Monday 3 April 2023

Kraino Origins Review (Switch)

The releases of 8-bit styled platform games for new systems show no sign of abating with Kraino Origins the latest to join the ranks. A level based, action platformer it see’s you take control of a scythe wielding skeleton who must make his way across eight levels, defeating undead themed enemies and bosses along the way. 

Our initial impressions were that this reminded us a lot of indie darling Shovel Knight. The graphic style and look are very similar, especially the Spectre Knight story. Some of the mechanics are the same as well with players able to bounce off enemies by striking downward with the scythe and losing a percentage of gold when they die which hangs in the air waiting to be recollected. But in terms of actual level design and overall content this is more hardcore, and action based. 

It's not the longest of games with only eight levels to complete (and eight additional challenge levels), but each is fairly long and individual enough to stop repetition setting in. Levels include burning towns, sewers and an active volcano and continually introduce new obstacles and enemies to overcome. The stages are tough, but checkpoints are plentiful so most players will progress if they stick at it. Bosses are also a highlight with each starting out daunting but beatable once you learn their attack patterns. 

Controls are crisp and responsive, which is vital for a game as challenging as this, and each time you die you’ll learn something to better prepare you for the next time. There are also various upgrades to your health and magic weapons that you can find along your journey to help you out. One troupe we could have really done without though is the ‘fight all the bosses again in a row’ thing that most retro games of this type used to throw at you back on the NES. It was never good and when it reared its head in level 7 it was very much unwelcome. 

Overall, Kraino is a great looking, fun game that is worth checking out for people who can’t get enough of that retro aesthetic. It doesn’t really do anything new or innovative and it’s not as polished or epic as something like Shovel Knight but for a short platform adventure to play on the move it fits the Switch perfectly fine. There are also foundations here to build on as everything works well, it just needs a bit more of it and a few more new ideas. The developer is clearly one to keep an eye on though. 

Overall 7/10

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