Adventure through Away‘s rich world, recruiting NPCs and defeating quirkly enemies in this cheerful, feel-good FPS.
Away: Journey to the Unexpected is possibly one of the happiest-looking games I’ve ever experienced at a consumer event. It’s nigh on impossible to find a flaw in its beautiful artwork: a fusion of cheerful nineties Saturday-morning TV and popular daytime anime series.
It’s a roguelite by design, a first-person one where you can recruit, or even play as, many of the quirky creatures and characters you meet along the way. Perhaps most importantly, though, the game is pitched as an adventure — with your journeys through its world spent delving through abandoned mines, deep caverns, lush woodlands and arid deserts. The (almost over-animated) enemies you fight on the way underline the strange setting further; cartoon takes on creatures reminiscent of Pokémon battle you when you’re not taking down creatures in giant mech walkers. Away: Journey to the Unexpected’s world toes that line extreme well, and all the while each of the creatures are a joy to view, meet and beat.
I was lucky enough to play through a couple of short runs in the game while at EGX earlier in the year. It’s hard to drag yourself away from the colourful world, something I’ve only found with a handful of games — Rayman Origins and Seasons After Fall among them… It’s perhaps worthy of note that both the latter and Away feature team members from the former.
When I first heard about Away, which has been rattling around in some form for a couple of years now, the most curious feature was the party system— where you can have up to three other entities traveling along with you. This is handled extremely well, with each character paired to a D-pad button, letting you quickly swap between characters — each with their own attacks, actions and skills — in the middle of combat.
This makes for an experience similar to old, dungeon-crawler RPGs (a la Wizardry and Dungeons of Grimlock) but with a fast-paced experience. It’s fun, and gives a lot of room for elemental effects and buff mechanics — similar to how players might change a weapon in a first-person shooter.
Perhaps that, and its wonderful art-style, are the reason the game lists its genre as ‘Feel-good FPS’.
Away: Journey to the Unexpected is currently planned for a Q1 2019 release. It is targeting the PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch platforms. Those interested in finding out more about the game can follow developer Aurelien Regard (The Next Penelope) on Twitter, @AurelRegard.