Armed with Wings: Rearmed – PC

There’s something quite evocative about a setting that’s only black and white. As a result of early technology, the first sidescrolling spaceship I ever commanded was a tiny, bright triangle against the nothingness of space. Games don’t have the same historical timeframe as film, however, and aesthetic conventions never became tied to technology in the same way. My first impression of Armed with Wings: Rearmed was that it would probably be bleak and Limbo-esque.

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Interestingly, the combination of frosty mountains in the background and gorgeous animations creates a dramatic feel to combat without any negative connotation. My character is whirly and graceful, but so powerful. It is a joy to play because timing and skill is learned alongside a visual feast of movement, enhanced by the strong silhouettes. Combat begins simply but soon relies on refl exes, observation and use of surrounding terrain features.

What begins as, seemingly, an action platformer quickly becomes increasingly puzzle focused. Yes, you can engage enemies directly, but a smarter way might be to smash boulders and launch the resulting rocks with your katana, like an expert ice hockey player, from a safe distance. I absolutely  love how the level design challenged me. Initially thinking, “Surely this is a bug. This is impossible,” always gives way to, “Oh, I see. That’s really clever.”

Puzzling also uses a little bird who you can send a limited distance from you. I would tell you the kinds of things it can do, but that would spoil the way experimentation leads to understanding of the puzzle elements. Designer, Daniel Sun, tells us, “Armed with Wings: Rearmed is designed to make players feel like an epic samurai warrior, despite skill level.” Certainly, if I was expecting sadness, I left feeling uplifted by the cleverness of the design and the beauty of the world.

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