The Legend of Kay is a game that is remembered by those who played it, especially on the PS2, as a cult classic of sorts; so much so that publisher Nordic Games had the game revamped for current generation consoles and PC in the form of The Legend of Kay Anniversary. Having never played the original, and barely even hearing of it; it’s no wonder I was going into this as a new experience rather than something I was already familiar with. Is it one of those classics that deserve to be remembered as one of the greats? Or is it one of those games that were probably better off being left untouched? These questions will be answered in the following review.
The story of the game is simple, for centuries the civilizations of the island of Yenching lived in harmony thanks to a form of discipline simply called “The Way”, the four civilizations on the island, those being the hares, cats, frogs and pandas, all lived peacefully and adhered to this code. However, as time moved forward the younger generations began abandoning The Way. As a result, the island lost its protection and ended up being prone to attack by the Gorillas and the Rats whom are working together in one cohesive force led by two named figures; Minister Shun of the Gorillas, and Alchemist Tak of the Rats. To say these two rule the roost with an iron fist would be an understatement.
From here, you take control of Kay; a hotheaded young cat lad with a desire to become strong and take on the enemy. However, like most folk in his village, he doesn’t believe in The Way which causes a conundrum. Everyone around him tries to convince him to follow it, but to no avail. He begins to realize his error when his master surrenders to the invading Gorilla + Rat army without a fight. Infuriated, he sneaks in and steals his master’s old sword. The story continues from there, and it continues at the same pace that it started at; basically it’s not a memorable story at all. It’s one that you will most likely forget upon completion of the game itself. That’s not to say that the game isn’t without its charm though, as some of the one-liners peppered throughout are chuckle-worthy puns on the characters being literal, anthropomorphic animals.
Upon booting the game, the first thing I noticed was the visuals, very bright, very colorful, and very reminiscent of games like Jak and Daxter or any other Saturday morning cartoon that you grew up watching. The fps seems to be locked down tight; not a single iota of slowdown or screen tears to be found whatsoever. The game looks okay overall; with these bright visuals being downright refreshing compared to most games today. However, on the same coin, it’s hard to deny that the visuals are also dated, they are not pushing the limits of any of the systems this game is out for. The interface displaying your life meter and quests were overhauled some, and textures here and there were enhanced very nicely, but all in all, you can tell this was originally a game designed for the PS2.
Now normally in many cases this would be a good thing, here? I am honestly not so sure. The camera in the game is very cumbersome and unwieldly at times, this is especially apparent when you enter a new area. It does not pan around to behind Kay’s back automatically meaning that if you want to see the platforming and enemy challenges that lay ahead? You have to turn the camera using the right analog stick yourself. There’s no camera reset button in the game itself to boot, giving this fault some extra weight behind it.
The areas themselves are designed well enough; there are some secrets to be found, but the secrets themselves are none too hard to spot. There’s nothing that is completely out of reach, but detection at times can be a little whacky, requiring multiple tries in order to get to the location you need to go to. This is compounded by the oftentimes unwieldly and frustrating camera that the game has you work with, this camera actually makes it quite easy for you to not spot something that needs to be activated or a platform that you need to hop on in order to get to the next location.
There are a few things the game does to break up the monotony of exploring the areas around you, for one, there are times where you will have to ride on another beast in order to get from point A to point B, don’t think this is a one track ride though; because you will be dodging obstacles along the way. Not only that, if you make one mistake? Yup, you fail the challenge and have to start from the beginning of it. While some would revel in the challenge, especially if you enjoy a game like this. Others will find this to be tedious and incredibly frustrating due to having to go through these trials several times. It doesn’t help that depending on the beast you’re riding, the controls can feel cumbersome.
Combat is there, and it works. It’s simple enough to execute basic attacks and a few tricks. You learn a few fancy moves, some of which will be put to use later on in the game. However, for the most part it is just there, and it can get repetitive, even with the variety of weapons Kay will ultimately have at his disposal. Though the combat can be fun at times, especially when you pull off a move that KOs your enemies, there’s no denying that oftentimes it feels more like a chore and that is not how a game should make the combat feel by any stretch of the imagination.
The soundtrack, much like the combat, is just there, it does have a Chinese/Asian ethnic feel to it, which fits in with the atmosphere of the game itself and is somewhat pleasant to listen to overall. The soundtrack works well in the game, almost always befitting the mood as not a single song is out of place. However, it isn’t what I’d call memorable either with only a few songs being truly standouts throughout the entire game.
Legend of Kay Anniversary Edition is a platformer that has its positives. The platforming itself when it works can be a lot of fun, and the controls are fundamentally sound. However, this isn’t a platformer that makes me wax nostalgic by any stretch of the imagination, and it definitely has its flaws. From the unwieldly camera to the forgettable plot and soundtrack, The Legend of Kay isn’t a game that has aged very well and is one that I feel is priced just right at $24.99 all things considered. I would recommend this game only to those who wax nostalgic for the days of the PS2 or for those who are platforming die-hards.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Developer: Neon Studios
Publisher: Nordic Games
Available on: PS4|PS3|Wii U|Steam
Played on: PS4
Review Copy: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this Review.