How original must a video game be to make its mark and be relevant for the medium and, above all, for gamers? If we talk about originality, it instantly comes to mind Undertalea title that, in my opinion, does not yet have a yardstick because no other title comes close to it on a conceptual level, but the same discourse also applies to highly authorial experiments such as Death Stranding.
However, it is clear that not all video games can invent something new, the sector is full of derivative titles that recall other works that preceded them. Why did I consider this premise necessary? Because if I had to describe with just one term kandriathe subject of this review, I would use right “derivative”without any doubt.
Kandria is a strange title to talk about, the feeling of already seen it is strong and constant, yet the starting materials and ideas are used satisfactorily, but without ever being truly memorable. The really peculiar detail of the title is that at the end still manages to be enjoyable, however always remaining in the balance between a good experience and a title that will easily fall into oblivion; which is also a shame, since it presents a game world that I would sincerely like to explore in the future with different points of view than our protagonist.
Kandria: a future… not so future…
There plot of Kandria is all in all simple and, as anticipated, presents many ideas typical of the science fiction genre, in particular of post apocalyptic trend. We will find ourselves taking our first steps in a sort of strange dump, and after a few moments there will be a reversal of perspective when it will be revealed to us that we are an android.
From our awakening to reveal of our true nature there will be very few jokes, yet the first dialogues are constructed in such a way as to still be able to surprise the player and build this “surprise” well. Kandria’s writing actually turns out to be accurate for practically the entire duration of the game, and where we find it predictable situations and intercoms, these are still experienced by stereotyped characters, but undoubtedly well written.
Our ascent to the surface will correspond to a brief tutorial on the protagonist’s ability to move, but once we emerge from the landfill in which we were abandoned, we will be faced with a suggestive panorama, however bare and conforming to the post apocalyptic setting proposed: “Ears of corn? Here?”, the protagonist will be as amazed as we are to see this contradiction between destruction and natureand this sense of surprise will be the emblem of the title itself, contradictory between its not renewing, still managing to attract and entertain the gamer.
Why do I keep not giving a name to the protagonist? The reason is simple… and you’ll find out as you play, I don’t want to spoil this little tidbit about character building. And, as anticipated, they are just the personages that particularly struck me, specifically the way in which they relate to the protagonist: the character we will play in fact it’s not exactly frowned upon by everyone and we will go from those who look at us with distrust to those who choose to trust us, up to those who will openly oppose our presence within this newborn society.
What I was unable to appreciate, paradoxically, is the variety of topics that the game tries to propose: survival, climate emergency, lack of primary resources, infected, distrust in artificial intelligence and so on and so forth. Of course, they are all interesting and also very current narratives, but they approach each other in an awkward way in Kandria, not finding a true uniformity and a common thread and seeming only a confused jumble of topics belonging to the genre.
I’ve seen this gameplay before…
Also from the point of view of gameplayKandria decides not to take risks and to propose a well-tested formula seen in titles such as Narita Boy: we find ourselves basically in front of a Action RPGhowever, the game world develops on a 2D map with a side view and in whose settings there will be a strong element of platforming in two dimensions.
Our protagonist will have agreat mobility: he will be able to jump, shoot, make shots in mid-air to reach distant surfaces and even climb the walls, all of which will be functional to exploration, given the marked verticality of the game environments that will literally take us from the sewers to the top of skyscrapers. I especially liked the platforming stages which offer an excellent degree of challenge: the basic idea of the developers for these sections seems to be taken directly from Celeste, but obviously without ever reaching those peaks of difficulty.
If the platforming and exploration prove to be successful and fun, unfortunately the combat system it lacks a bit of monotony and turns out to be quite flat at times. The main character’s weapon is also interesting: sort of laser katana which if necessary can also transform into other weapons (materializing for example an ax for heavy attacks), but this feature is used to the bare minimum, since, despite the available upgrades for our weapon, we will never be able to really upgrade the combo system, but only increase the damage of single hits, a real shame!
The combat proposed in Kandria is all-round a somewhat wasted opportunity, even the enemies who will hinder us will never be a real threat and even from the point of view of design they are never really inspired. I have the impression that the developers started from the idea of proposing a strongly narrative title based exclusively on exploration and platforming, but in the last stages of development they wanted enter (forcibly) combatwithout however dedicating the right attention to it and only to make it more attractive to a wider audience.
And it’s a real shame, since this contradiction once again returns a picture of the work that it transmits to users piecemeal work, full of ideas and ideas that, however, do not mix well with each other. Probably, the developers have really felt the weight of competitors such as the aforementioned Celeste and Narita Boy, and have therefore preferred to focus on quantity at the expense of quality.
Pleasant technical compartment
As anticipated, one of the most impactful moments of the title will be the one that will see us emerge from the landfill and find ourselves in front of the game world. Not only because of the difference in setting, but also because of the point of view of the title graphic proposes a very successful one pixel arta real tribute to theit was 8 bits that with a handful of pixels still managed to bring characters and settings that have become iconic to the screen.
Also excellent soundtrackwhich deviates strongly from the graphic style and instead proposes a symphony of choirs majestic and evocative that particularly closely recalls that of works such as Horizon Forbidden West. A decidedly risky proposal, since, at least on paper, this choice could clash and create an unsuccessful mix, instead the proposed tracks are so pleasant and catchy that it would be really hard not to appreciate them!
Definitely, kandria it is a title that thrives on contradictions that are not always able to balance each other properly, thus creating moments in which one feels that something is not working properly and others in which the title is played in the most natural way possible. An interesting experiment and at times successful, but which remains a little too close to the sources that inspire it and does not always manage to bring out its own personality.