KUNAI / DEVELOPER: TURTLEBLAZE / PUBLISHER: THE ARCADE CREW / PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Kunai is a Metroidvania from indie developers TurtleBlaze, in which you control an iPad-style tablet on legs that picks up a couple of grappling hook weapons known as Kunai. These allow you to traverse the world at great speeds, grappling up walls and swinging around like Spider-Man.
The left and right Kunai are mapped to the corresponding triggers, which allows solid freedom of movement and frees up your thumb to handle jumping, melee attacks and projectiles. The combat is fun and satisfying - you can almost feel the hits, and the downward strikes are straight out of Hollow Knight (which is the ultimate compliment). Like with any good Metroidvania there is a range of enemy types, all with different attacks and weaknesses. New skills and upgrades can be unlocked when you get enough currency, but the more vital ones are unlocked during the story, allowing access to previously blocked off areas.
The story is that you – a sentient tablet called Tabby – wake up in a world overrun by CRT monitors, and you set off to help the resistance fight back to save the earth. After that, the game doesn’t let you get too bogged down with the story, and lets you just enjoy playing. The last chapter does however add a lot more story content through interesting forms that would have been good to have seen more of.
Kunai's simplistic retro art style is attractive but never really pushes itself. The world is often bland and samey, and most of the areas lack charm. The first three quarters of the game's level design is mostly forgettable, but the last couple of zones do improve on this in both style and substance. The music and sound effects, on the other hand, are solid throughout.
Overall, Kunai is a great game set in a world that doesn’t quite realise its potential. Its traversal mechanics are some of the most fun of its kind though, and the combat is certainly up there, making this worthy of your time.