Brainwash Dead takes us to the wastelands. LAIKA: Aged Through Blood. A motorvania in which we will take the path of revenge!
As soon as I got my hands on the LAIKA: Aged Through Blood demo I really had no idea what to expect. I didn’t want to spoil anything, so I only had a vague idea of the protagonist and the fact that the action took place on a motorbike.
Just to give a first idea, LAIKA: Aged Through Blood is a western-inspired motorvania set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is the story of a tribe oppressed by occupying forces. All together with the story of a coyote warrior mother, who embarks on an endless path of revenge to take back what belongs to her people.
In the next paragraphs we will briefly analyze the demos, so as to give you an idea about the title. Let me just say that I was extremely fascinated by it.
From a Simple Idea to Complexity.
Remember those Flash games where you rode a stuntman on a motorcycle and had to do stunts? We could do 360° back and front flips and had to make sure the pilot landed correctly. Well, LAIKA: Aged Through Blood bases its movement on that mechanic. We have LT for acceleration, one button for braking and another for changing direction. In fact, the left analog is used to rotate the motorbike forwards or backwards when the character is in the air.
It doesn’t end there, the gameplay becomes even more layered and adds a lot of irons to the fire. The button used to change direction can, with the right timing, repel projectiles. This ability has limited use and requires a forward backflip to recharge it. An offensive tool is the rifle. By holding RT we slow down time and by aiming with the right analog we can fire on enemies. Obviously the weapon also has limited shots and to reload this time requires a backflip.
And it Doesn’t End Here
In addition to the complexity of the controls LAIKA: Aged Through Blood is certainly not a simple game. Let’s remember that it is a metroidvania where side scrolling must be managed with these peculiar mechanics. Furthermore, the areas have strong vertical development and are dotted with trampolines and jumps. We must manage the motorbike both to land safely and to use it as a shield from enemy blows. Let’s not forget the flips to recharge weapons and abilities. In all of this we can be killed with one shot. Fortunately, the distribution of totems where it is possible to save is very generous and makes the gameplay less frustrating.
The rifle is also used to reach materials that will be used for future power ups. The corpse run mechanic is inevitable. Killed enemies will drop guts and will serve as currency for upgrades. Once killed we will lose a quantity of guts which we will have to recover as per tradition.
The motorbike is like our horse and in some areas we can park and continue on foot. They are usually safe zones where you can interact with NPCs, some of which will have quests to entrust to us and vendors.
A Little Mad Max and a Little Western
In addition to the complex and detailed gameplay LAIKA: Aged Through Blood has a really strong style. The warrior who fights ruthless enemies who have no mercy for either creatures or the world can be read in various ways. On the one hand, a post apocalyptic world with Mad Max style characters. On the other hand, the tribe has a shamanic culture similar to Native Americans, gripped by creatures that want to destroy them and their territory.
Violence and gore are part of this world, and the violence is raw and truly spares no one! The boss fights I’ve seen are really well managed and are spectacular with their acrobatics and attacks. They require coordination, timing, strategy and aiming. As complex as they are, they are not frustrating but encourage you to do better and believe me, once you overcome them you will be truly satisfied. Last but not least are the really well curated cutscenes and songs that immerse the player perfectly in the world.
Although short, LAIKA: Aged Through Blood demo really packs a lot of punch and really seems to be a promising title. I hope that the complete title will always remain at this level. If you love challenges and strong stories, at least try the demo.