Blade Kitten review
This is why you wake up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday
Blade Kitten, for all the mediocre ratings it gets from a lot of sites and gamers, is actually a good game. Just because Krome Studios aren't Insomniac or Naughty Dog doesn't mean you automatically count them out.. sure, Ty The Tasmanian Tiger didn't rock my jock, but that trilogy was enjoyable enough to keep my attention. Maybe my standards are too low? Well, maybe I take it easy on smaller developers, especially if they're local. But at the same time, I still have decent standards - that is to say if I like it, I like it, and if I don't like it, I don't like it, and so on, and so forth. Obviously, I liked Blade Kitten for what it had to offer, and had a few issues with what it could've delivered if they didn't opt for the episodic approach... hmm, sounds familiar, doesn't it? Oh wait, that didn't exist when this was made, so let's pretend it doesn't exist for now.
Unfortunately, we must start at a low note. The story sucks. I mean, it sounds like it could be cool, tracking down a troublemaker on this planetoid or "minor planet" called Hollow Wish, but then uncovering some dark secrets about the planetoid's residents. Seriously, it sounds like it has a lot of potential to be an awesome story, but everything ends up being told to you in fragments, never finishing themselves. As you progress, you'll find yourself not really investing much attention, because of how fragmented it is. The way it presents itself is like a Saturday morning cartoon, in which it isn't all serious shit - there is some humor to be found via the cheesy writing, especially in Kit's character who makes the occasional sarcastic remark, but other than Kit, the characters aren't all that interesting, despite whatever humor could be derived from them. Because of the humor however, the cutscenes aren't totally impossible to watch... just impossible to care about. It might have to do with this bright idea of episodic content... if so, then it goes to show that this isn't exactly the best idea. I think the writers should've given themselves more time to flesh out some stuff. Odds are, episode 2 (if it's ever created, as Krome Studios is dead) should have more new stuff to cover, and should flesh stuff out even further... but at the moment, it's just a middle finger in your face!
Yes, I know it's based off of a web comic, but the way the game tells the story makes you want to read the web comics, just to figure out what the *bleep* they're going on about. I shouldn't need to look up source material to understand something... I should be able to play through a game, understand the story and draw my own conclusions from parts DESIGNED to make you want to do that, instead of going through half written stories and getting confused because... well, you get it by now.
Blade Kitten is a Metroid-ish platformer where you have to kill enemies, while the levels give you opportunities to explore. Unlike Metroid, you don't really have to explore... I mean, you could, but the most you'll get out of it is some extra cash or "Hexes" to buy health, stamina, weapons and costumes. The objective is to go from Point A to Point B - the extras like treasure chests just increase replay value if you're looking to get some achievements/trophies.
Basically, levels have a lot of nooks and crannies you can slide under, climb up/down/across or break with your telekinetically controlled sword. Krome spared no expense in making each level the size of each world in the Metroid games. Even though the path to the finish is mostly linear, there aren't any penalties in looking around. Actually, looking around will make it easier for you to buy the various upgrades and costumes throughout the game, especially the last two costumes - shit, they're expensive, with one costing 450000 Hexes, and the other needing 560000. It may require you to play through levels a number of times, but it'll be worth it, just to see how much detail there is in each design. Often, you'll find warps, which warp you to another section of the level, albeit much shorter, and you can find chests and more Hexes in each of them.
It's not all walking, scaling and sliding though - you have to do a fair amount of jumping, as well. This IS a platformer, remember? A 2.5D one, to be precise, as much as you'd like to follow some walkways that are facing upwards, downwards or anything that isn't a 90 degree angle, you're stuck on that 90 degree angle. Anyway, the jumping can be a little tricky at first, as Kit's jumping mechanics are a bit on the floaty side, not to mention her movement feels slippery. It'll be tricky at first to properly gauge your jumps, especially on platforms she doesn't magnetize herself towards (see any platforms with a pink aura at the top? that attracts Kit), but with a little time, you'll be able to jump over this hurdle and cross the finish line.
Oh, and you get to ride a big reptilian chicken looking thing. Always counts for something when animals help you in progressing faster, and being able to demolish rocks that, while breakable, are too sturdy for Kit's sword, though it doesn't do much else. Just worth noting, that's all.
