Friday, October 16, 2015

[REVIEW] Legend of Kay: Anniversary

Legend of Kay: Anniversary
Played on: Wii U
Genre: Action-adventure, 3D Platformer
Developer: Neon Studios
Publisher: Nordic Games

We're in the midst of a small wave of indie interest in 3D platformers, and the thought of an impending full-on revival of the genre, much like what happened to 2D sidescrollers, makes me all giddy. Of course, there are several different shades of 3D platformers; my favorites tend to be the one that are more open and quasi-seamless (and, I confess, the ones with three bajillion collectibles to track down). Legend of Kay is not any of that; it's very linear in its strict level-based progression, but it does offer fun moments if you look beyond its flaws.

As you may have imagined, you play the game as Kay, who is an teenage anthropomorphic tiger. After a villanous band of gorillas invade the country and throw its inhabitants into slavery, it's up to him to set things straight. The story is told mostly via spoken dialogue, some of which is delivered in comic-book-like cutscenes. The writing is subpar, which is annoying given the story focus of the game, while the voice acting is mostly bland and uninteresting.

The game plays as a simplified action title, which frankly isn't a problem in my eyes. I was never really that into the complicated combo system for most modern beat-em-ups, so it's refreshing to come across something less intricate. Going through each stage can be a lot of fun at times, as the game offers pleasant environments with beatiful (if a bit antiquated) graphics and some pretty cool tunes. Some small details are also nice, such as when Kay gets out of a swimming section and proceeds to endearingly shake waterdrops off his fur.

There are collectibles to look for in each section, but the fact that you can't go back to previously completed locations is very annoying in this regard. Levels end quite abruptly, too, meaning sometimes you won't really be given a fair chance at getting everything. Worse yet, you can't really keep track of available collectibles until you finish each level, making the game's collect-a-thon side a bit pointless. All of this severely dampens the adventure feel of the title, which could have been one of the game's best aspects if done right.

It should also be said that, technically, the game feels extremely half-assed at places. Kay's damage-taking animation, for example, is so stiff that sometimes you won't even realize you lost energy, leading to some frustrating deaths. The camera is a nightmare, and should have been completely reworked for this version. It's a shame, because it feels that, even with the oversights I mentioned in the last paragraph, this could have been a very good linear action-platformer if only there were more attention to those nagging aspects of the gameplay.

If you're starved for 3D platformers (as I certainly am), Legend of Kay Anniversary might be worth a try. You'll have a good time if you like simple-yet-effective action, and especially so if open-ended exploration isn't a must for you. I must say I expected more, but the good aspects of the title kept me playing for a decent chunk of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment