The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
At first glance, Chasing Aurora looks like a prototypical independent game. It has a great art style, pleasant music, and an easy to control but difficult to master flying hook. Unfortunately, a serious lack of content holds it back.
Chasing Aurora wastes no time getting you airborne. Before I even jumped into the game, I found myself playing with the controls, gently flying a bird around the menu screen. Flapping wings to soar through the air and diving gracefully into the water below felt fluid and bred excitement for what the game had in store. Once I started, though, the lack of content made it apparent that there just wasn’t much to do.
The multiplayer modes are Chasing Aurora’s main focus. Up to five players can control five birds to take part in a handful of multiplayer games. One mode has players chasing the player who has the GamePad. This player has Aurora’s gem, which he or she can drop and hide somewhere on the map, or just hold onto while the Wii Remote players chase him or her. Another mode has all the players on the same playing field fighting over Aurora’s gem. The best mode is basically freeze tag. The GamePad player can freeze the other players by touching them, and the non-GamePad players can unfreeze one another. When all the non-GamePad players are frozen, the GamePad player wins.
None of these games feel fully fleshed out or fair. With the exception of the mode where all the birds are chasing after Aurora’s gem, the GamePad player seems to universally have the upper hand. In the freeze tag mode, the GamePad player has the opponents marked on their screen, and the Wii Remote players all share one screen, forcing them to stick together. This meant that whenever the GamePad player was able to freeze one person, the rest were nearby and easy to freeze. The GamePad player always received the most points in my experiences, and after a number of games, my multiplayer partners and I were struggling to figure out how points were doled out to the losers.
The single-player offering in Chasing Aurora amounts to flying your bird through outlined tracks for a high score, of which there are no online leaderboards to compare against others. There is a path in place with gates marking your goals, and it’s up to you to hit them as fast as you can before time runs out. If you want to fight your high scores, there is a reason to return to these races, but otherwise you can get through all of them in under an hour. You can only fly around in a circle so many times before you want something more.
Chasing Aurora has some cool elements, but overall I found the experience lacking. Flying the birds feels fluid, and the art style and character design of the birds are very enticing, but this game needs to be more than an incredibly shallow single-player experience and half-baked multiplayer modes.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.