‘Legend of Kay Anniversary’ Review

Platforms PS4/Wii U/PC/Mac
Developers Neon Studios, Kaiko   Publisher Nordic Games
Genre Action/Adventure Platformer   Platform Played On PC

After about 30 minutes – maybe one hour – of jumping around, it had been pretty clear to me that Legend of Kay is truly a game from the sixth generation. Long before titles with six-to-ten-hours campaigns and shoehorned multi-player modes – or open-world games featuring the same types of side-quests, up to a point where you’d just give up – there was a time when single-player-only games with a lengthy, linear, campaign would be all the rage. Publisher Nordic Games tries to remind us of the good, old days by giving Legend of Kay a fresh paint of coat, improved surround sound, and calling it Legend of Kay Anniversary. For the most part, this is a great remaster, although not everything has aged so well.

The basic premise of Legend of Kay describes the cats, frogs, pandas, and rabbits, all anthropomorphic creatures living in harmony on the mystical island of Yenching. Despite that, over the years, most of them have strayed away from “The Way,” which is, essentially, a way of life; kind of like Buddhism, I suppose. Because of this, the gorillas and rats – also human-like – have taken the opportunity of seizing the island, with the rats conducting strange experiments while the gorillas offer them protection.

Players take on the role of the titular Kay, a young cat whom sounds like your usual, bored 15 years old brat. After a few fetch-quests, learning the basics of combat and platforming throughout his village, the rats and gorillas decide Kay’s fighting school needs to be closed – seeing it as a potential threat to their despotism – and after Kay’s master gives up without a fight, our revolted hero leaves his home behind, trying to take justice into his hands.

Naturally, as the island is populated by multiple species of animals, Kay traverses the forests of the rabbits, the swamps of the frogs, various temples, the forbidden city of the pandas, and even another island. Although the game falls prey to a repetitive pattern about two thirds into its story, it quickly picks up its pace, heading toward a classical confrontation between good and evil. You won’t care for the rabbits’, frogs’, or pandas’ problems, along the way, though; those are just means of extending Kay’s journey.

One of Legend of Kay‘s main attractions is its platforming, which hovers in-between decent and great, depending on the camera, which is shoddy, mostly because it has a tendency to go from free to locked. But, when it works, jumping from pole to pole, gliding, or soaring through the air from one object to the next – collecting crystals for bragging points or the next health or mana upgrade – reminds me of the good old days of the Prince of Persia franchise, which were a total blast.

Another main part is the combat, which actually reminds me of Mini Ninja‘s (maybe because of the cute, little animals). The combos are easy to execute, and you can even hold down the attack button for a magical strike, which, basically, electrocutes everyone around you. More refined moves involve rolling behind enemies, throwing them in the air and then automatically slashing the poor victims, and – my favorite – jumping from enemy to enemy at the touch of a button. Besides the sword, Kay also makes use of a pair of claws, which works best against unarmored enemies, and a hammer, which – you’ve guessed it – works best against armored enemies. It’s a decent variety, and switching them on-the-fly for whatever enemy comes next provides fun challenges. Additionally, the claws and hammer are also used for opening up previously-inaccessible paths.

Add to that boar/dragon/wolf-riding, finding hidden treasures in various dungeons – Legend of Zelda-style – which include more powerful versions of your weapons, armor, riding ferries, and Legend of Kay is certain to hold your interest for a good deal of time. Thankfully, in case you’ve missed any of the upgrades, you can purchase them later on, besides the usual stuff like bombs and potions. Of course, straying away from the main path is optional, but on higher difficulty settings, you’ll want to explore every last nook and cranny, and get the best swords, claws, hammers, armor, and health and mana upgrades.

In-between gameplay, Legend of Kay‘s use of comic-book-style cut-scenes is a delightful way of advancing the plot, as opposed to using pre-rendered cut-scenes, which would only create an ugly discrepancy between them and the actual gameplay. It also helps that the comic-book images are well-drawn and make use of some decent voice-acting. Strangely, outside of those cut-scenes, the overall voice-acting and writing are downright atrocious, as I was rolling my eyes at literally every conversation. On the other hand, the soundtrack fits nicely with the game’s Asian-like theme and the graphics have received a great boost from the 2005 era.

This generation has clearly focused its attention too much on remastering older games, often using the fact that some gamers may have not played said games as an excuse. Like any other subject, there are exceptions, and Legend of Kay Anniversary is one of them. Horrible writing and voice-acting aside – in addition to that bloody camera – Nordic Games’ latest remaster is a great way of introducing newer generations to a lengthy, platforming-focused action/adventure title, featuring a fun combat system.

The Good

  • Lengthy Campaign
  • Varied Enemies and Locations
  • Challenging and Fun Combat
  • Great Platforming…

The Bad

  • … When the Camera Isn’t a Total Pain
  • Atrocious Writing and Voice-Acting (Outside Comic-Books)
  • Forgettable Story

The Score 7.5