At first glance, you might expect Laika: Aged Through Blood to be maybe a bit colder than it does. That is, until just minutes away when you discover that its beautifully apocalyptic environments, dark soundtrack, and adorably anthropomorphic cast are actually just a backdrop for an adventure filled with shocking and gratuitous violence, d strong language and a heartbreaking story of loss and grief. It’s kind of like that episode of South Park where you find out that all the innocent looking Christmas creatures worship Satan – and I mean it in the best possible way. It’s hard to explain how the woods cast blends so perfectly with absolutely horrifying brutality, but at least in the first bit of content available in the demo, Laika manages to thread that needle with alarming ease – using a dirtbike. .
Playing the role of a mother coyote who rushes to the scene of a teenage dog’s brutal crucifixion, Laika: Aged Through Blood lived up to its name before the opening credits even started rolling. Inspired by western movies and featuring a gun-wielding lone wolf on a quest for justice, this adventure practically slapped me in the face with its chillingly grown-up tone, and which never stopped in the opening hours that were offered to me in the demo. While riding a motorcycle and getting revenge on the militaristic birds was undoubtedly a hilarious moment, Laika isn’t shy about repeatedly focusing on her grief-stricken protagonist’s struggle and the ruined world she inhabits. . Don’t be fooled by the charming animal characters and the cartoonish coat of paint – this game wants to make you cry in between all those satisfying vroom-vrooms, so maybe keep some Kleenex handy.
Laika: aged through blood screens
When I wasn’t sitting in the surprise of the story’s maturity, I felt right at home with Laika’s fantastic motorbike exploration and combat. As someone who’s played an absolute ton of the motorcycle-focused Trials series, Laika feels immediately familiar. As I jumped on the wheels to get my bike over obstacles and did air jumps to stay square with the road below me, I realized how much I had missed this gameplay difficult motorbike from which it seems to be clearly inspired.
But not content with sticking to that formula, Laika adds extremely satisfying combat to the mix, allowing me to block incoming fire with my motorcycle body, parry bullets against the enemy, and even enter time. bullet to retaliate myself. Making my way through each area as I simultaneously dealt with all the hostile birds and kept my bike under control is a fascinating balancing act where even one mistake resulted in my brutal death. Luckily, frequent checkpoints allowed me to quickly get back into the action and try again until my skills improved, resulting in a perfect run that made me feel like a badass. I didn’t know the thing Trials lacked was a demanding and deadly shooter, but so far Laika has me hooked.
I will say though that while pretty much every other part of the demo was fun, I was pretty disappointed with the boss fight, which pitted me against a motorized war vehicle. Given how incredibly challenging and creative every other aspect of the game was, I expected to die a lot and be blown away by some interesting mechanics, but instead I just repeated the same simple loop over and over. until the boss dies without much of a fight. Since this was just the tutorial area, I’m hoping for more interesting boss fights later on, but this one was definitely let down when just about everything else blew my mind. .
Plus, I feel the need to shout out how stellar Laika’s music is. Seriously: the emotional, catchy jams you get (and later collect in the open world to play on demand) as you explore are truly next-level stuff. It’s rare to see so much thought in a game’s OST, and Laika deserves kudos for that.
Even in the very first part of this unique and disturbing motorvania, I was quite swept away by its beauty, storytelling, gameplay, and soundtrack. I will definitely be lining up to play more as development progresses.