A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX is a revamped version of the original 2010 Mega Man inspired side-scroller. Gamers who grew up with classic 2D platformers will appreciate developer Extend Studio’s faithfulness to traditional gameplay mechanics, even if it does little to diversify the genre. The Mega Man influenced combat is what makes A.R.E.S. a blast to play, although it lacks the same kind of control precision and aesthetic variety. A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX entertains while it lasts and carries a modest asking price. There’s plenty of challenge and a plethora of upgrades, which makes it a great little distraction until Mighty No. 9 releases in April 2015.
I’ve never played the original A.R.E.S. so I won’t be comparing the two versions. Instead, I’m treating this as its own release and as a series first-timer. Players can pick between Ares and newcomer Taurus, each providing different story arcs. Ares is more agile and excels at tricky platforming, whereas Taurus is better at giving and taking damage. The controls are easy to master and both characters feel distinctive enough to warrant several playthroughs. While the shooting feels impactful and satisfying, the actual platforming can be excruciatingly frustrating. Whether you’re playing Ares or Taurus, the jumping doesn't feel accurate, and since most of the game’s challenge comes from perfecting difficult leaps, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX can be borderline infuriating.
"Developer Extend Studio has done a solid job of capturing the nostalgic vibe of traditional platformers."
A.R.E.S. is essentially a re-skinned Mega Man. Players blast their way through hordes of enemies, fight mid-level and end-bosses, upgrade weapons...rinse and repeat. While there is nothing wrong with this formula, A.R.E.S. lacks Mega Man’s visual diversity and charm. The characters are bland and uninspiring, and every level is made up of similar-looking elements with only a few color variations here and there. Nevertheless, what’s there does look good. Some of the large bosses are genuinely impressive and the beautifully drawn 2D cutscenes bring much needed variety to the otherwise derivative levels.
Despite its problems, I enjoyed my time with A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX. Developer Extend Studio has done a solid job of capturing the nostalgic vibe of traditional platformers. While it’s a real shame that A.R.E.S. feels too safe and sticks too close to the old-school run n’ gun formula without trying new things, the challenging gameplay is both rewarding and refreshing. Considering the low asking price, A.R.E.S. is definitely worth a playthrough. The IP has a lot of potential and I can only hope that Extend Studio takes more chances if they ever decide to tackle a sequel.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC