KUNAI is set in a post-apocalypic alternate future where robots are the sole lifeform due to a catastrophic event caused by the evil artificial intelligence known as Lemonkus. You play as Tabby, a sentient tablet with the spirit of an ancient warrior, as you delve into the depths of Earth’s ruins to uncover ancient weapons and face Lemonkus face-to-face. With its minimalistic art style and slick control movements, Kunai will have you feeling like a real robot ninja.
For a Metroidvania, movement is very important and you’ll want it to be as satisfying as possible as you explore the world and its various areas. KUNAI as smooth as butter and the game runs without a hitch, making it a very only experience throughout. This is crucial due to the game’s primary mechanic being the Kunai, as is suggested by the game’s title. They work as independent grappling hooks that allow you to swing from wall-to-wall. Throughout most of the game, I honestly felt like a futuristic robot Spiderman… it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more.
You’ll find more abilities as you progress through the game, much like most Metroidvanias in the same vein. When you find Wi-Fi Routers, you can use your gems to upgrade them, creating reward for your efforts and exploration.
Each section has a certain amount of hidden chests that either contain heart pieces to upgrade your health, H.A.T.S that are purely cosmetic or the game’s form of currency that resemble gems. After finding a few H.A.T.S for my own personal amusement, I found myself always getting disappointed when I found another one as I was wanting something that provided a tangible upgrade. However, you can’t always get what you want, which is part of the fun.
Kunai has a wide variety of enemies that each have their own strategic movements. It makes each new area more exciting and your array of attack options makes engaging with them fresh and exciting. You could go from throwing a Shuriken at a robot with a big sword to stun them and move in close for the kill to using your Katana to bounce an onslaught of bullets fired at you by a gun turret.
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Kunai has incredible HD Rumble effects that makes each movement feel alive with haptic feedback. From blowing things up to jumping and landing, each movement feels incredibly responsive and only serves to compliment how smooth the game runs.
World / Level Design
As previously mentioned, the entire map is designed around the kunai and Tabby’s other many abilities that you learn along the way. You’ll find yourself going back to previously explored areas with your new abilities to open up new areas, both as part of the main plot and for just sheer exploration. This is a Metroidvania done right as the world design is entirely built around your progression.
Rather than each area feeling segmented from one another, the game has you traversing them as though they’re interconnected. This results in the world feeling a lot more fluent and cohesive, a believable post-apocalyptic dystopia that is solely occupied by electronics.
As a Metroidvania, you want to know that your actions are being made towards an overarching story without it becoming too intrusive. Kunai knows exactly how this flow needs to be and provides the correct amount of story beats without feeling like you’re constantly starting and stopping.
The plot itself isn’t anything unique, rather it is the setting and atmosphere that provides Kunai with its originality. The primary antagonist dons the misunderstood villain archetype that takes their actions many steps too far and is therefore blinded by their own sense of what is right. After the final boss battle, the game unfortunately ended on a somewhat anti-climactic note that failed to provide any additional depth.
NPCs and their dialogue is where KUNAI’s story truly shines, with a lot of witty one-liners that often made me chuckle. While the character’s are all ultimately unmemorable as they all look very similar, I tended to remember the lines more than who said them.
Graphics / Art Direction
KUNAI’s aesthetics are truly incredible; not necessarily in its complexity, but rather how much detail can be added in its minimalistic approach. The game opts for a more texture-free aesthetic, with clearcut designs for a more picture book appeal. However within this design comes many subtleties, such as an occasional park bench or some foreground details that adds additional depth to a 2D Metroidvania. Seeing piles of scrapped robots did well to add to the game’s dystopian setting without it becoming too intrusive.
Music / Sound Design
Where KUNAI with its graphics, the same cannot be said about its soundtrack. That isn’t to say that it is poor, just simply unmemorable. It does well at creating the ambience however after a full 10 hours with it, I cannot recall a single melody. However, the sound effects were certainly impactful, really playing into effect upon attacking an enemy, swinging from wall-to-wall or blowing up some rocks with the Rocket Launcher.
Final Score: 90%
KUNAI is a must-play for any Metroidvania fan. It’s one of those gems that if it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, it may be criminally overlooked. With game-changing mechanics, a beautifully minimalistic art style and delightful charm, it’s an adventure that’s going to slot in comfortably amongst the greats of the genre.
Thank you for checking out our Kunai Switch review, thank you The Arcade Crew for providing us with the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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