As you may already know, the labels or genres for today’s PC titles have more than doubled since 2010! They now include popular tags such as twin-stick shooters, cyberpunk action-platformers, roguelike dungeon crawlers and newcomer metroidvania. It’s obvious that the term metroidvania comes from a marriage between Metroid and Castlevania. Given that there are a handful of metroidvania games out there, there is but one that has certainly stood out from the rest – that is Kunai. Kunai plays a lot like the classic Nintendo games – the only difference is that the story and gameplay designs have been adapted for today’s generation of casual gamers. The first time I played it, I felt I was thrown back in another time where video games were much simpler and enjoyable. Kunai knows how to deliver what had excited us as teens, a reminder how good these classic games were to still play again as an adult.
The story of Kunai is pretty simple. Humanity is on the verge of being wiped out by the A.I. gone bad, Lemonkus. The only hero who stands against this apocalyptic annihilation is a killer robot named Tabby. As Tabby, your primary method of attack is a katana. That’s going to be your main arsenal throughout the entire game. As you begin to explore new sections of the map, it’s amazing to see what a single weapon can do. You can dispatch enemies like a knife through a stack of bad Twinkies, while being able to deflect bullets and restore health with it. When you reach a certain level, you’ll gain new “Kunai” gears that can propel you to new heights. These gears will allow you access to tight spots. Using your trigger buttons, you will be able to deploy ropes and swing to where you need to be. The venture of being able to move from one area to another is pretty astonishing in this game. It’s fluid, precise, and a great fun!
The controls are given the right amount of versatility, which makes fighting against an army of rouge androids feel like you are one badass ninja. Because of the great controls, you are able to deliver accurate lightning-quick attacks. Not to mention, you’ve got shuriken and rocket launcher to maximize the brutal damage you can inflict on enemies who try to stop you. The gameplay is so smooth that you don’t even break a stride when switching weapons. The developer puts a lot of thoughts into the action that even the animation has become effectively seamless! Although, the graphics may not represent the ideal high-end visuals that gamers are used to, they are perfect rendition of what an old-school game should be. The game relies heavily on bright color palettes like the ones found on the Gameboy device. What’s cool is that the tone on the background shifts focus, depending on which zone you’re in.
From the very outset, Kunai has all the hallmarks of a true metroidvania. It features an incredible grappling mechanic, a fantastic pixel-art and great soundtrack, which make exploring fun. The combat highlights all there is to creating a hero with agility, finesse, and near instantaneous kills. The game progression is just right, offering new secrets and passage ways upon unlocking old roadblocks. It’s one of those games you can just pickup and easily feel right at home. The developer nails the formula needed to produce an outstanding platformer. I can see how this game can be highly addicting; Kunai gets the 16-bit juice right while it whips its own unique style in the symbolization of what metroidvania is all about.