One of the first indie releases on Wii U's eShop is Chasing Aurora, from And Yet It Moves developer Broken Rules. While Chasing Aurora shows the potential of indie games for the new platform, it proves to be far too limited an experience.
Chasing Aurora is a racing game that puts players in the role of a bird flying around an artistic polygon landscape. The idea is to fly laps around parts of an outdoor mountainous area, making sure to flap your wings and nosedive to pick up speed, while making sure to avoid walls. It's a pedestrian time trial with a shiny coat of bright polygon paint, featuring different environments ranging from springtime outdoors to snowy caverns.
Single-player for Chasing Aurora is completely limited to a time trial Challenge mode. Players can play with the Wii Remote (alone or with the Nunchuk) or the Classic Controller Pro (not the new Wii U Pro Controller, however), but the experience is best served on the GamePad. Without any complicated motion controls, Chasing Aurora feels like it would work better as a handheld title to pick up and play on the go, especially as flying laps for the best time starts to wear thin, even more so after completing all of the game's 20 tracks. There are no additional challenges or goals beyond finishing with the best time.
Multiplayer is where Chasing Aurora starts to make more of a mark. There are three game modes--Hide and Seek, Freeze Tag, and Chase. Unfortunately, these modes also suffer from their own limitations. They mainly consist of four players controlling birds on the TV screen with Wii Remotes. A fifth player uses the GamePad, with the camera centered solely around their character. The GamePad player will always have an advantage, as the four Wii Remote players must share the TV space, while the lone GamePad player can fly around with their own dedicated camera. This is part of the reason that players are encouraged to pass the GamePad around, but it doesn't do much to even the playing field.
Hide and Seek and Freeze Tag have a short shelf life, thanks to the GamePad player's advantage. Finding and avoiding Wii Remote players proves far too easy, thanks to the benefit of a dedicated screen. However, Chase proved to be slightly more fun. The concept for Chase is to grab an orb and hang on to it for as long as possible. This leads to all-out chaos and Chase's free-for-all nature shows potential to be a great party game.
Chasing Aurora ultimately feels like a practice run for what indie games are capable of with the Wii U and its peripheral hardware. It feels like a tech demo, putting gorgeous virtual landscapes on display, but with little to offer in terms of gameplay. Aside from playing a few random rounds of Chase, most players will be done with this game in a day or so.
This Chasing Aurora review was based on a digital version of the game provided by the developer. Local multiplayer requires additional Wii Remotes (up to four each). Use of Nunchucks is optional.