01/01/2021

๐Ÿฆน‍♂️ Kunai | Review | PC | "Kunai might win the prize for best/worst bad guy name" ๐Ÿฆน‍♂️ @TurtleBlaze #GameDev #IndieGames

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Kunai might win the prize for best/worst bad guy name. 

The antagonist is an evil AI named Lemonkus. 

I know!

Anyhow, Lemonkus has pretty much achieved Bender's dream of killing all humans, leaving the planet mostly populated by robots. 

Your character is Tabby, a robot ninja with a tablet for a face, giving him a big range of expressions, from the default cheery grin to a full-on nutcase glare.

Kunai is a good example of the Metroidvania genre without bringing anything truly new. The kunai of the title are a pair of grappling hooks that let you swing around the environment and help with exploration, as well as letting you move around enemies for easier kills.

The main weapon is a katana which you can use on the ground or in mid-air; the latter attack bounces you up again, meaning you can take out quite a few enemies without touching the ground. In theory anyway, as I never got good enough at it to manage it for more than a few hits. The katana also deflects bullets, which again was a bit of a hit-and-miss option for me.

The game takes place across a large number of interconnected maps, meaning you do have to backtrack here and there to get to the next area or to find a switch to unlock a door or a new weapon. 

There are save-points dotted around too, and dying just sends you back to the last one you used. Your energy bar is fairly big so it shouldn't happen that often, apart from in the boss fights. 
Happily, the bosses all seem to live next door to a save-point, so you never have to spend ages traipsing back through to get killed again. Most of the boss fights rely on the old gameplay loop where you die having learned a bit more about its attack patterns, so you can get a bit closer to victory next time. 

Some of the fights are very tough, so it's not so much of a loop as an entire box of Cheerios.

The graphics are very nice pixel art with a mostly muted palette, with the enemies displaying bright red highlights, and your occasional allies in blue. The music is a chiptuney retro fare that sits really well with the theme.

As you progress through the game you can unlock more weapons, such as electric shuriken (which can open certain doors as well as stun enemies) and a rocket launcher that you can use to destroy scenery items and rocket jump. Other than their use in progression though, they're just not as fun as using the katana, so you'll probably leave them mostly alone, especially as you can power up the katana to do a ton more damage.
I enjoyed this one up to a point. The devs have done a really good job with the setting, the chunky sprites and fast-paced gameplay complementing the whole retro vibe. 

It would have been nice if the extra weapons were more fun than the default one, and some of the boss fights are real difficulty spikes that did feel unfair at times. 

Kunai is a good game, but with a bit more polish in the gameplay, it could have been great. 

I'm hoping for a sequel.

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