October 6, 2011 21 Comments
Update: Kolbold’s Quest is now 80 Microsoft Points. It makes my overall opinion of it lean slightly more positive. With three willing friends, it might be worth a purchase.
There’s nothing more boring than listening to people drone on and on about how adorable their children are. Maybe after having the little parasite live inside you for nine months you grow attached to it, but to me and most of the world it’s just a little machine that turns food into shit and vomit. Oh yes, that’s so adorable. And then they want to show you pictures and talk about how they just cut their first teeth. Meanwhile, I’m thinking “so you’re excited that your soulless shit’n'puke machine now has a permanent weapon inside it’s mouth?” It makes me thankful that I long ago learned the value of a good old-fashioned coat hanger.
Naturally my, ahem, dislike for babies should lead to me loving a game where they are killed and eaten by a monster thingie. Unfortunately, Kobold’s Quest is mired in some pretty horrible design choices that slow down its progress to a greater degree than fetal alcohol syndrome.
Kobold’s Quest is a local-only multiplayer platformer where you have to kidnap a baby and return it to the start of each level. You’re armed only with a single attack button and the ability to jump. When you throw more than one player into the mix, you can jump off of each other to reach higher platforms. In a way, it’s kind of like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, only more sterile and with less things to do.
Kobold’s Quest is flawed right from the get-go. Despite being a platformer, the focus seems to be on stealth-based gameplay. You can confront human enemies with an attack button, but their attacks are almost always faster and get the job done in one shot. Thus you’re encouraged to be a sneak, waiting until they’re walking away from you before progressing forward. As a result, the game just plain isn’t any fun. The level design is always Dullsville and even if it’s populated by three other players, having to wait for enemies to walk away before you can inch forward kind of sucks.
It also doesn’t help that the collision detection is way off the mark. Often you can stand on a completely different platform from an enemy and still get diced up when they swing their weapon at you. If the enemy was using an 80 inch sword that would embarrass Cloud Strife, that would be fine. But when it’s a little old lady brandishing a meat cleaver and you’re several feet above her on an entirely different staircase, it gets a bit annoying. You also barely jump high enough to leap over baddies, and they can easily kill you midair. There’s no radar so you can’t see where enemies are located, and some of them move very fast and wield some pretty huge swords, leading to tons of cheap deaths. Plus, there are crows. Crows are supposed to be creepy things associated with death and evilness. Why are they so hell-bent on helping the humans save their babies? Fuck if I know.
Despite the focus on multiplayer, Kobold’s Quest works better as a single player experience. With three other players, things get too crowded, it slows the pace down even further, and the whole “race to be the one who feeds the baby to the monster” feels way out-of-place given that the enemies are still around and you have stand still and wait for them to go away. Only now you can’t even attack them because you’re holding the baby. So it’s a race where you are still expected to be slow. It’s a really boneheaded design choice, but at this point I’m used to those.
When you’re by yourself, the game works better. The guys I suckered into playing this with me were quickly losing their patience with the boring levels and cheap enemies. When I was all alone, I kind of had a bit more fun. Not enough to recommend Kobold’s Quest. God no. It’s a boring, poorly designed mess of a game, but the controls work and the theme really strikes a chord with me since I’m all in favor of mandatory abortions.
I think my biggest gripe is that they charged three bucks for this game. Granted, their hands were forced because it comes in at a whopping 150MB and thus they had no choice but to charge 240MSP. But why did it cost that much? The graphics are nothing special, except for some really elaborate (and well done) cut scenes and tons of well done and often hilarious voice acting. The question is, are those features worth an extra two bucks? Not by a long shot. And it always kind of irks me when a developer spends so much time dolling up the presentation in a way that contributes nothing to the game play, when they should have spent that time focusing on improving level design or making sure the collision detection actually worked. Don’t get me wrong, somewhere in here is a great game, but SuckerFree Games took the entirely wrong approach when deciding what Kobold’s Quest would be, and as a result it’s about as appealing as Afterbirth flavored Pepsi.
240 Microsoft Points said Pepsi Afterbirth likely would still taste better than Red Bull in the making of this review.
Nate, whom I hear shaves his own butt every spring, also reviewed this over at Gear Fish.