Gameplay (2 out of 5)
Aaaaa!: A Reckless Disregard for Gravity has one simple challenge. You need to throw yourself off of a building, pull off some tricks, and land at the bottom without dying. Your goal is to earn stars by gaining points. These stars are worth teeth, which can be traded for new levels. You’ll need to keep winning teeth to unlock videos and new levels. It’s pretty simple.
You can earn points by hugging buildings and kissing objects on the way down. This just means getting close to stuff and staying close to it while the points add up. You can also flip off protestors, give a thumbs up to fans, hit birds, spray paint buildings, and smash score plates. You then have to land in a small circle for extra points.
That’s it. The whole game is jumping off a building, moving from patch to patch, sticking close to groups of buildings, and pulling off a few clicks in the right place to get a bonus. Flipping off protestors and giving a thumbs up to fans just means clicking the left or right mouse button when the game tells you to do it. Spray painting means hitting "CTRL" as you approach a marked building. Hugging and kissing is painfully simple and repetitive.
There’s just nothing more to it. There are at least 80 levels, but so many of them are non-descript cities with the same gameplay. I tried to enjoy this one. I unlocked as many of the levels as I could for this review. There are roughly 3 that stuck out as unique. There’s just no variety to it and I was bored out of my mind after doing the same moves again and again. Quantity does not equal quality. I think this would have been a much better game if there was more of a focus on unique challenges. As it is, it almost feels like some copy and pasted random segments again and again to stretch 20 levels into 80.
This is still a 2 because the gameplay itself isn’t broken. I want to point that out, since the core is pretty good. It’s just really repetitive.
Graphics (3 out of 5)
The graphics aren’t bad. Aaaaa! takes place in a futuristic Boston with floating buildings and lots of digital billboards. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to Tron. I personally thought that it looked much closer to the cyber world of Ghost in the Shell. Some of the Internet backgrounds look exactly like it actually.
There really isn’t too much else to say about the graphics. They are fairly neat and they work with the setting. If you’re a fan of electronic themes, then you’ll be in heaven. The only problem is that the buildings and many of the objects are fairly bland and repetitive. That holds it back for me.
Multiplayer (4 out of 5)
There is no actual multiplayer, but there is a very impressive competition system in place. I can’t tell whether it was Dejobaan or Steam who did it, but this is probably the nicest feature of the game. If you go into your community page, you can click on the "view stats" button for Aaaaa! and see a leaderboard for every single one of the levels in the game. This is really pretty cool and I wish more games would do it. I don’t care as much for replaying a game just to set a high score, but it’s a nice feature.
It’s not a five though, since they only show the top 5 leaders in the game. This means checking the leaderboard is far more of a pain than it should be.
Interface (1 out of 5)
I thought that this deserved a bit of a special mention. The menu interface isn’t good or user friendly. They sacrificed function for trying to look edgy
and cool. You pick levels by choosing blocks out of a large circular wall. This is a real pain to navigate, since there are no divisions or filters. The level names are also long and don’t often tie in with the level itself. This makes replaying a bit of a nightmare once you start to unlock a lot of levels.
The other thing that really annoyed me is the pathetic in-game menu. If you do something stupid, like miss an important path or accidentally deploy your parachute early, then you have to either finish the level, kill yourself, or quit to the main menu. There is no simple way to just restart the level. This is absurd in this day and age of gaming.
Atmosphere (2 out of 5)
Apparently a lot of people like Dejobaan for their odd sense of humor. Therefore, I’ll take a little look at the setting and atmosphere of the game.
I really just didn’t like the atmosphere of the game. This is naturally going to be a personal thing, so my opinion is no more relevant than any other. The problem is that it just doesn’t feel like it works. I’m just not sure what Dejobaan was going for in Aaaaa!!!. They make several attempts at humor that just fall flat.
For example, there are several videos that you can unlock. There’s a meditation level, an anti-mediation level, and some general "jokes." One video is a recording of a grandmother going on and on about a cookie recipe. Apparently she’s crazy and on a rooftop while her screaming family is trying to get her back. She’s also mixing her son’s ashes into the cookie mix. If you laughed at this, then I guess you can ignore this section. Otherwise it should speak for itself.
The other jokes didn’t seem to do too well either. They have joke digital billboards. There are random ads with girls in bikinis, with the note that you’ll buy anything they offer because you aren’t paying attention to the words. There are also billboards showing the developers with joke descriptions and one with a description of Mark Twain mixed with Rasputin.
I enjoy crazy comedy as much as the next guy. It just seemed like all of this stuff was falling flat. So much of it almost seemed sad though. It comes off a bit like a kid jumping around trying to get attention and be different. Everything seemed like it was intentionally trying for shock humor and somehow failing terribly. Maybe I’m just missing something though.
I’m also annoyed at the achievements. There are only 5 achievements available at the moment, and they’re basically just awarded for playing the game for awhile. There are no cool or crazy achievements in place. That just seems really lazy. They did give them funny names, but that’s about it. It just seems like such an after thought, when it could have added a cool new layer to the game. Aaaaa! seems like it should be tailor-made for achievement hunting.
Systems Requirements (5 out of 5)
There are technically minimum requirements, but I doubt that any remotely recent gaming computer couldn’t handle it. It just needs 1 gig of RAM, a 1.5 GHz processor, and a video card with 128 MB. I had no problems with my XPS with a 2.6 GHz dual processor, 3 gigs of RAM, and an Nvidia 8700M GT card. There’s also a demo if you want to check first though.
Overall (2 out of 5)
This was actually a tough review to make a final judgement. I personally found it boring and not funny. I would probably rate it as a horizontal thumb though, since I understand that there are a lot of fans who apparently won’t mind such simple gameplay. I had a bit of fun on a few levels too. It just seemed that those were few and far between. It quickly became such a grind though. Each level should have presented a unique challenge. I also have a feeling that I would be raving over this if it was freeware. It’s not. It’s a $15 game that just doesn’t bring much to the table.
The final verdict came when I realized that I had to keep taking breaks from Aaaaa! to play Spelunky. I had to take entertainment breaks while I was playing a game. That revelation settled it. It just isn’t that fun. Now, some people might not get bored. There’s a lot of room to shoot for high scores. There’s a demo available on Steam and on the Dejobaan website. So you can give it a try and get a fairly good feel for what’s in store.
I personally don’t think it’s worth the $15. I don’t feel too ripped off though, since I bought it as a pre-order package deal on Steam. If you think that you might be interested, I suggest you keep your eye out for another deal like that. Unless you’re just really in love with the concept, you won’t want to pay full price for this one.