Mad Fellow’s debut title, Aaero, can be described as the lovechild of Rez and Amplitude – a rail shooter where the player also rides rails to match song’s melodies. Songs are split between sections where players follow bright ribbons by navigating their spaceship avatar with the left stick and sections where players blast enemies by hovering over them with the right stick. All while shooting across alien worlds to bass-driven tracks from the likes of Noisia and Flux Pavilion. Given the relatively stagnant landscape of the music game genre, Aaero‘s take on some classic gameplay is appreciated.
Aaero‘s biggest success is taking popularized mechanics from other music titles while attempting to carve out its own identity. The music sections of Aaero are reminiscent of Rock Band‘s vocal gameplay, where players match the pitch of melodies. And like in Rock Band, there’s a sense of satisfaction and awe when nailing a segment with pin-point accuracy (theres an in-game Accuracy stat but I was never able to get above 85% FYI)
Essentially, it’s Rez with a different aesthetic.
The shooter aspect of Aaero works as expected. Firing on or before beats will reward players with decreased times between shots, giving an incentive to pay close attention to songs when targeting enemies. Essentially, it’s Rez with a different aesthetic. I would have preferred any twist or update to the gameplay we’ve seen many times before in the genre, but this style of rails-shooter works well enough for Aaero.
Just like how Rez has its weird 90s hacker environment, Aaero features a low-poly, sci-fi aesthetic that serves well as the backdrop to the game’s 25 wub-heavy electronic tracks. Players travel across alien worlds, blasting away a variety of enemies while enjoying some sweet tunes. Spread throughout the song list are boss battles with giant creatures, serving as impressive set pieces and are some of the highlights of the game. There’s no discernable story in Aaero, but flying across deserts and shooting giant sand worms gives enough of a narrative for a music game.
There’s not a lot of variety to be found…
And for the first couple of songs, this formula works well. The gameplay is solid and it’s a lot of fun blasting away at aliens with heavy bass drops interspersed between. But at some point, whether due to my taste in music or the bare-bones nature of music titles, the game loses some of its appeal. There’s not a lot of variety to be found in Aaero‘s soundtrack or gameplay and like most music games, its best played in short sessions. After the first couple of levels, the songs begin to sound the same, and after beating the game, there’s little reason to replay the game. There are more higher difficulties and leaderboards, but lack of game modes makes replayability an issue. Given the interesting nature of Aaero‘s gameplay, a multiplayer mode could have had potential and is something I’d love to see from Mad Fellows in their next outing.
Aaero is the combination between a Rez-like rail shooter and more traditional music game mechanics because it’s difficult to innovate in a long-standing genre in 2017. It works as well as one would expect though, and is a lot of fun when in the zone with the impressive soundtrack of electronic music. It can wear thin, however, due to a lack of any sort of innovative gameplay and having only a single game mode. Despite its lack of replayability, Aaero is a solid music game and serves well as a reminder of what makes this genre great.
A review copy of Aaero for Xbox One was provided to The Experience Bar. Kevin played through the Normal difficulty of the game in about two hours. You can read more about our review and scoring methods on this page.