Reviewed On: PC

Maybe it’s just because of the generation I grew up in, but there’s a certain love I have for platformers. From the classics to the new style that indies bring to the genre, I’ve played my fair share. In fact, I’ve reviewed a few here on TwoDashStash. The biggest (and my favorites) being Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Glare.

Publisher: Tech Dealer
Developer: Duaik Entretenimento
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Genre: Indie, Platformer
Release Date: August 15, 2014

My latest journey into the platforming genre is a lovely little indie game called Aritana and the Harpy’s Feather. Much like the games I named above, Aritana is a vicious platformer that will make you earn your stripes. However, some things bring it down from the level of greatness those games achieved.

The story of Aritana is told through very simplistic 2D cutscenes, there’s no dialogue in them, but you get the jist of the story. You are Aritana, a young boy in a small tribe. Your Chieftain gets possessed by a powerful spirit and must be healed soon. A ritual your tribe knows can help him, but you’re missing a key ingredient. Yep, the Harpy’s Feather. Against the wishes of the wise man you grab a staff and rush off to the highest mountain to get the feather and save the Chieftain.

Ok, I’ll be honest, I read the game description to learn most of that. Does it hurt the story that it’s not explained more? A little, but you get enough of a feeling to care so no true harm done.

The gameplay of Aritana and the Harpy’s Feather is one fans of the platforming genre will be familiar with. Running, jumping, climbing, and using your Shaman’s Staff to defeat enemies and trigger effects in the area. Again, something you’re familiar with. What Aritana adds to the formula though is the use of stances.

In the beginning you have one stance. As you progress you get more. In the first instance for example you get what’s called the “Agility” stance, or speed stance. What this does, is your character puts the staff on his back and thus allows him to run faster and jump higher. This comes in handy when you have to make it to a certain platform a good distance away.

Also, what you see depends on what stance you’re in. If you’re in the default stance you’ll see enemies for what they are. If you are in agility however, the enemies will be seen as balls of glowing light. Both have their ups and downs, but balancing when to use one stance over another is key to advancing.

Another cool thing is that certain advancements happen not just to you but to your stances. To the degree that a single power-up can give you a new ability in each stance. It’s a simple thing, but it does add depth to the gameplay.

how high you can jump depends on how much you've advanced

How high you can jump depends on how much you’ve advanced

A small problem though occurs as you play; the stances change depending on what actions you do. Meaning if you jump in your agility form to go attack an enemy, you can press the attack button and return to your strength stance to do the attack. The problem occurs that when you want a certain stance but need to change it quickly, sometimes it doesn’t work how you want it too. This leads to frustration, which is deadly in this game.

Speaking of deadly, between the enemies you face and the world you travel, the realm of Aritana is a very dangerous place. Like any good platformer, Aritana has plenty of obstacles and creatures for you to bound around, blast through, or straight up avoid. Aritana adds more difficulty to your game by having enemies that cannot be killed, obstacles that sometimes come out of nowhere, and in rare cases, mixing the two together.

To me, this is the biggest drawback of Aritana. I’ve played numerous platformers, and many have been difficult. But Aritana takes it to a seemingly absurd level. I’m not new to precision platforming, but for some reason I just couldn’t get some of the things they needed me to do without great effort, trial and error, and time consumption. Rage quit was a serious option in this game, and that’s tough for me to admit because I don’t like doing that.

The good news for those who are dedicated is that there are plenty of save points to hold your progress. Despite it’s cute exterior, this game does not make it easy for you. It’s out to get you! Which is a problem when consuming lives is almost a guarantee.

I remember in DKC I never had to worry about running out of lives cause they gave you so many, which was great cause you needed them! Aritana doesn’t do that, it makes you earn them in one way or another. That’s fine for difficulty, but it can cost you in the end when you need just one more life to get it…and you run out.

Speaking of “being out to get you”, there is also a creature called the Mapinguari that really wants to get you. It’s your boss fight that you’ll do repeatedly, and right from the first encounter you’ll know that this is no joke. This thing is scary powerful, and if you’re not in tune with Aritana’s abilities, you will lose.

aritana boss fight

Trust me, you don’t want to see him up close

Ok, let’s step away from the difficulty to talk about some really cool stuff in Aritana. First and foremost, the game looks good. I often find that the best platformers don’t just have tight gameplay, but have deep, rich, worlds to look at. Aritana definitely has that. The depth of the world is fantastic. From river levels where you can see far behind the trees, to the cave levels where you see drawings on the walls, and then the mountain levels, it’s all top notch visually.

Another cool thing is the enemies. They all are detailed and some of them are just plain stunning. Though I hate spiders personally, the creatures in this game were beautifully modeled and almost made me glad I couldn’t kill them…almost.

Also, I want to note the sound design. The music is very nice, and feels right at home in the environments. Aritana himself has some interesting sound effects as well. He reminds you that you are human, and doing certain things will hurt him, or kill him. I’ll admit, it was annoying to hear him screaming as I rapid fire died, but it is a nice touch.

In the end, Aritana and the Harpy’s Feather is for those who love the challenge of platforming and want to push their skills to the limits. If you prefer a casual affair, I honestly wouldn’t recommend this. Not because it’s bad, it’s not, it’s just very difficult. You will lose hair playing this game.

My score must be based both on how much I enjoyed the game, how I would describe it to other games, and what the developers put into it. On one hand, Aritana is a beautifully crafted game that dares us to try and make it without dying. On the other hand, you will die a lot, and between controls and schemes that sometimes blindside you, enemies and obstacles that will frustrate you, and the sometimes lack of explanations that can confuse you, I have to judge it accordingly.

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Aritana and the Harpy's Feather Review - For the Hardcore Platformers
Aritana and the Harpy's Feather is definitely for the hardcore platformer crowd...but probably not for anyone else.
Pros
  • Visually beautiful
  • Interesting gamplay mechanics
  • True to it's precision platforming roots...
Cons
  • Controls can be finicky
  • Certain mechanics feel wasted
  • The difficulty will turn off many players
3.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

About The Author

Guest Writer
  • Funkdelic

    What a nice review man! Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this one, trully happy that you enjoyed the game.
    Have a nice day.

    • Todd Black

      it was my pleasure.