Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Review

Akka Arrh Review

COLLECT POWERUPS

Some games demand a very specific kind of person to play them. In the case of Akka Arrh, I imagine you’ll either need a touch of nostalgia for cabinet games past or at least a fleeting fascination with what games looked like before 100-hour narrative cinematic stories were the norm.

Akka Arrh (I imagine pronounced like a Klingon choking on a Minty) hails from the mind of Jeff Minter, a proper old school cabinet-game developer who first came up with the concept some forty years ago. Atari approached the veteran dev to remake one of his games, and the prototype for Akka Arrh was chosen to get a modern reimagining – but mostly I assume to surprise modern gamers.

Just a casual five million on the scoreboard – and that’s on the low side

As a top-down shooter, I expected I’d know what I was doing. Fighting off the vector baddies with bullets and bombs is at least familiar,  with finesse coming from improved execution. Throwing out a bomb will of course cause an explosion, which can in turn, of course, explode an enemy in similar fashion. This explosion can explode other enemies – which then explode in turn, creating a chain reaction. Every enemy exploded in this way will crank up a multiplier, so your aim is to get the biggest bang (heh) for your buck by only dropping a single bomb and then watching the chain go off for as long as possible. Each exploded baddie then gives you bullets to fire – handy for the enemies that don’t get exploded.

You then find yourself meticulously setting up chain reactions and banking bullets to blast other threats before they take out your weird little goat-skull ship. Whatever narrative might suggest the purpose behind the ongoing onslaught and your thunderous defence is not important – this is a world of sound and fury, signifying fun.

Beautiful, symmetrical, star-shaped explosions

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



With everything aligned, Akka Arrh just bombards your senses and tickles your dopamine receptors – a colossal number growing larger and larger while geometric shapes fizzle and pop off like fireworks. This stumbles a bit when you realise that all of your hard work can be toppled by a single enemy hitting you, and with the amount of shit going on at any moment an errant bullet or bad guy is sure to slip through. It is a sinister challenge that presents itself as being laughably simple, so when it goes south you can’t help but grit your teeth and get right back into its neon nonsense, lest you find yourself feeling like a fool.

Of course, the game’s depth comes from creative places – with levels offering unique shapes to the play area that determine where explosions can or can’t exist. Couple this with power-ups, enemies that have their own unique quirky behaviours, and a game-within-a-game that prompts you to occasionally duck beneath your playspace and take out some thieving rats, and you have a soup of mechanics that keeps you well on your toes. There’s a lot going on, but when you hit your stride you remember why games of this nature would gobble up coins at the local corner shop back in the day.

This is just a screenshot, in motion this is geometric carnage

The main issue is that in hitting that stride, you are navigating a hell of a lot of clutter. Screenshots can’t do this game justice, its psychedelic visuals are firing on all cylinders at all times – throwing every bit of information at you at once, whether it’s an incoming power-up, enemy, or just some winding text to celebrate a particular high combo. It all comes across as chaos, but in the depth of it all you can see a great deal of deliberate care has been applied to make sure a core experience is held sacred. This then means that extrinsic information can be lost in the disorder, like the amount of health you may have left or even something basic like what power-ups are still active. Sure, the whole screen said ‘AUTO SHOOTING’ a moment ago – but in Akka Arrh time, it feels like an age has passed since then. It’s the double-edged sword of player satisfaction – the better your performance, the more visual noise you’ll cause, so you truly must suffer for your art.

Final Thoughts

I cannot overstate how the game is just awash in a sea of aesthetics. Somehow everything is jarring, perhaps a little off-putting, but overwhelmingly it all somehow belongs. I think it can all be attributed to Jeff Minter likely bleeding the kind of creative juice that could only birth such an experience. That it all congeals into something cohesive is both a miracle and a testament to Minter’s vision. The game is a vibe, all you need do is settle in and ride it like a wave.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



Click here for more information on WellPlayed’s review policy and ethics

Akka Arrh Review
A BOMB IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN THE BATHROOM
Akka Arrh is a relic from a lost time, making itself quite at home with a modern player through overwhelming visuals and a gameplay loop that seeps into your gray matter.
The Good
Brilliantly simple to pick up
Prime example of a ‘vibe’ game
Bonkers old school aesthetic bleeds the 80s
Racking up zillions of points feels great every time
The Bad
Takes a special kind of understanding to appreciate
Bit of an eyeball assault
7
SOLID
  • Akka Arrh Review
  • Atari
  • PS5 / PS4
  • March 8, 2024

Akka Arrh Review
A BOMB IN THE HAND IS WORTH TWO IN THE BATHROOM
Akka Arrh is a relic from a lost time, making itself quite at home with a modern player through overwhelming visuals and a gameplay loop that seeps into your gray matter.
The Good
Brilliantly simple to pick up
Prime example of a ‘vibe’ game
Bonkers old school aesthetic bleeds the 80s
Racking up zillions of points feels great every time
The Bad
Takes a special kind of understanding to appreciate
Bit of an eyeball assault
7
SOLID
Written By Ash Wayling

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games

Comments

Latest

TV & Film

Please stand by, we'll be right back

News

Now everyone can feel the stress they bring

Interview

There's a lot going on beneath the surface of the newest WoW expansion

News

Not all superheroes wear capes, but these ones do

News

The original 1984 series on the big screen for the first time

News

Venture will be hitting the ground (and digging it) right away

Latest Podcast Episode

You May Also Like

News

Another Rollercoaster feather in their cap

Review

It's on random

Review

Post-apocalyptic postie

Review

Fighting aliens never looked more colourful

Advertisement