Are you ready to play a retro styled, side scrolling platformer / hack and slash game? You are? Well have I got good news for you, as there is a new entry in this not noticeably underpopulated genre. Coming from developers RSU Horizon, Good Job Multimedia and the publishers at Blowfish Studios (they recently behind Winter Ember), Krut: The Mythic Wings will have you jumping and slashing to reach the end credits – although maybe not for long.
It’s with the narrative part of any game where I traditionally like to begin my reviews, and it is no different this time out, especially as the tale here is quite a deep one, based on a Thai CG animated film from 2016 called Krut: The Himmaphan Warriors. This in turn was apparently based on South East Asian mythology, focusing on a Garuda warrior found on the enchanted island of Himmaphan. Unsurprisingly, the game follows much the same path, with us playing the part of a badly wounded Garuda warrior (a sort of eagle type creature that walks on two legs and can use weapons, as well as fly), attempting to survive after the Rock Trolls invade our homeland and destroy almost everything. When we are rescued and awaken, we are told that the answer to our problem will be the Silver Wings of legend, which just so happen to be right there.
However, our luck isn’t that good, and in order for the wings to reach their full potential, we have to get six powers that are guarded by various guardians of multiple different biomes. Can you guess what we have to do next? Yes, the cliche is strong with this one, but the scene is set and so off we pop.
Graphically, Krut: The Mystic Wings is quite appealing with a nice hand drawn aesthetic, which is in keeping with its source material. Our Garuda looks suitably martial, in his helmet and armed with twin swords, and the rest of the enemies that you face through the levels are fairly generic, but nicely drawn and animated nonetheless. It is when we get to the bosses, which appear both at the midpoint and at the end of each level, that the creativity has been allowed to flow; some of them are very nice to look at indeed. My personal favourite is the elephant guardian of the forest, who looks very cool in his armour, and takes some putting down.
It’s all pretty good in terms of the audio as well, with sword swishes and magic attacks all sounding great, roars from the bosses helping to ramp up the tension (as well as telegraphing powerful attacks, helpfully). On the presentation front, Krut is all pretty rosy.
What about the actual combat side of things? Well, the news here is less good, as a couple of odd design choices have actually robbed Krut: The Mythic Wings of a lot of its challenge. Let me explain.
As a Garuda, we have a light slash attack, and a more powerful magic attack, mapped to the X and Y buttons respectively, as well as a dodge move that is mapped to the B button. So far, so normal, right? Well, the combat system is pretty basic, with combos of various moves possible, which the tutorial takes you through by having you perform every single combo one after the other. That gets old very quickly, believe me. Anyway, apart from a kind of super mode that can be activated by pressing both bumpers together, which sets the Silver Wings loose and turns the game into a kind of side scrolling shooter (the wings’ special attack mode replaces sword swipes with super destructive beams of energy), the pattern is set. Fight through the enemies, grab some green things that allow you to level up, and get to the boss, pop the special move, take them down, rinse and repeat. It is all fairly straightforward, to be honest, but not without its issues.
These issues are two fold: one has to do with the dodge roll move. You see, unusually for a game of this sort, there is no collision damage with the enemies, not even the bosses. So basically every fight turns into “couple of swipes, roll through the enemy, couple of swipes”. You get the picture. The bosses are made trivial by this mechanic as well. Take the example of the elephant boss I mentioned earlier. He can attack in front with his trunk, or behind with a kick. So where is the best place to stand? Right in the middle of him, where you can swipe away and he cannot touch you. It took my son about thirty seconds to figure this out, after I let him have a try just before I went out to mow the lawn. Exactly one hour and eleven minutes later he stuck his head out to say he had finished the game.
There are six stages to go at, which isn’t loads, but the combat is trivialised by this one mechanic. Another issue I had is with the upgrade skill trees. As you defeat foes, you can gather enough green things (I have no idea what they actually are) to make yourself stronger. On an average run, I’d reach the upgrade spot with around 2500 collected, and would be looking forward to spending them. However, it costs 1000 of them in order to unlock the upgrade point, so then you don’t have enough left to upgrade. This seems odd to me, and to power yourself up would require multiple runs without dying or unlocking any checkpoints to amass enough.
The platforming is also pretty hit and miss, almost literally, and you never feel quite in charge of where your Garuda is going to land after a jump. But this is a minor niggle really, compared to the fighting.
All in all, Krut: The Mythic Wings is – sadly – very middle of the road. It doesn’t do anything particularly badly, but neither does it do anything well; the result is just “some game”. There is a decent narrative to follow, and getting your wings powered up is pretty satisfying, but the trivial combat robs Krut: The Mythic Wings of a lot of fun.
Krut: The Mythic Wings is available from the Xbox Store