Developed by Madrid, Spain-based Brainwash Gang, Laika: Aged Through Blood has been released recently with the label of “motorvania” as defined by its makers. The game aims to breathe new life into the metroidvania universe and stands out with its sad story and dramatic background. If you’ve got your engines and bullets ready, let’s get moving towards the Laika review…
Laika: Aged Through Blood has more than a revenge story
Laika: Aged Through Blood takes us to a Hollow Knight universe with a Mad Max theme. In this western-inspired story, we are running after revenge and redemption in the wasteland. The main character Laika, the last hope of the village, is a mother who can talk to the spirits of the dead and come back to life when she is killed. Our main character, a jackal, represents the last bastion of resistance in the wasteland under the dictatorship of birds that burn everything in sight.
In this dystopian, Mad Max-like universe where misery, bloodshed and pain are never absent, Laika’s story begins when the blood spills over onto her family. Throughout her journey of revenge, which begins with the birds torturing her nephew and crucifying him in a cruel and sadistic way, you and Laika find many new reasons for revenge. Furthermore, because of what I’ve mentioned in the story so far, Laika: Aged Through Blood is just a story of revenge.
However, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was largely wrong about this production, which I initially thought the same way. In this narrative where we play a mother, we can see many emotions such as the instinct of protection, sadness, compassion, and pity together rather than just revenge. What we see through both the main missions and the side missions leads to an adventure that will make you cry your eyes out and yearn for revenge. You’d better have your napkins ready to wipe away the tears that will be dripping…
Metroidvania is poised to be the pioneer of the genre, but why?
Since the beginning of this review, we’ve been saying that Laika is breathing new life into the metroidvania genre and pioneering a new genre called motorvania, but we’ve never really touched on how it all happened. Firstly, I want to discuss how much fun the game becomes because we spend the entire game on the bike and our mount has a very detailed mechanical design. Because these are the two main things that distinguish the game from other pioneers like Ori and Hollow Knight.
Throughout our experience, we must steer, balance the engine and adjust our speed to perform a myriad of movements without interruption. The engine is basically effortless to use and takes a few minutes to get used to, but it takes some time to master. Because in Laika: Aged Through Blood, our motorcycle not only takes us from one point to another, but also performs different tasks such as blocking and reflecting attacks. We can even refill our magazines by doing flips in the air. We are always on our toes due to the game’s error-prone structure that doesn’t let the player breathe, even for a few seconds. The open world full of bird camps, patrol points and outposts made me tired during long periods of gameplay.
All factors, such as the character touching the ground due to your motorcycle being tilted during the jump, or being damaged by a small enemy attack, result in starting over from the previous save point. In this mechanic, which occurs because both enemy groups and our main character are designed to have a single life, we do not start again from distant points after death like in souls productions. For this reason, I can’t exaggerate the brutality of starting from a maximum of a few minutes away. It doesn’t create any situation that undermines the gameplay or makes it boring.
Using the development system and exploration feature
Laika: Aged Through Blood also features a mini craft system. The organs we take from our enemies are used as currency, while our deaths are penalized by a punishing loss of some of our money. In addition to our money, we must collect chests and loot from the environment to craft upgrades and designs. Since the world design of the production is suitable for acrobatics and there are tons of places to explore as a result of these movements, we can find the loot more easily through exploration. With new weapons and upgrades, plus the game’s ability to slow down time, the experience becomes a bit more ruthless and comfortable.
Still, there were sections that required us to perform several moves in unison, and there were times when I tried to perform 10 flawless moves in a row. There were tons of sections where we had to replenish ammunition at the right point, slow down time to reduce the number of enemies, and make full use of the parkour mechanics to reach the new save point. In addition to upgrades, there are also upgrades available at the blacksmith’s shop to help us reach unreachable points later in the game and to help with things like reloading magazines. There are also vendors selling maps to unlock parts of the game map without exploring it.
Laika: Aged Through Blood is based on art design and music
Laika, where the Mad Max theme is very much in the air: Aged Through, the backgrounds we left behind as we moved through the wastelands were truly breathtaking. The detailed art design and the accompanying melancholic soundtrack are a perfect fit for the universe and the setting. As breathtaking as the music is, we had to spend the first few hours with a few tracks because of the tracks we had to find to unlock other music in the game. The repetition of the song we listen to makes it boring.
The color palette is quite colorful and has sharp textures, and the story progresses so painfully that it creates a presentation contrary to what is expected. When I started to follow the game, I was fooled by the color palette and thought I was going to watch a beautiful mother-daughter adventure, but I was surprised by the dramatic story.
Laika: Aged Through Blood is a game that defies initial expectations, offering a deep narrative layered with emotions beyond mere revenge. Set in a dystopian world akin to “Hollow Knight” meets “Mad Max”, it weaves a tale of revenge, compassion, and maternal instinct, driven by its protagonist, Laika, a mother with spiritual connections. This “motorvania” innovates the metroidvania genre with its intricate motorbike mechanics, demanding constant player engagement and skill. Despite its intense gameplay, the game’s art design and music deeply enrich the experience, though its limited initial music tracks may feel repetitive. The vibrant art contrasts sharply with the grim storyline, misleading players into expecting a lighthearted journey, only to be drawn into a poignant, dramatic saga.
Laika: Aged Through Blood
Laika: Aged Through Blood" is a game that surpasses expectations by delivering a rich, emotional narrative set in a dystopian world reminiscent of "Hollow Knight" and "Mad Max". It tells a story of revenge, compassion, and maternal instinct, centered around Laika, a mother with spiritual connections. The game innovates the metroidvania genre with complex motorbike mechanics, requiring active player engagement and skill. While the intense gameplay stands out, the game's artistic design and music add depth to the experience. However, the limited number of music tracks may become repetitive. The game's vibrant artistry belies its dark storyline, initially suggesting a lighthearted adventure but ultimately unfolding into a moving, dramatic tale.
Storytelling and Narrative Depth
Visual and Artistic Style
Music and Sound Design
Gameplay Mechanics and Control Issues
Performance and Technical Aspects