HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewKao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC Review

Kao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC Review


Back in May 2022, we got a ray of sunshine in the form of Kao the Kangaroo. While it might not have been the most ambitious of games, it was gleeful and vibrant, and felt ripped from the golden age of 3D platformers. For a short period of time, we felt like we had a PS2 or Dreamcast pad in our hands, reaching over for a can of Tab Clear as we played. 

Fast-forward five months, and we’re getting the first gameplay DLC for the game. We didn’t need much of a push to jump, kangaroo-like, back into Kao’s superbly presented worlds. 

We hopped around the game worlds for a bit, but couldn’t find what was new. So we checked the press materials and realised our mistake. Rather than a new world, or levels within those worlds, the Oh! Well DLC hands us five more challenge wells to play, taking the total to twenty for the game. 

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The challenge wells, you might remember, were accessed from a gushing purple portal in the middle of the game hub area. They remixed the game’s enemies and obstacles to create short but, well, challenging gauntlets, mostly revolving around a single idea. How good are you at timed platforms? Can you climb at speed? If you were particularly eager, you could beat your personal bests for time or coins. 

Being brutally honest, they were never the best part of Kao the Kangaroo. The main campaign had a story, new hazards stirred into the mix every so often, collectibles and a burgeoning sense of exploration. The challenge wells merely grabbed, magpie-like, what it liked from the campaign and jigsawed them together to create something short with a touch more challenge. Aside from a post-campaign splurge to see what they entailed, we didn’t find a good reason for playing them.

So, you can probably imagine our reaction to getting five more of them. Muted, you might say. But we’re the open-minded sort, and wandered over to the purple challenge well to give them a go. It’s worth noting that, being in the main hub, anyone can play the DLC regardless of their progression through the story. 

The five challenge levels can be summarised as the moving-platform one, the thin-platform one, the slidy one, the combat one, and the rotating-platform one. We would love to say that they are free-wheelingly inventive, incorporating new stuff that you’ve never seen before. But we would be flammable-panted liars if we did. This is all instantly familiar. 

The slidy one, for example, has you traversing the same ice flumes from the main game’s icy lands. You switch from sliding into the camera to away from the camera, as balls of snow roll at you, and stalactites drop onto your noggin. We’ve done this before, and we’re not quite sure why we’re doing it again. 

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The combat arena, too, is just a sequence of gladiatorial arenas separated by climbing sections. You fight enemies from the different game worlds, in the order that you unlocked them. It feels half-hearted to say the least, and the best thing we can say about it is that it reminded us of the quality of the art design on the characters. 

There are some positives, even if those positives can also be found in the other challenge wells and main game campaign. The moving-platform one is brutal, firing sheep at you as you try to negotiate awkward jumps. If you think you’re a platforming wunderkind, give this a go and see how you stack up. The rotating-platform one also highlighted how impatient we are, swan-diving off platforms because we got tired of waiting. But, again, it was a decent challenge. 

But we’re dealing with scraps here. This is a tired remix of old glories. It’s a bit like watching Only Fools and Horses reruns at Christmas: you’ve seen them before, you know there’s better stuff out there, but there’s a strange magnetism to playing it anyway. That magnetism comes from the original, but you sense it will diminish over time.

The DLC also highlighted some of the the awkward and infuriating quirks of the challenge-well system. If you fail, the challenge well dumps you back in the hub, away from the well. So, if you want to replay a well, you have to trudge back to the portal, jump in and then find the well in the game’s UI. It’s like Kao the Kangaroo actively wants you to be playing something else. Why there isn’t a ‘Restart’ option on a given well is, frankly, bonkers. 

The challenge wells aren’t the only contents of the Oh! Well DLC, of course. There are some costumes there too, with magician’s hat, pumpkin head and unicorn horn among the better offerings. They’re all neatly Halloween-themed, but they’re purely cosmetic and you’ve likely already unlocked plenty of others over the course of the game. Your valuation of them may differ. 

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If Oh! Well was free DLC, we would, of course, have been more forgiving. But £5.49 is a reasonably significant outlay; it’s the price of your low-budget indie. We look back at the thin thirty minutes that we managed to get out of the Oh! Well DLC, and find it hard to justify the amount – as much as we love wandering around with a pumpkin head. 

Kao the Kangaroo was an underplayed gem of 2022, so we would have taken any old reason to come back to it. But the Kao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC really is ‘any old reason’: it’s five challenge arenas that feel achingly familiar, with a few costumes sprinkled on top. As a prompt to coming back to the game, it just about does the job. As DLC, it has real trouble standing on its own.

You can buy Kao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC from the Xbox Store

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