Author Topic: Kraino Origins (Switch) Review  (Read 863 times)

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Offline riskman64

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Kraino Origins (Switch) Review
« on: March 28, 2023, 04:00:00 AM »

Even with “Origins” in the title, there’s nothing original about this decent action platformer.

In the world of video games, imitation isn’t always the most sincere form of flattery. Taking the success of one title and trying to emulate it is fine, but many players are looking for something new within the familiar. Kraino Origins wears its inspiration on its ghoulish sleeve, basically taking Shovel Knight and adding a horror-themed window dressing on top. What’s most disappointing about Kraino is that the game actually plays pretty well, there’s just nothing unique or original about it.

Across eight lengthy stages, the titular Kraino makes his way towards a final battle with Dr. Batcula. From the overworld, you can enter and return to said stages or take out a handful of challenge stages that reward you with skulls to power up your sub-weapons, like a straight-shooting fireball or an upward-flying axe. For the most part, the overworld is devoid of life and character; similarly, the bosses you encounter offer little in terms of flavor and come off as generic. Even their attack patterns largely consist of just jumping up and down. Despite being so heavily cribbed from Yacht Club Games’ flagship title, Kraino Origins possesses none of its charm.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though: Kraino’s minute-to-minute gameplay is actually pretty enjoyable. It brings a challenging brand of platforming with fair checkpoints and secret filled levels. One of the collectibles to find in each stage adds length to your blue MP meter, which powers your sub-weapons; the other collectible functions almost like a Zelda heart container, where collecting three of them gives you another hit point. You’ll need all of these hit points, too, since the boss battle in one of the final stages is no joke.

Kraino is equipped with a trusty scythe, which can be used to slash enemies in front, block projectiles, and even pogo stick up and down on all types of foes. Even though there are only eight stages in total, each one presents unique obstacles that require all sorts of platforming acumen, from bubbles to bounce off of, rafts to traverse dangerous lava, and even a segment that fans of the Shovel Knight Specter of Torment DLC will instantly recognize. Even if the boss fights are a bit of a letdown, getting to them is generally satisfying, and the optional challenge levels provide another outlet for testing your skills.

In terms of presentation, the pixel art is attractive but most areas in the game are very dark, in keeping with the game’s horror theming. The music is lackluster and sounds pretty much the same in every stage. There are a few different screen filters to play with, but these can only be adjusted from the game’s main menu. The enemy variety is decent and their different attacks and patterns contribute nicely to the action part of the gameplay.

Given that the game can be finished or even completed in a couple hours and just how obvious it borrows from a title like Shovel Knight, it’s tough to wholeheartedly recommend Kraino Origins. Indie games are at their most endearing when they blaze an entirely new trail or offer a unique look at what we’ve seen many times before. Neither of those objectives are met in Kraino’s adventure, and the lack of any noticeable style or charm means that the game rests on its gameplay laurels. They aren’t enough, however, to elevate Kraino Origins over the majority of action-platformers on Switch.