Legend of Kay
A platformer with a cat as the main character. What do you mean, not original? But, it has to be said, JoWood is probably the only developer/publisher daring to create new platformers. All the rest are yet another sequel of a previously successful game. So -if you feel like playing a brand new series- you have to read on, or you go buy the latest Blinx.
Legend of Kay starts in a calm oriental village where -I may have given it away already- a lot of cats live. All over the world there are other villages, where other species live. Quiet en peaceful, until the gorillas and rats show up. With their combination of muscles and brains they succeed in subjecting all other animals. Nobody sees a way out, but then there’s Kay. He must and will stop the enemy.
The pretty arrogant cat has the honor of training combat with an old master, to start afterwards with the real deal and a wooden sword. Combat is the most important part of this game. The more you advance, the better weapons you obtain. Once in a while you get the chance of learning better and stronger combo’s. And that’s the essence of the combat: combo’s. Every enemy is labelled with a big orange arrow. When you move the left analog stick in that direction, the flexible Kay will jump to that enemy. When you’ve practiced a bit, you’ll chain the attacks like a madman. It’s basically total chaos most of the time, flying from one side of the field to another. But the battles are well done, although a lot of practice is needed to remain alive.
Then there’s the platform aspect itself. Listening to the motto “never change a winning team”, developer Neon Studios has added nothing new in particular. Walking through an area still consists out of jumping, jumping and jumping. It doesn’t matter if it’s from rock to rock, from wire to wire, from branch to branch, from mushroom to mushroom… jumping remains jumping. To add some variation to the jumping, Neon has added some minigames, like sailing with a boat, or racing with boars. Especially fun is that you can play those races again at any time, which is handy to rest out after a hard boss. And those can be really frustrating. It all starts out pretty easy, but that changes quick. Battles become harder and harder, and jumps become larger and larger. It looks like an easy platformer at first sight, but let me tell you, it’s definitely not.
Like most platformers, Legend of Kay has trouble with the camera sometimes. Especially inside houses you have to stand still to rotate your camera so you can see anything -which changes back when you do a step forward. Also during fights this can be pretty irritating. You can see the arrows, but not the enemies themselves. You always know what side the enemy is, but not how far. You’re still bashing one lousy rat, while the other is suddenly standing right next to you. Strangely, I’ve forgiven the camera because of the brilliant save-system. Once in a while you come across a shrine. When you walk next to it, the game will automatically save. This makes sure you never see any annoying savescreens again. It should be adapted by other games.
Where Legend of Kay also gets a lot of points, is the atmosphere. The oriental environments are great. The areas are designed excellent, with some beautiful transitions between them. Too bad Legend of Kay is linear, because exploring areas would be immensely time consuming. Some textures are blurry and there are some framerate drops, but those are -graphically- the only flaws. It’s pleasant that the world is alive. Butterflies, birds, cradling flowers, it’s all there.
Soundwise it’s the same. Whistling birds and oriental music fit perfectly with the graphics. But, the voice acting could be better. Some characters are okay -like the hilarious rats- but the most are not convincing and boring. Especially the voice of Kay -sounding like a little boy- irritated me from the start. Thank god there isn’t much talking.
Legend of Kay doesn’t add a lot to the genre. The story is lame and the gameplay isn’t original. Nevertheless, the extensive combat and the great atmosphere lead to a couple of non-boring hours. Because of the high difficulty now and then you’re certain of some long playtimes. Oh, and -I have to mention it again- the save feature is the best I’ve ever seen. Conclusion: looking for a descent platformer, nothing more, nothing less? Then you might try considering Legend of Kay.