But then there's the other half of Blade Kitten - the combat. It looks promising in the sense that you can slash enemies from close up, or drain a little bit of stamina to attack from a little further back, and you can also perch on enemies by pressing the guard button just as you're about to land on them (as long as you have a lot of stamina). Also, if you run and attack, sometimes, you can do a critical attack, which nets you more Hex from a downed enemy. But as you progress, it becomes problematic... no, not on Kit's end; more on the bad guys' ends! They don't offer much resistance, like they're on a suicide mission and just don't give a shit. Sure, some enemies guard or have shields, but then you jump behind them and swipe them - success! Hell, they don't stand a chance against the running attack, and you get even more Hex from them! Oh, and health automatically regenerates if you go a little while without getting hit. Weak. Overall, combat is shallow, and the enemies just suck, but then there's a certain satisfaction in being a chick with cat ears who can decimate armies upon armies of soldiers...
The graphics are actually pretty damn good. I wasn't expecting much, but man, these managed to impress me. Sure, there aren't any overly detailed textures, but given the sizes of each level, that's to be expected, plus the Saturday morning cartoon look suits the cheesy writing very well. In fact, watching each of the cutscenes is like waking up at 7 in the morning on a Saturday with the TV on quietly so you don't wake up everyone else in the house. The colors are as vibrant as they should be - lively, but not an eyesore. In fact, there's nothing bad I can say about about the gra-- actually, yes there is. While playing, you'll notice that Kit's running animation doesn't seem to move at the speed that the model is. Just a very minor detail, but it's one you'll see throughout most of the game, so it's worth pointing out, especially when the other animations are top notch, all fluid and shit.
As for the sound design, ehh, the soundtrack doesn't really stick in your mind. Aside from the title song, they're easily forgettable... in saying that, while you're listening to each song, you'll find yourself really enjoying them. They're pretty upbeat and make the levels seem more entertaining, as there's always something interesting to listen to. Nothing special, but this OST is going straight onto my computer. Then there's the voice acting, which is like the writing and the graphical design - like it's been lifted right out of a Saturday morning cartoon, like a cheeseburger with extra cheese. It's good, no doubt about that, but it's not like it's going to blow your mind away or anything...
Combat is pretty simple, but it works well, though it could be a bit more complicated than it is. The level designs are fantastic, with many nooks and crannies to explore, though ultimately, you're going from Point A to Point B. Just nice knowing that there's a lot of effort put into each level.
When against walls, it's a bit fidgety as Kit often clings onto walls upon contact. Movement, overall, is fairly slippery, and jumping can feel pretty floaty, but it's easy to get used to. The control scheme is pretty simple if you give it its time in the sun.
The story itself sucks. Everything seems so disjointed, like they introduced them at the last second with no rhyme or reason. At the same time, the characters at least provide some humor here and there to make the cutscenes more bearable.
Vibrant with dashes of Saturday morning cartoon-esque styles - the game is definitely nice to look at, and the animations are also pretty fluid, except Kit's in game moving animation, which feels a little stiff.
The soundtrack sounds really cool while you're listening to it, all upbeat and such, but it's not something that sticks in your mind. The voice acting has that Saturday morning feel to it that goes with the visuals and writing.
Even though the campaign is about 4 hours long, there's still a fair amount to do. Missed any chests? Take some time to explore the levels more than you did before. Don't forget the other 9 achievements/trophies!
Despite its simplicity, combat is still pretty fun, as is exploring every nook and cranny of each level. It's only unfun when enemies guard constantly, especially shielded ones, only to *bleep* you a few seconds later. It's never really frustrating, though... actually, it's pretty easy.
Blade Kitten is a good game, but man, does it disappoint as you progress, or what? The combat starts off solid, but it remains stagnant and honestly could've been much more. The story seems good, but has that disjointed feeling, like they didn't actually finish it, and just hoped the second episode, should it ever exist, do it instead. Finally, the animals were just faster and broke sturdier breakable objects - whoop-dee-do! Everything else is done right, but with those three really screwing the game over, plus Krome isn't a big name developer, it's little wonder that Blade Kitten got mediocre reception. Well, I liked it, and I recommend it to anybody else who likes sidescrolling platformers! Just don't expect anything epic, okay?
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