[Nintendo Switch] Aeon Drive Review
Aeon Drive from 2Awesome Studio and Critical Reflex is a fast-paced 2D action platformer on Nintendo Switch set over a neon-colored landscape. Learn more in our Aeon Drive review!
Aeon Drive from 2Awesome Studio and Critical Reflex is a fast-paced 2D action platformer on Nintendo Switch set over a neon-colored landscape. You’ll be exploring the cyber-punk city of Neo Barcelona as Jackelyne, a young space ranger who just happens to come from another dimension! As expected, she’s working hard to try and find a way to return home, but after something goes wrong, her spaceship crash-lands in the middle of Neo Barcelona. She must, therefore, locate all of the Drive Cores to be able to fix her ship and return to her dimension. Oh, and she also has to find them quickly to stabilize them before the whole city explodes!
You can play Aeon Drive either in its Campaign Mode – which is the main Story Mode – or go into the Competitive Mode that will pit you against other players as you try to show who’s really the best. You can set the number of laps for this, set a timer, and if players will respawn at the start or at a checkpoint. You can also select which area you’ll be playing through, between Ramblas Hideout, Eixample Rooftops, Maremagnum Black Market, Park Guell, and Mont Juic. Up to four players can go into the Competitive Mode, which makes for some very hectic experiences!
Campaign Mode will allow you to learn more about the world of Aeon Drive and how Neo Barcelona just oozes personality with its neon-infused areas. You can pick one of five colors for Jackelyne, and then you’ll get the initial cutscene. After crash-landing into Neo Barcelona, the local authorities place you in a cell. You can’t stay put since if you don’t hurry up, the cores will explode, so you’ll need to get out of there ASAP and recover your tools before it’s too late! Since you only have 30 seconds to stabilize the cores, your AI companion finds a solution to the problem: it will take you into a thirty-second time pocket that can be renewed with the energy you pick along the way.
You will move around with the left analog stick, jumping and wall jumping with the B button. You can throw a dagger with the A button and can then press the A button again to instantly be teleported towards the dagger! As expected, this is a skill that will be very useful for the crazy platforming segments you’ll go through. You’ll also have a sword, which you can use to attack your enemies by pressing the Y button. You can also slide by pressing down on the left analog stick or the D-Pad and pressing the R button.
The energy you collect will be added to a counter on the upper right corner of the screen, which you’ll need to keep an eye on since time is not added automatically to the aforementioned 30 seconds! You must press the X button for every charge you want to add to the overall timer to boost it by five seconds. If you end up making what feels like a mistake during a run, such as missing a jump towards a platform, you better hope that you have enough energy left to add some extra time or that the developers were kind enough to leave some extra energy at the bottom of the pit for you to use!
There are ten sectors in total to explore – Ramblas Hideout, Gothic Quarter, Eixample Rooftops, Gran Via, Maremagnum Black Market, Rambla de Mar, Park Guell, Carmelo, Mont Juic, and Sants – and you must clear the stages in each previous sector to unlock the next one. The difficulty will ramp up at a steady pace to test what you manage to learn from every mistake you make, but it will never feel unfair or overwhelm you.
For every stage that you play, you can try and get your name into the online leaderboard for it, based on how fast you were at completing the level, how many times you died, how many full time charges you managed to complete, and if you grabbed any of the collectible diamonds along the way. Thanks to this, there’s going to be a ton of replay value from Aeon Drive as you replay stages to find the best route to take to lower your time, maximize the number of full time charges you collect, and how you can grab a diamond without spending too much time backtracking to the main path. Oh, and there will also be other hidden items to grab – perhaps a glowing hot dog or a large cube? – so keep your eyes open! You can visit the Collectibles section on the main menu to get a better look and description of the special collectibles you find, and can also get a small voice-over from Jackelyne talking about it.
While the main gameplay loop asks something very simple – get Jackelyne from Point A to Point B – there are going to be plenty of obstacles for you to avoid and enemies that you’ll have to destroy. There are the always classic bottomless pits and the super sharp spikes, or the rotating buzzsaws that move left and right over the floor, but you also need to avoid the laser pillars and the many enemies that are flying or walking around each area… because a single hit can destroy you!
Aeon Drive is a very fun and challenging 2D action platformer with a speedrunning kick to it. The whole “traveler from another dimension” and “recover the cores before they go boom” things are good premises to establish how you only have 30 seconds to complete each stage and how it takes a lot of energy to keep the 30 seconds time pocket working. It’s a very entertaining ride with bite-sized stages that will keep you coming back for “just one more stage” over and over again. Aeon Drive is out on Nintendo Switch with a $14.99 asking price.
This Aeon Drive review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Critical Reflex.