by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
TEN YEAR OLD CAT
A little over ten years on from its original release, Legend of Kay Anniversary has arrived to teach us "The Way" once again. It tells the story of one cat’s mission to save his home from the menacing gorillas and rats which have overtaken it. Luckily, this particular cat has ninja skills and a bunch of weapons to boot. Its brand of platforming mixed with combat may be a welcome whiff of nostalgia for some, but its execution and ideas are things which should probably be left in the past.
It sounds like a bit of a wacky story, but really the animal characters are the only thing preventing this from being a bog standard fantasy tale of oppression and rebellion. Some of the characters are cute, some are tedious, and they all have strange accents you wouldn’t really associate with that animal. The Jamaican frog, for instance. Most importantly, the main character, Kay, is highly unlikable as protagonists go. A whiny teenager who jumps straight to tame insults rather than talking things out in a civilized way, Kay isn’t someone I enjoyed playing as. The voice acting is generally poor across the board, which doesn’t help matters.
After a very slow start featuring about an hour’s worth of story setup and tutorials which dragged on far too long, you’re let loose into the world in order to try and save your home of Yenching. The game takes place across 25 levels, where you’ll meet all manner of creatures, from the aforementioned gorillas and rats, to hares, pandas, and even a dragon or two. Major plot points are usually saved for the end of each level, and are told in a comic book style. Cutscenes in between generally take way too long without really giving you too much story, as does the dialogue. An odd menu option gives you the ability to skip cutscenes with a button press. Why this isn’t available without going into the menu and selecting it is somewhat puzzling.
The action is a mix between open platforming sections with a few puzzles, and combat against enemies such as crocodiles and flying bugs. None of it is particularly good, especially by today’s standards. Platforming in particular is marred by floaty controls and useless camera angles. All too often I thought I had lined up a jump, only for Kay to miss grabbing the next rope or ledge, falling to his doom in a bottomless pit, and resetting at a previous checkpoint with one health chunk taken away. He has a double jump, and even a boost jump if you crouch first, but for all his maneuverability, I usually felt frustrated by the platforming. At least there is no fall damage if you fall onto solid ground - cats always land on their feet after all.
Combat starts off pretty simple, and only changes very slightly when you unlock new weapons. A sword, a hammer, and claws will eventually be at your disposal, but either way you’ll essentially just be hammering on the attack button and dodging out the way of attacks. Once you build up a combo, Kay can jump to a nearby enemy instantly, setting up another attack. As your combo grows, you do more damage. These combo jumps can also be used to cross gaps that you would not normally be able to traverse by jumping. The combo system is the most fluid part of the game, and works pretty well.
Alternatively, you can use magical attacks to defeat your enemies, which uses up a meter which is refilled by certain pickups. Other pickups include health, and money which is used to purchase items at the shop. These will generally increase your combat ability, by making your sword flaming for a short period, or a hornet potion will send out a swarm of stinging insects that will aid you in the fight against enemies. One type of potion will actually reveal portals into another world, giving you access to hidden secrets. Bombs can of course be used to damage enemies, but are also useful in blowing up sections of wall to unveil new paths or extra loot.
YOUR NINE LIVES ARE UP
Other than occasional bouts of frustration brought on by poor camera angles, there’s not much wrong with Legend of Kay Anniversary. That said, in 2015, we’ve seen it all before. It looks nicer than it did 10 years ago, but not enough to say that it looks good by today’s standards. If you’re someone who loved the original and is excited to play again with updated visuals, then by all means, check it out. For everyone else, there are better games of the same type for you to play out right now. Kay probably has nine lives, but sadly, it looks like they’ve just about run out.
Combo system is fluid and works well
Poor camera controls, updated visuals still don’t look great, characters not engaging