A Leap Back to Nostalgia with a Modern Spin: Impression of Akimbot’s First DASH

There’s almost nothing as strong a pull in the entire infinite expanding universe of videogames as the gravitational force of nostalgia, and there’s nothing the modern gamer loves more than a familiar formula wrapped up in a shiny new package. While few games would dare to lean so hard on the formula of mid-2000s action-platformers, Akimbot makes a substantial homage in a delightfully fresh modular package.

The Herritage of Action-Platformers - A DASH Through Time

But the French indie studio Evil Raptor, which made the fun-packed 2020 release Pumpkin Jack, might have a hit on its hands with Akimbot. The studio clearly knows what it’s doing here in this very early look at an adventure that recalls classics such as Ratchet and Clank but with a contemporary sheen. Experience the first level of Akimbot. It is very unfinished, but… well… it should be familiar.

Exe and Shipset - An Intriguing Duo on a DASH for Freedom

At its core — and at its heart — Akimbot has its two protagonists: Exe, a mute robot who can jump and slash his way through nearly anything, and Shipset, a talking, floating buddy who gets into trouble. These two are a great pair, and their dynamic echoes some of the best partnerships in gaming. Yet they also feel fresh and new. Both old and nouveau. That combination gives you a reason to keep playing.

A Modern DASH - Graphics and Gameplay Evolved

While Akimbot owes a lot to its predecessor, Killswitch, it is most assuredly a modern game. It buzzes with shimmering lights and fun particle effects. Even the level design evokes a sense of discovery, as a beach planet that is peaceful but also strange. The controls are a big part of what makes Exe feel so good. His double jump-and-dash have a weightiness and a flow to them that feels intuitive and designed (which is very difficult to nail down in 3D platformers).

Akimbot's Arsenal - A DASH of Gunplay

The interplay between platforming and shooting is what Akimbot does best. The guns, ranging from semi-automatic pistols to your traditional machine guns, are meaty and responsive. The demo didn’t get too deep into the weapon upgrade system, but the promise of progression adds yet another layer of complexity to the great combat mechanics that are already on offer.

Stretching the Bounds of the Genre - A DASH Into the Future

From the start, Akimbot is no mere nostalgia trip; it’s a challenging grand tour of the possibilities of the action-platformer. If Evil Raptor truly begins to extend the boundaries of what we expect from the genre – and he appears eager to do so, giving us tantalising hints of a lush, characterful world and moveset that encourage us to exhaust all its possibilities – then he is a far richer designer than he needs to be.

Explaining "DASH" - The Thread That Binds

I hope you’ll have recognised by now that ‘dash’ has been the central image in my exploration of Akimbot, for good reason. So, in game design, ‘dash’ is a feature (a verb) meaning ‘an ability to move very fast, like roadrunner’, and it’s a verb and a noun because it stands symbolically for the freedom and expressive power that players perceive in the rest of the gameplay experience. Dash is Akimbot all over.

In the end, Akimbot is a trip down memory lane for those who remember the golden days of gaming, but it’s also a refreshing dash forward, integrating what makes old-school gaming great into the sphere of modern innovation. We look forward to seeing where Evil Raptor combines these promising beginnings into a genuinely epic experience, but, for now, it’s a must-play for retro-gamers and modern gamers alike.

Jun 14, 2024
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