Indie developers are usually recognized to take risks and create content that is outside of the normal boundaries of commercial games. As soon as I loaded the game Kyurinaga’s Revenge from RECOtechnology, I knew that I was going to be playing something special: the splash screen was displaying a duo of samurai, but one of them was an onion and the other one was broccoli… Is the game original? Yes. Is the world nicely created? Yes. Is the game worth playing? Mostly I say yes, but there is some caveat. I’ll explain what I mean.
First of all, let’s start by saying that Kyurinaga’s Revenge is an action platformer with puzzle sequences set in a fantasy Asiatic world, where magic, legendary weapons and samurais are common. You can play as either Kaoru Tamanegi (the onion) or Broccoli Joe (…the broccoli…). Unfortunately, the story itself is pretty much forgettable and full of cliché: an evil sorcerer wants to conquer the world, you need to have in your possession the legendary weapons of the past to vanquish him. The only other character you meet is your sensei, which happens to be… a radish… so yeah, the vegetables element goes deep!
As you play as one character, the other follows you. The entire game can be played in cooperative mode. Kaoru is a short, round guy that has bombs as a special ability; Broccoli can throw spears. You need the abilities of both protagonists to explore the environments. You can switch the character you want to control at anytime, and it becomes essential to resolve some of the puzzles that the game throws at you. They are usually not very difficult, but fun to resolve.
The platforming sections of the game form the major gameplay elements, and they are unfortunately plagued by a very important aspect; the difficulty level is very uneven and can lead to very frustrating parts. You don’t have any kind of energy bar or anything like that, which means that you get hit, you die. The game throws very difficult sections at you, for example, moving platforms can sometimes coexist with enemies and projectiles to dodge, holes you can fall in and spikes. Sometimes, even all of that is combined in an escape sequence, where the screen advances by itself, so you have to be very fast to dodge everything and survive. By reading this, you may think, “well, with decent checkpoints, it just creates an interesting challenge”, and I would agree, but it isn’t the case for this game. The checkpoints are very rare, and you can sometimes play more than 5 minutes without having one. You are always on the adrenaline of finding one, which I found too much for this game. It creates an ensemble that is chaotic, frenetic, but very difficult. The situation is the same for the 2 boss battle levels. Having a more than 5 minutes boss battle with a monster that can kill you with every action, without any checkpoints is nerve-racking. After finishing the game, when I checked the trophies, I saw that only 2.6% of people actually finished it… this is usually a sign that most got discouraged and just abandoned before the end, which is not ideal.
One of the type of sequences that I did really appreciate though is in a form of quick-time events representing a battle, resisting hordes of enemies going straight for you, which you have to counter pressing on the appropriate chains of buttons. Both characters are present, so you have to switch between both to resist from both sides. If one dies, you have a little period of time to try to revive him using a sequence of buttons. It is frantic, fast, fun, and can be succeeded even if you have to do revival operations multiple times. Possibly the most fun I had during my entire playthrough.
Despite the level design flaws I mentioned earlier, I have to salute the efforts of creating very varied challenges in this world. Combining collect-a-thon, with escapes, battles, quick time events, in a world that is mostly 2D but with some 2.5D parts is quite an accomplishment. It is what really kept me playing.
I have no major complaints about the technical sides of the experience. The game was smooth for the most parts. I didn’t experience any crashes. There was some lag in very heavy scenes, but never more than a fraction of a second, so it never caused any real issues in my gameplay, only some moments of discomfort in terms of immersion into the game. There are no voice-overs during the entire game. The cutscenes were never too long, but could at any time be skipped at the press of a button. The music was present, of good taste, but forgettable. There were no game breakers, but nothing really stuck with me, even when I was done playing it.
For the achievements/trophies hunter, this game is a full package and has a platinum trophy. I have to say though that the level of difficulty for obtaining about half of them is almost non human! With all the problems that I mentioned regarding the level designs and its difficulty level, trying to finish all the levels, in one life, without any checkpoints?!?! At the time I’m writing this, it was not even done, and no one has succeeded in having the platinum. If you want to tackle this, I can only wish you good luck…
Once you are done with the game, you unlock two additional gameplay modes: one is based around a 2 player local co-op setup where you need to disarm traps and survive together; the other one is a horde mode, based on the quick time events sequences of the campaign, where you just need to survive as longs as possible. These are not bad rewards, but not great either. I wish there would have been something more for succeeding in finishing such a difficult game.
Despite all of its shortcomings, I don’t regret playing the game at all. The variety of the levels kept everything fresh all the time. The world is well realized, and we could really see inspirations coming from other games in the genre like Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong Country (among other things). If you want to challenge yourself, this is an original game worth playing.
(The review was based on the PS4 version. The multiplayer segments were mentioned, but not reviewed, due to the fact that I was unable to play them.)