If there is one bunch of gamers who I really feel sorry for, it is those who steadfastly refuse to play any game other than a triple A title for fear that the independent, small studio behind it is just trying to cash in on the entire video game industry by delivering a sloppy experience.
Because you see, it is these gamers who will miss out on a ton of stunning little games that just must be played.
Kick & Fennick is one such title.
A scrolling puzzle platformer, Kick & Fennick tells the story about a young mute lad, Kick and his new found companion, the robotic flying fox, Fennick. After stumbling upon a huge gun – and I mean huge – Kick will need to work his way through numerous levels, making his way past obstacles and the occasional robot guard as he attempts to reach the ‘Core’, grab Fennick a new energy core and save the day. With Fennick flying alongside like a guardian angel, as long as Kick has picked up enough ‘gear’ energy points to keep Fennick alive, then his foxy companion will keep the young child safe from danger…at least until a huge twist in the tale kicks in as the duo begin to do battle with a gargantuan end of game boss. You may have thought the gun that Kick wields is big, but you ain’t seen nothing until you see the giant robot they are running from!
Kick’s movement throughout is pretty unique and really sets it apart from anything of recent note. In fact, Kick & Fennick plays out very much like a Splosion Man crossed with Max from the Curse of Brotherhood, as aside from the basic left and right movement, he’ll find himself up in the air for the majority of the time. This comes about via the recoil action of the gun that he stumbled upon and with the recoil arc nicely shown, can easily jump and bounce his way through the stages. There is however just two shots available to be used before Kick needs to land on two feet again in order to recharge the gun. However, with a limited time slowdown effect coming into play once the recoil button is pressed, there is plenty of time for you to work out your next move.
There are 45 levels in all and each feed nicely together, with new obstacles and abilities slowly drip fed your way at a nigh on perfect rate. They are well crafted and you’ll find yourself helping Kick traverse in both the horizontal and the vertical at all times. Platformers live and die on the quality of level creation and Jaywalkers Interactive and Abstraction Games have hardly failed to deliver in this instance. Whilst you’ll find the first set of stages an absolute breeze to walk through, it doesn’t take long before you start to see new mechanics drop in in order to really liven things up. Obviously, the recoil jump is a huge part of Kick’s arsenal – indeed without it he wouldn’t get far at all – but the inclusion of switches, bounce pads and, later on in proceedings, some delightful warp portal action, ensures that Kick & Fennick never gets boring. The gun can also be used to usual effect against some of the robotic guards that frequent the areas and you’ll need to dispatch the bad guys, as well as find a hidden secret gear piece in order to 100% each stage.
It will however at times become a little frustrating and there are definitely a couple of levels that require a huge deal of patience. This isn’t so much down to the fact that Kick’s skills let him down, but more to do with the sheer randomness and short straw induced luck that is required to see things through. However, the vast majority (and I’m talking about 95% here) of the stages are an absolute delight in platforming goodness…some of the best you’ll find on Xbox One in fact.
The visuals are also pretty damn stunning in their own way and when combined with well placed audio signs, will ensure that everything about Kick & Fennick steams along at a good, smooth pace. There is the odd time when you’ll see a graphical oddity, but these are very few and far between, making no negative impact on your time in Kick’s shoes.
There is no multiplayer, but that isn’t a problem as the superb single player experience is quite easily worth the cash on its own. It would be nice to have a bigger reason to roll back through each stage once the story is complete though, as aside from a slightly frustrating scouring of every inch of every level in order to find that damn missing gear, then you’re unlikely to want to go back and play through it again. I have also had a little trouble trying to work out where my recoil will send me at all times, with this issue becoming more relevant on the ‘lighter’ coloured stages. Pinpoint accuracy isn’t completely essential but you will always need to know roughly where Kick is going to end up and that is sometimes a little tricky to establish.
But don’t let those little problems put you off of a purchase of this delightful little game. You may find that there is occasionally the odd time when you’ll need to push your luck, regroup and go again, but hey, that’s what makes a good game a great game.
Kick & Fennick should be on your Xbox One wishlist immediately, not only because it’s a brilliant platform puzzler that has gripped me hugely, not letting me stray to pastures new until the entire six hour story had been completed, but because it is quite possibly 2016’s indie ‘must-player’.