Kick & Fennick review (PS4)

Kick & Fennick jumps free from its Vita exclusivity and lands on the PS4. Here is our review of the big screen version of this indie platformer.

Every now and then, a game passes us by that makes us think “that actually looks pretty neat”. Kick & Fennick is such a title, because it never popped up on our radar until after its original release for the Vita when we saw a few gameplay videos. Although we’ve seen quite a few decent platformers over the past few years, Vita owners haven’t been spoiled for choice. Now that Kick & Fennick has made it to the PS4, we’re getting a second chance at reviewing this former Vita exclusive by Dutch developer Jaywalkers Interactive.

Not surprisingly, Kick & Fennick features a duo of stars – much like Ratchet & Clank or Jak & Daxter. Unlike those games, however, the action in Kick & Fennick firmly focuses on just one of these characters: a young boy named Kick. When Kick wakes up from cryosleep, he finds himself in a futurist yet almost abandoned city. Before too long, he finds two things that shape the rest of his adventure: his robot pal Fennick and an energy/gravity rifle. Kick finds out that Fennick will need a new battery, and thus the pair sets out to find one – armed with an energy rifle.

KF_Screenshot_3

This energy rifle isn’t just meant for you to take down enemies that you find here and there, it’s also meant as a propulsion device. Instead of jumping around like you would in other platform games, your primary way to move around in Kick & Fennick – aside from walking – is to propel yourself using the energy rifle. It’s a fairly simple principle: shoot one way to propel yourself backwards using the gun’s recoil, and use a second round of ammo mid-air as an optional double-jump of sorts. Of course a mechanic like this requires some precise aiming at times, so it’s good to note that Jaywalkers has implemented a slow motion mechanic that activates automatically when you’re aiming and disables once the action starts moving again.

Aside from enemies, you’ll also run into a ton of obstacles that require good timing and aim if you are to get past them. For this you’ll obviously need your energy gun, and the mechanic doesn’t overstay its welcome during the four to five hour campaign because subtle changes keep being introduced to keep things somewhat fresh throughout.

KF_Screenshot_2

Where Kick & Fennick falls a bit short of other platformers is in terms of its production values. While the game looks the part, its environments aren’t as diverse as you might hope. There also isn’t too much character and story development going on, since the entire game revolves around a quest to find Fennick a replacement part.

The actual platforming is fun, and done in a way that’s unique enough to stay interesting. The game would have benefited greatly from a more fleshed out background story and more diversity in its environments, but perhaps we’ll see that in Jaywalkers’ next game. It’s priced at almost twice the price of the Vita version, which hurts the game’s score a little – but if you can get it at a price point close to that of the Vita version then this is definitely worth picking up.

Score: 6.8/10

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