GerbilMechs 086 : Through the Roof

13Apr04 (Monthenor): Bodie, it is a prison. They can't make it too easy to get out.

Kya: Dark Lineage: Kya was a nice surprise. I hadn't heard anything but the most average reviews all over the Net. The game came and went last November with nary a peep. It was waaaay down in the B list section of my GameFly queue, but the annual spring drought of new games eventually brought it to the top.

The game is visually and aurally average, that much is certain. I believe it's a PS2 exclusive (and am too lazy to go research it), but it definitely doesn't push the hardware as much as Jak 2 or Rachet and Clank 2. If that's enough to turn you off of a game, get the hell off my site. Kya's character design is the only memorable part of the visuals. Her flapping hair and bell-bottom jeans highlight the dependence on wind powers throughout.

What sets Kya apart from the rest (in a positive sense) is the combat engine. Dispatching minor animal baddies is done through Kya's hair clip/boomerang weapon. When approaching the larger Wolfen foes, Kya shifts into a street fighting stance. You then use punches, kicks, grapples, and counter-blocks to whittle down their life. I've been waiting a long time for a game like this to come out. These battles, especially against multiple Wolfen, are the most thrilling part of the game.

The plot is standard save-the-furry-villager fare, the ending is nothing to yell about, and the unlockable extras are not even worth the playtime. This game is all about the sneaking and the fighting, both of which are competently executed.

What sets Kya apart from the rest (in a negative sense) are the horrid and frequent bugs. Sounds don't play. Bullets and items disappear from certain angles. Enemies, Kya, items, and the camera clip through seemingly solid objects at random -- and usually to your detriment. In the "thrilling lava escape" cliche level, there are stalactites that fall from the ceiling and provide convenient steps to escape. On my twentieth attempt at the level, I decided I'd see what happened when I got crushed by one of them. The answer: absolutely nothing. The giant tooth-looking piece of rock fell on top of my head and proceeded right into the ground, leaving me looking at four white walls. Having failed in my suicide attempt, I walked right through one of the walls and jumped on to top of the rock to make my escape. Things like this happen far too often to ignore, and only one (a missing elevator) impaired the game for any length of time (a half hour I'll never get back).

Overall, Kya is an interesting platform romp, suitable for a weekend or two of gaming.