With a little help from my friend.
I find myself constantly smattered under a mountain of games. There are so many releases on a weekly basis that my backlog is the thing of legend. So whenever I sit down to review the latest downloadable title that no one knew was releasing this week, my expectations are usually tempered at best. Kick and Fennick looks like just another platformer that will be forgotten next week, and for the most part it is, but there was something hidden underneath its playful disguise that kept me playing, and in this day of game overload, that speaks volumes.
The first thing that jumped out at me was well, the lack of a jump button. If 30+ years of gaming has taught me anything, it is that platform titles usually dedicate one button to make my protagonists lift off the ground to overcome obstacles. Even after finishing this game, I was still trying to press it. That is how ingrained it is into my mind.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, Wii U, Vita
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
Instead, Kick and Fennick is what I like to refer to as a trajectory puzzle game. Early on the player gets access to an energy rifle that propels them into the sky at an angle. This is the entire premise of the game. There are only five chapters, each with a subset of levels, and outside of adding some verticality to the gun’s power, each level consists of simply finding a way to propel Kick across areas and through obstacles – simplicity at its finest.
Each level also has a certain number of items to collect, and one well hidden one. There are costumes to unlock, but much like the game itself, there isn’t a lot here to keep players coming back. Everything can be wiped out in one play through, and seeing a different colored jumpsuit doesn’t exactly drive me to keep coming back.
What is here though plays well and is fun. I found the puzzles simple, yet effective. I just wish they expanded more on the ideas laid out. I wanted to see more upgrades, varying environments, or even a little more complex combat. Nothing ever manifests, and this short adventure concludes far before it becomes interesting.
I really enjoy the simplistic visuals in Kick & Fennick. The world has a muted art style that really works. The camera is where issues can arise. While performance is solid in the beginning, it tends to have trouble keeping up during the faster portions of the game. The camera itself also seems more concerned with delivering a cinematic angle than a useful one. Lots of my deaths towards the end of the game came from a bad perspective rather than a lack of skill.
Kick & Fennick is a charming adventure that never realizes its potential. There is something here that feels unique and exciting, but it never manifests. I had fun romping through the short campaign, but it never really challenged me the way it should have.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.