Review: Kero Blaster (PS4).
Kero Blaster feels like another turkey with simple 2D graphics and incredibly cliche mechanics. With time, however, we begin to notice that this production hides secrets from us that are asking for more research.
Kero Blaster, released in 2014 in the PC version, it was converted to hardware from Sony. This production is an uncomplicated 2D platformer, in which, as a frog, move forward, killing everything that stands in our way. We jump with one button, shoot with the other, and the whole thing is kept in the style of eight-bit games. At this point, you can probably hear “What a crap!” spoken by people in advance crossing out these “smaller” productions. Such a statement would make sense, considering the simplicity of the game, however, there is one more element that binds the whole thing together that makes us want to continue playing – the story.
The production from Pixel studio is one of those games in which everything is gradually served on a tray and the threads seem to fit together, but at the same time we have an overwhelming impression that something is wrong here. Our boss entrusts us with new tasks consisting in cleaning up new sectors. The player’s associates, i.e. the cat and … the slime, teleport us to the place, and we start the “cleansing” – we go through all the stages, get to the boss fight and return home. However, after the first level, questions appeared in my head – why is each opponent’s hit shown as “-x”? Is it the amount of life deducted by us, or maybe there are negative points counted somewhere and I should rather try to avoid confrontation? Why is the company our frog works for is called Cat & Frog and the cat boss only gives orders and we are a dirty farmhand? After returning to the office, we start to notice that something bad is slowly happening with the boss, and mysterious creatures appear in our world. The question chases the question, and that was only the first level. Interestingly – we won’t find all the answers at the end of the game – some threads remain open, leaving us alone with our thoughts and theories.
Location designs are made in a thoughtful way. The more we repeat a stage, the more we start to see ways to safely complete it. Despite the fact that the graphics in Kero Blaster it is extremely old school, the same has not been done with physics. It’s a bit fun to watch our pixelated character slowly sink into the mud or splash the surroundings while running through the water, but it has its own charm. Our hero has several types of weapons, the proper selection of which makes it much easier to complete. It is very important to prepare for the fight so that you can defeat the enemy as quickly as possible, because sometimes they can call for reinforcements. Each of the weapons behaves differently and so, for example, the basic “rifle” shoots very quickly, but only in a small area, the green blaster can hit the enemies standing above us, and the flamethrower creates a flame that circulates around us. In addition, our equipment can be slightly improved, increasing the field of fire of the weapon or the speed of its operation.
There are hidden chests containing coins on each board. We can get to some of them without any problems, but we will also come across those to which access is not so obvious. We will have to play with a sense of the right moment to jump, or carefully examine the board to spot cleverly hidden passages. We will exchange the collected coins for equipment upgrades or we will buy one of the items facilitating the passage of the game. We can choose, for example, recovery or “jar of life”, automatically replenishing our entire health in the event of death. And death happens often here. If all lives are lost, we start the entire level from the beginning. However, it is not frustrating, because once we get to know the layout of the location and learn how to choose the right weapons, we can easily go back to the point where we were stuck earlier.
It would seem that in Kero Blaster all the elements were made correctly and we got a game where we will have a nice 4-5 hours. Unfortunately, it is not so rosy, because two elements that strongly affect the reception of the game have been broken. The first is the shooting mechanics. Usually, in this type of productions, the left knob is responsible for the character’s movement, and the right knob for shooting. Here, the left analog is responsible for walking, but also for the direction of the shot. So, when we want to turn quickly, for example, because an enemy is approaching our backs, we have to move slightly towards him, which may cause loss of health. There is also no option to run away and shoot backwards. This is frustrating and seems to have been forced to make the game harder and longer. Many boss fights would be much easier if it weren’t for the especially complicated mechanics. The second element that starts to get on the nerves with time is sound. The music styled on the era of the old games does not seem to cause any problems at first, however listening to it one by one it becomes frustrating. Some tones are definitely louder and, instead of a pleasant melody, begins a festival of squeaks, scrapes and gurgles. You can quickly turn on your own Spotify playlist.
Kero Blaster is a game with an extremely intriguing storyline and it is the driving force behind the entire production. Unfortunately, not all elements were made as they should be, which means that we will constantly experience mixed feelings. On the one hand, we are eager to play the game to discover something new, and on the other hand – the tiring controls are effectively discouraging. A moment later, we will be happy to find the way to the treasure, and then we will hear terrible squeaking sounds in our ears. Extremely uneven production.