as you must reload and recharge through front and back flips. This is a great way to link the different elements to make a unique experience.

A Formidable Foe

Bosses are large and grotesque. They vary in design and offer a suitable challenge that tests your bike and weapons proficiency. Some lean more on one technique than the other. For example, early on you’ll fight a creature that zips across the sky and you must block the bullets with your bike and shoot the enemies, whereas another encounter sees you being chased and activating cogs to progress through an environment while shooting the creature. The sheer variety makes each battle a frantic fight which will keep you hooked throughout.

Lakia: Aged Through Blood is tough. You’ll die a lot but many of the occasions will be due to fumbling the controls. It can be difficult to do the range of maneuvers as it requires precision. Also, it can be hard to decipher the orientation of your bike which can result in failing the landing. Doing so results in you respawning at the last shrine you visited and attempting the section again. This leads to a trial-and-error gameplay loop that challenges you to create slick sequences that wipe out several foes in frantic, blood-filled moments. While it does take time to master the mechanics, when you do, it feels incredible to race around and take out enemies like the T-800 from Terminator 2.

Delicious Design

The presentation as a whole is fantastic. The chunky sprites and muted colors capture the notion of trekking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Although the setting is familiar, the use of anthropomorphic inhabitants helps to give further identity to the game. Each area you visit feels distinct yet works as a region in a larger world, making your journey varied. Amplifying the creative art direction is the melancholy soundtrack which includes songs by Beícoli. Every track is emotive and adds a foreboding atmosphere to proceedings. Together these elements unite to create an innovative and captivating title.

Laika: Aged Through Blood is a game like no other. While its influences are clear, the manner in which these aspects have been combined is masterful. Traversing the thoughtfully designed world and skillfully eliminating enemies feels great. Although it can take a while to truly get to grips with the mechanics, when it clicks, it’s incredible.

*** An Xbox Series X key provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Fantastic Environment Design
  • Clever Combination of Mechanics
  • Wonderful Soundtrack

The Bad

  • Can Get Quite Difficult
  • You’ll Die A Lot
  • Controls Are A Little Finicky