Is AIKA Online Worth Playing in 2021?
Today, we’re taking a look at a large, open-world tab-target MMORPG that honestly looks and plays better than the vast majority of titles released around the same time.
This is an obscure MMO that I guarantee most of you have never heard of.
I’m a fan of tab-target MMOs. I grew up during an age where that specific type of combat was prevalent. Sure, I enjoy both action and hybrid combat systems as well but there’s always something familiar about tab-target systems.
I’ll be the first to admit that AIKA doesn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary in terms of ability special effects. Granted, I only played a melee class so my opinion of this might be a little skewed.
But I invested several days into playing this, fought several bosses, entered multiple different dungeons, and got to see quite a large variety of monsters.
None of which really did anything other than smack me. Repeatedly, and sometimes in rapid succession.
Thankfully the combat isn’t bad. There’s no denying the combat is definitely slow, but it’s actually fairly fluid which is honestly something I did NOT expect to see out of an MMO like this.
Which actually brings me to my next point: This is a very different kind of MMO.
Yes, you’re introduced to the world via a small narrative. Yes, there’s a “main story” that you follow for the first 45 minutes or so, which leads you from hub to hub, with each hub offering you a variety of different side-quests you can take.
However, after a couple hours of hunting the same monsters repetitiously for quests, I came to the realization that… I’d run out. There was no more main story quest to follow. I’d completed all the side-quests.
And it was at this moment.. that I realized the exact type of MMO this was. I’m sure plenty of you over 30 recall just how bad the grind could get in MMOs back in the early 2000s. You’d spend hours farming monsters for a single level up. You wouldn’t be following the story, you wouldn’t be concerning yourself with side-quests.
Those offered negligible XP per hour comparatively to grinding monsters. And AIKA is much the same. After finishing all of the quests within the first region, I opted to move on to the second region only to find myself having significantly more trouble with the monsters located within it.
So, I moved back and spent about an hour grinding several levels. This unlocked more of the main story, more side-quests, and the first dungeon.
From this I can speculate that AIKA is the type of MMO that has you grind hours worth of monsters between the sparse main story and side-quests. Which, while not my style of game is definitely going to appeal to a certain demographic of players.
Graphically, AIKA looks alright. It’s a fantasy MMO, so it has a specific style going for it, one that we’ve seen hundreds of times before.
But given this is a 12 year old free game, I daresay it holds up pretty well. The areas don’t look dull and uninspired. There’s a large variety in terms of environmental aesthetic. Monsters specific to each biome. Sand worms for deserts. Bears, goblins and the like for forests.
But while the areas all looked and felt passable in terms of an MMO, one thing I did note was that they felt barren. Empty. Void of life, of really any type of interaction outside of the dense groups of monsters to murder.
There really weren’t many quests to do. And of the ones that you could take, they had you kill the same monsters you’d been grinding for the last hour anyway. While there were “hubs” spread across each zone, the majority of them offered nothing to do. They served no purpose.
One thing I will note is that it has a fairly extensive skill-system. There were various layers of abilities you could learn and distribute your skill points between, adding additional layers of complexity and customization.
AIKA ultimately ended up bring a very unusual game.
See, on the one hand, I went into this with low expectations. I don’t recall ever having played AIKA, and from what I saw of the game via a Google image search.. I wasn’t really very impressed.
After getting in-game and playing for a couple days, the servers suddenly ceased allowing me to log in. Which was understandable. They had announced that the game would be shutting down later this month, so I was anticipating this.
However, the servers refused me access on September 1st, weeks before the shut down was supposed to happen, preventing me from making further progress through the game. Inhibiting my ability to level beyond level 30. This was disappointing, as I was curious what later level areas looked like and if the grind would get better or worse as we continued on.
AIKA actually has surprisingly decent tab-target combat.
It has a large world filled with monsters to fight that is pretty open to explore at your own leisure.
There’s an extensive skill-system present that allows for players to highly customize their character.
This is a different type of MMO, one that doesn’t rely on repetitious questing to propel you through the game.
Yet unfortunately the MMO is shutting down.
While the world was large and filled with monsters, that’s pretty much the only purpose it served, making it feel linear and empty.
The questing system, which is a key part of what makes an MMO an MMORPG wasn’t really present. It was gated behind massive grinds.
Dungeons were as simple as “eliminate mass hordes of enemies” with no complexity – at least during the first 30 or so levels of the game. This may be subject to change as you continue to level towards endgame.
Enemies had no real AI. They were basic, did nothing other than auto-attack. Didn’t attempt to use abilities. CC me. They would smack me. Over and over. And that limited the challenge I would’ve otherwise experienced.
Ultimately, AIKA isn’t a terrible MMO. Yes, it’s a very basic MMO. You spend most your time cycling through the few abilities you have on your action bar, hoping to 1-shot the monsters around to maximize your XP.
But there’s really nothing to do outside of.. well, cycling through your abilities on enemies out in the world. And that leaves you feeling bored. Because there are much better games out there that allow for a lot of freedom to play however you want.
Sure, AIKA looks decent enough and the combat isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but this isn’t something I would ever recommend to players looking for a new MMO to invest time into even if it weren’t shutting down.