Disclaimer | At the time of writing, Faerie Afterlight is slated for release in 2022. This review only covers the latest version (0.7.1) of the demo available for download on the Faerie Afterlight Steam page. All views and opinions that are expressed in this article is not representative of the game’s full release.
Year after year, major publishers such as the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Activision-Blizzard and to name several more release teaser, announcement, gameplay and cinematic trailers that give us a good preview of the next big AAA title and IP to stoke the flames of the hype train even more with varying degrees of success. Some being more successful than others upon the full release at the end of the year, but still bringing in tens of millions of dollars in sales.
And that is a pretty big reason why I’ve always leaned towards indie titles and releases rather than the next God of War release instead (though I’m still looking forward to that!). Rather than allocating a good chunk of the budget to marketing efforts to build up as much hype as they can to draw in early pre-order sales than the big-budgeted publishers. Studios like these are small in nature comprised of a team of passionate people who put in their heart and soul to creating the best game they can. All they need is a trailer that show the final stages of the game, and people will start rolling on in!
However, if you’re looking for some real diamonds in the rough in the world of indie gaming, then you’ve got to look deeper. Case in point, itch.io is basically a gold mine of some of the best game titles in very early-access that you’ve never heard of before. Many of them even giving the high-profile indie games a run for their own money and even releasing full games for free!
Why am I bringing up itch.io? Well that’s where I’ve first discovered Faerie Afterlight and downloaded the alpha. Shortly after being underwhelmed by the entirety of the game. It was laughably simple and incredibly barebones, but it at least the artwork looked nice.
Now, fast forward two years later, I was assigned by superior to check out an indie title by the name of Faerie Afterlight and the updated demo that they released months ago. Scoffing at her and confident that I could churn out this review in an hour tops, I downloaded the latest build of the game and played through its entirety within an hour.
And honestly speaking? The brand new 0.7.1 demo just took everything I’ve complained about the original alpha build and just honed it to perfection. Vastly improving it in gameplay and puzzle areas. Faerie Afterlight is starting to look like a proper indie title now, and with the full release being scheduled sometime this year, I can’t wait to see what Clay Game Studio brings to the table in itch.io classics!
Right now, there isn’t much in the way of story as the game is still in incredibly early development. But I’ll do my best in trying to describe the plot of Faerie Afterlight with all the information I can scrounge up.
Faerie Afterlight takes place in the fantasy world of Lumina. Already, you start to see the corruption of an unseen evil force that has ruined the once beautiful land with countless environmental hazards and dangerous monsters that are out to kill anything that moves.
And that’s where you come in. You play as two characters that you can control separately throughout the entire game to progress. The first being Kimo, known as the ‘Lightbringer’ with a myriad of abilities to dispose of his enemies and lead from ledge to ledge away from trouble. The second half of the duo is Wispy, a fairy-like entity who helps Kimo in manipulating the terrain or taking control of hostile enemies to progress the levels with ease.
With this unlikely and inseparable duo, they are on a quest to restore peace and order to the lands of Lumina and must travel the infested caverns, waters, and ghostly cities to gather the shards of Light and return the land to its former glory. All while facing against terrifying adversaries either in self-defense or as a pacifist.
My early impressions of Faerie Afterlight when I played the original alpha was that despite the incredibly simple gameplay, the artwork and aesthetic of the game still looked pretty good at the very least.
But now that I have seen the updated visuals of the new demo version, my eyes widened in awe. Clay Game Studio has supercharged the art style of Faerie Afterlight with solid detail and bright vibrant colors. Although it looks cutesy in nature, there is a lot of thought put into every asset of the game with a great deal of detail in even the most minor of objects. Such as the shrubbery covered in a thick coat of leaves, to some pieces of architecture that is decorated with some very intricate designs. Many of them heavily influenced by Indonesian culture, which is where Clay Game Studio is also based in.
The background is also something I think also deserves some praise from me as well. Things such as shrubbery, rocks, and fully-animated waterfalls constantly shifting around as you travel across different parts of the game makes you feel as if you’re part of the world itself and it feels alive with every step you take.
Even though this is still a very early build of the final game to be released in the near future, the team behind the art for Faerie Afterlight has done an absolutely stellar job in creating a rich, bright and vibrant world. And if this is what they are capable of in creating this amazing first level, then I can’t wait for the future levels and how they’ll look like once it’s released!
Jumping back into the game, everything immediately felt very familiar yet very different at the same time. The controls are still the same, you control Kimo by moving left and right, jump and attack. While Wispy is controlled independently through another set of keys and can absorb energy from hard to reach areas. However, a new mechanic has been introduced where Wispy can take control of enemies and use them alternative ways for you to progress through different sections of the game.
The new demo version is no longer relegated to jumping across platforms and defeating enemies that stand in your way. Now, there is a lot of thought put into the level designs of the entire map and introduces new enemy types and puzzles.
In addition to that, with Wispy’s powers being unlocked for good, this opens up a lot of gameplay potential for you to properly enjoy Faerie Afterlight the way Clay Game Studio intended. As you move into new areas of the map, you encounter different points for Wispy to interact with. This ranges to points of interest such as save points, shrines to replenish Kimo’s energy for more powerful attacks, activating certain parts of the map, taking control of enemies, and even manipulating the environment around you.
Kimo, on the other hand, has also changed quite a bit as well. Kimo now has access to an energy blast that he can unleash huge amounts of damage to enemies as long as he still has enough energy. Right off the bat, Kimo already has access to two abilities that helps him get to different parts of the area. The first being Spider’s Legs (Which will be obtained via the spider boss fight) which grants Kimo the ability to slide onto walls and wall jump. And the second one being Beetle’s Horns (Obtained via boss fight in the demo), where Kimo is granted the ability to dash across large distance and reach far corners.
The first puzzles that Clay Game Studio has created is a series of platforms to jump to another part of the world. The first type of platform that is purple is color and disappears the moment you set foot on them, requiring you to move quickly to the next one, and the second being green ones where Wispy can control and toggle alternating sets to appear and disappear for Kimo to stand on. In each area, there is a barrier that you must unlock with two glyphs that are scattered throughout the map before proceeding to the next puzzle.
Gameplay wise, Faerie Afterlight now felt like an entirely different game than the original alpha version I’ve played. It’s still a simple and easy game to play, but the introduction of new gameplay mechanics, puzzles, and platforming sections make everything a more enjoyable and interesting experience while also offering a fair amount of challenge to make things a little bit more exciting. I found the boss fight with the beetle to be incredibly fun. Jumping and toggling a set of platforms on and off to evade a dangerous attack was an entertaining challenge and it took me a second attempt to beat it seriously. And if this is how good the beetle boss fight is, I can’t imagine how the spider one would be and the future bosses in the full game.
Revisiting Faerie Afterlight after forgetting about it a few years ago, I’m glad I did and it reminded me on why I love the indie gaming scene so much as compared to the AAA titles that make them look microscopic. You can already see the massive amounts of love, passion and above all, patience to create a great title that speaks for itself through playing them by your own.
Clay Game Studio definitely have a standout indie title coming out this year. And with only months away from completion and being available to purchase on all platforms for the masses, I look forward to the full release coming out in the coming months!