There are many MMORPG’s the market, especially when it comes to Aeria games. They are among several companies that serve as a sort of MMORPG factory, spitting out just as many as they can in a given year. When I started to take a look at Aura Kingdom I was a bit suspicious. After all, there are so many anime style games out there, most of which have either failed miserably, or have employed the use of psychological tactics to ensure that people pay for the extras. Well, I’m not going to say that Aura Kingdoms doesn’t have a cash shop, but it at LEAST has the fun gameplay to back up the player’s investment. So, should you spend some time in Aura Kingdom, or will the entire thing be a bust? We have to say absolutely yes.
First of all, what is Aura Kingdom? What sets it apart from other MMORPG’s on the market? I found that the game, instead of simply dropping you into an environment like a fish out of water, actually makes you feel as if you have a reason for being there. Of course, people know your name just like any other MMO, but in addition to that, I found that the character interactions were not nearly as shallow as they tended to be in other MMO’s. For example, during the early stages of the game, there is a mount quest, but you don’t actually know you’re on a mount quest, it just sort of works its way into the game naturally. After you get the mount, it actually continues to play into the story, which is actually quite interesting. Never mind that the mount is an ostrich.
First starting out, you are prompted to create a character, of course, and I found that the game had a plethora of different character classes to choose from. Sadly it only had two genders, but hey, props for not gender locking. As I scrolled through the characters I found something utterly amazing: the game had a Bard class. That’s right, a Bard. I can count on my hands how many MMO’s actually have an honest to Talos bard class, and you know what? I simply love the idea of killing random mobs with the power of music. It’s like being Michael Jackson. Now if only I could moonwalk while I deal out waves of delicious death in an imaginary world. Okay maybe we’re getting off track.
I found that the game had few core skills for the class, or at least the bard class, but hey, there’s no reason to make it too complicated. It gets a little better though as there is a skill tree which allows you to boost certain attributes for your character. I, for example chose a line that would allow me to increase my experience gain. Others may allow you to handle magic better or give you more physical strength. On that note, I also found that the game allows you to choose which attributes to level up rather than simply choosing for you. That said, it is possible to mess up your character build, but that is the only hardcore attribute the game has.
I don’t want to mince words here, the game is for casuals rather than hardcore gamers. First of all, you can choose to have an Eidolon accompany you, which is a spirit that fights by your side at all times. Of course in the beginning the NPC’s see your Eidolon and continually try to swat it like a fly. In a world where these spiritual creatures are common, it is strange just how many people don’t seem to know about them. Still, the Eidolon is very useful, and you can even ask it questions. For example I asked mine what kind of boyfriends it likes. The answer wasn’t very straight forward, but now I’m having trouble dismissing the image of Eidolons having weird astral romances.
The tutorial area of the game is small, but you know what? It’s pretty darn gorgeous. I would dare say they’re trying to imitate the stylistic imagery of Guild Wars 2, only in anime form. The areas of the game didn’t seem like large insignificant sandboxes for you to level up in. In fact, many of them are small, and while they do have creatures to grind for exp, the reasoning behind the quests is actually pretty logical. For example, rushing out to kill a set of creatures to clear the way for the lumberjacks, or getting a certain enzyme for a medical experiment. These are much better and sometimes more amusing than your standard fetch quests. In fact, one quest actually led me to beat a group of sleeping lumberjacks with a hammer simply because they were asleep on the job. Of course there was a legitimate reason to be discovered later, but you know what? It was still funny.
In addition to being a beautiful environment I found that it was not plagued by invisible walls like most other Free to Play MMO’s. You know exactly what I’m talking about; you start to explore an area and next thing you know, it’s like the developers suddenly ran out of time, money, and motivation. Either that or an area didn’t actually pass QA testing and they simply threw up an invisible wall to help them pretend it never happened. In Aura Kingdom I was able to pretty much explore..well…anywhere. In Port Skandia I was able to hop over chest high wall and run INTO the water surrounding the port. The only thing I couldn’t do? Swim down. To give you an idea of how confident these developers were with their environment, one of the earliest skills I learned was gliding. The game actually features a double jump, and when you reach the height of your jump, you can unleash your glide skill which allows you to literally glide across the map. Depending on the speed of your run and the height of your jump, you can actually keep it going for some time. In fact, it’s quite fun to jump from the highest point on the map and see just how long you can keep it up. Just a word of warning, however, if your computer specs are low, taking in the entire world map in a single view can wreak havoc on your processor.
Finally, the game features an outstanding guild system and unlike some games I’ve played, the recruiting board is actually useful. I did however mention that this game is for casuals, and I meant it. Okay, so what do I mean by that exactly? When you find a guild that you like, you can actually join it without question. In most other games I’ve actually had to submit to a cavity search from the guild leader before I was allowed to take part in any sort of guild activity, but in this game, I was allowed to join by simply clicking ‘join’. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen, but it most certainly does help if you are in a hurry or just want to get to know a guild before you really talk to the leader or any of the other members.
There is plenty of fun to be had here. From crafting, to weapon enhancements, and generally building your character to your own specifications. Though it is certainly a casual gamer’s paradise, it is one that you might enjoy in between hardcore games like Everquest 2 or WoW. Yes, I called WoW hardcore; it takes a lot more to learn than your average MMORPG. In addition to that, this game is absolutely perfect for those who want to play out an amazing anime story. The graphics are beautiful, the characters are in place, and your story in this world is ready to be told. The only question, is whether or not YOU are ready.
I certainly enjoyed by time with this MMORPG and I’ll go back any time, despite the obvious cash shop. I found that the game is not pay to win, and anything you can buy, is simply there to help you accelerate your progress. Overall, the game can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates MMO’s, Anime, and gaming in general. Coupled with smooth gameplay, great cinematics, and the ability to glide all the way to hell and back, you have here a game that will stand the test of time. With a few friends, I imagine anyone can get lost in the adventure whether they go at it on the back of an ostrich or one of the many other mounts the game has to offer. It’s a short download supported by the Aeria client, so get on it – you have nothing to lose by trying, and a whole experience to miss out on by ignoring it.
+Beautiful stylized graphics
+Fun Character Development
-I’ll let you know if I come up with any.