PREVIEW: Kinetic Edge

Jan
13

PREVIEW: Kinetic Edge

Kinetic Edge – be the ball. Or cube.

Released: Steam
Type: Multi-player
Genre: Puzzle Platformer,
Physics, Racing, 3D
Developer: Developer
Publisher: Publisher
Release date: 21 Jan, 2021

At a glance

Kinetic Edge is an upcoming game by Indie game developer SCT that I was allowed to preview for Save or Quit.

At first glance the game promises a fun experience in both single player and multiplayer modes – competing against either the clock or other players respectively.

Players can select from a variety of shapes which they must then bounce and dash across a variety of tracks and obstacles in hopes of shaving ever more seconds off their records.

Race through obstacle courses, play maxi-midget golf, solve a maze or two or brace yourself for the gauntlet challenge.

Presented in a crisp neon aesthetic the game purports hours of retro-neo(n) fun.

While that all sounds great on paper, in reality we gamers all too often see that there is either a very fine line or a gargantuan chasm between promises and the realised end-product.

As a (non-game) developer myself I know how hard it is to bring ideas to fruition. As such I find it difficult to judge the efforts of a small team too harshly – but in this case I see no other choice: Back to the drawing board or Quit.

The Good

  • Pleasing aesthetic
  • Decent soundtrack
  • Both single- and multiplayer

The Meh / Not-so-Good

  • Repetitive gameplay; it’s all about the dash button.
  • Non-existent camera automation
  • Limited gamepad support (in-game only)
  • Visually messy and incoherent level design

Race.

Analysis / In-Depth Review

Gameplay

Neon galore.

Mechanics

As described in the ‘at a glance’ section of the review, the object of the game is to navigate a geometric shape of your choosing through various obstacle courses and mazes – or to putt the ball in a game of mega-midget golf.

Camera control is entirely manual – without any automation whatsoever, nor any imposed limitation on panning for that matter – which often results in either zero visibility or floors and walls doing surprise disappearing acts.

Oh floor – where art thou?

While spherical shapes can be manoeuvred around by means of rolling – most of the players efforts to traverse the terrain will need to be done by means of dashing and bouncing (especially with non-spherical shapes). The latter of which mainly becomes effective after mastering the art of pressing jump immediately on impact from a previous jump. I assume this is where the ‘kinetic edge’ comes in as there is little or no kinetic redirection to be found anywhere else in the game.

At first glance levels look a little intimidating with their Frankenstein-esque assortment of sections, but it soon becomes clear what the gist of the level will be despite appearances: bounce and dash uphill, with rolling being nigh irrelevant beyond the first few yards.

Stairs, stairs and more stairs. With a side-order of stairs.

As the game is time based – players get an infinite number of tries (‘respawns’), with the only real penalty being having to wait until a certain plummet depth has been reached rather than allowing players to keep the flow of the game going by re-spawning immediately after falling off the edge.

So… is this punishment for having fallen off the path? Or is there some mystery power-up available that allows me to get back on track..?

All in all the game offers 12 levels of gameplay. 5 races / obstacle courses, 3 mazes, 3 golf courses and 1 gauntlet challenge.

A limited offering to say the least – but the developer does mention their intention to expand on the number of levels and game modes on their Steam page.

Presentation

Graphics

Mystery neon golf. Play to find out where the ball is supposed to go.

Graphically the game looks decent enough, although the lack of proper lighting makes for a muddled composition – especially when passing through checkpoints.

There is plenty of potential to build upon – but as it stands it looks amateurish. From the unfinished and unpolished menu system all the way through to the end.

Good looking maze. Simple but effective.

Audio

The games sound effects and music match the game’s atmosphere well and provide the necessary amount of immersion – but it definitely needs adding to as it gets repetitive fairly quickly. Not much else to say on this front.

Psychedelic.

Technical

Performance

The game runs well on a Ryzen 5 with integrated graphics @ 1080p with each setting on ultra – so requirements are fairly modest.

Bugs / Glitches

No bugs encountered, save the lack of gamepad support when navigating the menu system – which is either a bug or something the developer simply hasn’t implemented yet.

Conclusion

All in all this game is reminiscent of open source games like Neverball – solid enough in basic construction, but void of professional polish on virtually every front.

The game has potential – but as of yet that potential is entirely unrealised. I found the game to be immensely boring and tedious, milking its ideas well beyond the point of safe return. Its one saving grace may be the addition of multiplayer – which I wasn’t able to test due to the games preview status.

Unless the developer polishes lighting, shadows and level design as well as adding various novel play-modes and levels (leaving behind stair climbing as a gimmick) this game really should be free-to-play rather than pay-to-play. As it stands – it barely serves as a tech demo or showcase – let alone being considered a game worth paying for.

Quit for now, not worth saving for later – until much-much later.

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