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Aka Review – A try at Enlightenment

Aka is a farming life sim that will have you building your own dwelling and attempting to keep your fauna and flora alive.
Aka Review Image
Image: Cosmo Gatto

The fundamental goal of Aka is to have no goal whatsoever.

That is to say, Aka is a game where you have plenty to do, but you don’t have to do any of it. Plant and harvest crops, creating a massive garden farm that could feed an entire village. Or don’t, if you’d rather just lay in the grass and stare at the sky, you have the option to do that as well.

Aka, the Red Panda and the game’s protagonist, is a soldier returning from war. Like for many others, the conflict is suggested to have been a bloody and traumatizing affair for Aka, who struggles now to find a new purpose. Guided by stories from his friend and fellow soldier Thom, Aka heads to an island paradise where he is given the chance for a simpler existence.

In that brief introduction to the game’s equally brief story, you sort of get an idea as to why the game lacks so much direction. The point is to free yourself of direction, of a need to complete a goal or any pressing objectives. You’re supposed to just kind of be.

As I mentioned above, there is still plenty to do in Aka. You can place furniture and decorations in spots around the island. You can farm, cook and craft, with plenty of recipes that require gathering goods from around the environment, incentivizing exploration. There are people to talk to with their own unique character and there’s a very short story for you to engage in. Stuff to do is all there, you just don’t really have to do it.

The farming system is surprisingly deep for a game that seems to have nothing going on on the surface. The game’s approach to farming is inspired by permaculture, which is a pretty rare thing in the farming sim genre.

Akagardening Image
Image: Cosmo Gatto

Permaculture is the practice of combining animals and natural growth in ways that mimic a fully functioning ecosystem, essentially farming as close to nature as possible. You use the local wildlife to keep your plants alive, and have to plant the right crops next to each other to provide plants with the right benefits they need to survive.

This leads to a farming simulator where a little more thought is involved, and proper planning beyond just the seasons adds for a bit of an engaging challenge when it comes to making your gardens thrive. This is the most thinking you’ll have to do in the entire game, and is the closest thing to a real challenge you’ll find on the island.

Aka carries a sword, but there’s no bandits or monsters to fight in this game. The bladed tool is used for cutting grass and crafting, and mostly just serves as a reminder of Aka’s past, and what you’re choosing to avoid by playing the game in the first place.

The game can be as sad as it can be relaxing. Without spoiling anything, Aka deals with the themes of loss frequently in its short story. Being a soldier returning from war, this is something we can expect from our protagonist. The game deals with the subjects in a way that respects its adult players, but can also serve as a kid-friendly introduction to the concept, which is enough for me to say that Aka serves as a great educational game.

Unfortunately, Aka, like any other game, is not without its flaws. The directionless gameplay alone can put many people off, but since it is sort of the point I won’t delve too deep into that. It is worth saying however that people who aren’t looking specifically for a sort of relaxation are probably going to quickly find themselves bored with Aka.

Aka Bee Image
Image: Cosmo Gatto

Aka’s open nature can lead to a lack of understanding of the features and boundaries present in the game. There have been times when I had no idea I could interact with certain elements of the environment around me. Other times, I found myself stumbling into invisible walls thinking the space ahead of me was free to explore.

The game also lacks any tutorials whatsoever, meaning you can find yourself lost at several points in the game without clear direction of what to do. Receiving your first plantable seed, for example, was a confusing crisis, as the game limits you to where you can plant things and doesn’t tell you that from the start.

Walking back to town to clear your limited inventory space of things such as tin cans and garbage is a tiring experience that could use a quality-of-life update. The experience could be greatly improved with the addition of more trash cans or recycling bins around the islands, or simply a bigger inventory.

Another problem with Aka, and definitely the biggest one, is the number of bugs present in the title at launch. Crafting can sometimes be a hassle, with recipes not completing despite having the correct ingredients, and if you are playing on PC trying to map the controller can be an utter nightmare.

The Final Word

Aka is a game with a great idea at its core. The promise of a peaceful, directionless experience can be something that greatly attracts a certain type of player, who will definitely find the game worth the time. However, Aka sort of fumbles in the execution. This is a game I recommend picking up after a few updates and quality of life changes, because the potential, much like the game, is limitless.


Our Aka review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!

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