It’s so great to see the metroidvania genre flourishing, especially under the guidance of new development teams that really know how to take it places. This goes for Kunai, a thrilling adventure from the team at TurtleBlaze. What it may lack in overall color, it more than makes up for with creative level design, fun enemy dispatching and, of course, a stylish hero that stands out in their own right.
The game puts you in control of Tabby, a tablet-like hero who uses special limbs to unleash weapons, as well as various guns. Over the course of the game, they’ll run into trouble, as well as challenging platforming segments where one wrong misstep easily spells death. Fortunately, you can utilize a pair of kunai spears to get across chasms, large gaps and more. It grapples on most surfaces, letting you swing and get to higher areas with ease. But you’ll still need to watch for foes, as well as troublesome areas where the kunai and the surface just don’t mix. (Looking at you, solid walls.)
Kunai benefits from a large, luxurious world, filled with secrets, new characters, memorable boss fights and more. At first, it looks small. But after the first hour goes by, you see it really start to open up, presenting more of the impressive story as it goes on. And the game doesn’t get boring, as it throws new challenges your way to keep you on your toes — so keep those kunai fresh by your side.
While the game doesn’t go overboard with colors, it doesn’t need to. TurtleBlaze’s minimalist design works wonders here, particularly with the animations and the background design. Tabby’s reactions are well done, really giving him a level of personality most heroes are missing. And finding secrets can be a lot of fun as well. The game does have a little bit of backtracking, but it’s really not as severe as you might think.
I also enjoyed the weapon play within Kunai. Along with the two spear-like items to get around, your sword really makes a difference, and the amount of secondary weapons you come across are truly impressive. Just wait until you get your hands on a rocket launcher. FOOM!
I also enjoyed the soundtrack provided to the game, evoking memories of old-school platformers. There’s very little dialogue, but, again, TurtleBlaze does so much with so little. I’m fine with how this came across.
It can take a few good hours to get through Kunai — about six to ten — and finding all the bonus hats are really cool. Outside of that, there’s not too much else here, but the journey definitely pays off over the destination. In spades.
You may already have your fill of Metroidvania games on your Switch (or other system of choice), but don’t sleep on Kunai. It doesn’t look like much at first, but once you give it a chance, you’ll find that it really grows on you. The gameplay, the presentation, the secrets…it all comes together. Not bad for a game that has you playing a hero made up of a simple tablet. Well, maybe not that simple…
Kunai is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.