Akka Arrh, for all its other strengths, is a wonderful simulation of what it feels like when the doorbell goes just as you have a bath running.chris Donlan, Eurogamer
Akka Ahhr is a lot. It’s a lot more than I hoped it would be, it’s also a lot to take in, a lot to play. It’s overwhelming and there’s some comfort in Chris struggling to find ways of explaining it also.
I mean, at its heart it is Bedlam x Every Extend! It’s incredibly easy to start, to tear through stages making satisfying noises happen in a sea of pretty colours.
It’s a game content to let the player engage in the most surface way possible. Spin that turret round, bomb this, shoot this, enjoy the show. In that regard, it’s incredibly easy to describe Akka Arrh. You spin around and shoot things. Thassit.
Score though? Getting that number up higher is something else indeed. It sounds overwhelming when I try and talk about it out loud, doubly so when I try and write it down. The game has it’s own language, as games are wont to have and I sound kinda unhinged if and when someone hasn’t played the game before, I’m babbling on to them about “going downstairs”, “blessed” enemies, “flowers” and all the rest of it.
In play though, it’s way more chill, way more natural feeling. I’m not sure exactly how Jeff & Giles have managed that because it kinda feels like an impossible feat to pull off but it all makes a strange sort of comfortable logical sense, unfolding and welcoming more and more as it goes.
Slowly introducing depth, not complexity, then going deeper and deeper still, it’s a game about mastering the game to the best of your ability but with the game not caring if that’s not your bag. As Chris rightly points out it’s a game that knows the player that wants the highest score will be juggling imminent disaster upon imminent disaster and the game teaches ways of shutting down that oncoming disaster then using that, taking that knowledge and making a number go up even higher.
Or just pressing fire and watching things go boom. Either/or.
Personally, I’m finding it fascinating to pull apart as I play. Studying it, enjoying that the game is in constant conversation with the player, teaching them to engage deeper (and how to) if that’s what the player enjoys.
The game isn’t one of trial and error, of finding secrets either! It’s all there for the player on full display. It’s not obtuse, it’s not oppressive, it’s not a game that wants you to push and prod at it to see what happens, to find out for yourself how it all works. Outcomes are explained. Mechanics are patiently introduced and the player walked gently through their purpose and utility.
It is, in short, the game as mentor. A kindly teacher that wants you to be the best you can be at it, a mentor that understands that ballsing it up is going to happen but that’s okay, it’s fine, we can just try again.
Akka Arrh is, then, a lesson in how a game being kind to (and patient with) the player takes nothing away. The game can empower and encourage the player, work with them rather than frustrate them and lose nothing from its systems and surrender not an ounce of depth.
I’m going to be thinking about if for a very long time. It’s rare and precious stuff.
I adore it. It truly is a remarkable videogame to exist.