Kamiko (NS) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 15 May 2017 / 10,737 Views
It always happens; a new platform is released, and with so few games available on the market, you pretty much buy whatever comes out for it. This perfectly describes my purchase of Kamiko, a top-down action game in which you kill monsters in order to restore the world back to its former glory, all for the cheap, cheap price of £4.49/$4.99.
Kamiko quickly throws you into the action; after selecting your main character (there are three to choose from) and watching the short intro, you're given control of said character. The controls are basic - B is used to sprint and A to attack and interact with items in the environment - representing a literal return to basics compared to most other games on the market.
What’s first apparent when jumping into Kamiko is its splendid pixel art. In my relatively short time with the game I consistently felt a sense of nostalgia for last year's Hyper Light Drifter and its splendid pixel graphics. The comparisons with other recent pixel art games don’t stop at the art style, though, the game's bosses are also reminiscent of Titan Souls'.
The whole game centres around four stages, each with four gates that must be cured of their darkness. Each gate is locked until you collect enough crystals to unlock it, and these in turn are earned by killing enemies found in the stages. Multiple paths can be taken to get to each gate, and as you go down these paths you must collect keys or other items to unlock doors. Unfortunately things can get confusing quite quickly and I often found myself going in circles trying to find the exact key for the door that was blocking my path.
Each character has its own unique special ability (activated by pressing and holding the A button), as well as a unique weapon that controls differently with each playthrough. There’s a girl with a sword, another with a bow and arrow, and finally one with a shield and knife. While the character with the sword is easiest to get to grips with, I found the arrow one best to play with, mainly due to her far and wide reach which allows you to defeat bosses with relative ease.
To make things trickier, your character cannot attack enemies while carrying items, but this proves more a nuisance than anything else - one that's further aggravated by the fact that enemies respawn in exactly the same place each time you re-enter an area. Touching an enemy will result in you dropping your item, which forces you to repeat the segment. What is initially an intense challenge quickly become irritating and tiresome.
Each stage is visually varied, but little is done to differentiate the gameplay. You still have to carry keys and orbs around, all while avoiding or killing enemies in each section. At one point, on a rain stage, you're tasked with uncovering a path by ending the rain, which is enjoyable. If Kamiko had included more environmental puzzles in this vein then each stage would have been much more interesting to traverse and replay. As it stands, the only reason you’d want to replay the game is for the time trial challenge.
Once you successfully unlock all four gates on a stage you then have to take on a boss. Each boss follows the same basic structure, making them all relatively easy to defeat; the only real challenge comes from the final boss, which takes on multiple forms. Considering the game's relatively short playtime I wish these bosses had been more difficult, so that it was more of an accomplishment to finish it in a short period of time.
The time trial element (the game keeps track of how long it takes you to complete each stage and then presents this to you at the end) is designed to incentivise you to play again, and this worked for me to some extent as I completed Kamiko three times, once with each character. Nonetheless I still found it to be too short and the method of replayability to be too contrived.
For its price Kamiko offers a damn enjoyable time. I took my Nintendo Switch into work each day and over the course of a week of lunches (30 minutes each) I was happily able to complete everything it had to offer. What it lacks in quantity it generally makes up for in quality and some good ideas, I just wish they been expanded upon and resulted in a more memorable experience, rather than a merely adequate one.
This review is based on a digital copy of Kamiko for the NS