‘Aka’ Review: A Relaxing And Poignant Life Sim
by Gary Catig
Life sim video games have become popular because of their casual atmosphere. From The Sims to Animal Crossing, they all allow players to create their own lives in a digital world. The upcoming Aka is a nice addition to the genre that is worth a try.
The titular character is a retired red panda soldier who moves to a chain of islands to settle down. One of the titles biggest strengths is the story. Diving into the protagonist’s history is surprisingly poignant and at times, dark and bittersweet. This serves as a contrast to the visuals. Though it still feels appropriate playing with themes of redemption. The level of seriousness is unexpected and I didn’t think I would be moved by a life sim.
Aka provides familiar gameplay with setting up a home along with farming and crafting everyday items. There are also quests to complete to advance the narrative. This all develops a very wholesome experience focusing on a simplistic and humble lifestyle and helping others in need. You can even recycle garbage for gifts. The number of minigames are also fitting including a music rhythm and card-based ones. However, some of the missions can feel repetitive since they involve the same task but a different location.
As common for these types of games, the aesthetic leans towards adorable. Many characters have a stout rotundness making them even cuter. The cut scenes are gorgeous hand drawn images with watercolor that have comic book qualities with regards to its storytelling. Furthermore, the accompanying tranquil soundtrack provides laid back vibes adding to the relaxing ambience.
A main complaint about Aka is the controls. Jumping can be clunky and doesn’t really play a role except for rare instances. It makes you question why it’s included. Performing undertakings such as chopping wood, mining, and cutting grass are easy enough, but the farming aspect is a little frustrating. Using the synergistic effects of different crops on each other is an interesting concept, but the farming itself is tricky. It gets annoying trying to sow the seeds and watering the plants since there is no robust aiming method. It’s so sensitive that even the slightest movement will cause it to be offset.
Despite some control issues, Aka is a wholesome life sim with a compelling story about second chances.
Aka will be released on December 15th.