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Even if we never get Stellar Blade on PC, action-RPG Aikode looks comparably swish

Another student of the school of Nier: Automata

A woman running through a firework show in a neon city in Aikode
Image credit: ACE_19111545

Tucked away in the corner of this year's Day Of The Devs at GDC I discovered a lavish, strangely unattended action-RPG, in which austerely beautiful young women in elaborate skirts kick the bejazus out of each other on fields of whirling flowers. That game was Aikode, the work of Spanish solo developer Ace.

I've been thinking about Aikode in the run-up to the release of Stellar Blade, out today on PS5. Stellar Blade is, by most accounts, rather good, despite its Stay Puft Marshmallow fixation on wibbly butts and boobs. Eurogamer's Jessica Orr praises the game's "killer tunes" "vibey, flow-state combat" and "transformative hard mode". Whether it'll ever come to PC is another question: I learned today that there are puzzles in the game that feature PS5 controller icons, which suggests a firmer attachment to Sony's platform than we guessed when we wrote up Stellar Blade's announcement last year. If it doesn't, I suspect Aikode will make a great alternative. I just hope its developer doesn't burn out making it. There's a lot going on here - check out this video:

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Both Stellar Blade and Aikode take inspiration from Nier: Automata, but Aikode seems more obviously reminiscent of the Yoko Taro opus in its love of meta moments and philosophical grandiloquence, the specific cut of its skirts and its ethereal, high tech world. Said world is Somnium, which is "doomed to an endless cycle of death", and appears to straddle both timelines and genres: there's a cyberpunk metropolis, a replica of Tokyo, a steampunkville and some kind of cloud citadel featuring cats, which you can either pet or kill.

You play Aiko, a "Kyao created by The Order", who "comes across a puppet that will lead her to the worst of futures - her own past." Hence the multiple timeline element. The game's environments feature "hundreds" of NPCs who follow a daily schedule, together with side activities such as fishing, clothing or hairstyle customisation and arcade minigames. You can explore them on foot, ride a motorbike or take to the air on fairy wings.

There's a relationship system, too, and sex (if you enable the associated game settings). But what you'll primarily be doing in Aikode is fighting. The game's third-person combat is firmly of the Devil May Cry school, with a big emphasis on dodges and parries and pattern recognition. Enemies range from groups of humanoid one-attack-wonders to monstrosities bigger than buildings that must be taken on using a grappling hook. I didn't get much sense of this during my 10 minutes with the demo at GDC, but your weapon apparently has three modes - gun, sword and scythe. Switching between them on the fly is necessary to overpower more sophisticated opponents. It all looks very swanky, with animations that could also be dance moves.

20-something developer Ace is something of a wonderkid. As discussed in this Indie Games Devel interview, Ace started out tinkering in Unity at the tender age of 13, before shifting over to RPG Maker. Aikode, which entered development a couple of years ago, is Ace's first "proper" videogame project. Naturally, the creator's relative inexperience and apparent shortage of resources versus the baroque immensity of Aikode's concept alarm me a bit. In the interview above, there's talk of working 16 hour days, seven days a week, which - please, don't do that to yourself. Speaking as a burned-out 30-something, there may come a point when you regret it.

Aikode doesn't have a release date. I hope Ace doesn't rush it. Read more about the setting and characters on the official site. For more on the game's inspirations beyond Nier, there's also this piece on

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