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Kandria Review: Hope In Pixels

EDITORS' RATING : 7 / 10
Pros
  • Massive world to be uncovered and explored
  • Ability to play at your own pace
  • Surprisingly deep narrative arc
Cons
  • Missions can be a slog
  • Platforming mechanics may be frustrating for some

Developed and published by indie game developer Shirakumo Games, "Kandria" is an ambitious indie title that has been drawing attention from fans of pixelated graphics and those who enjoy the exploration component of open-world games. "Kandria's" gameplay is akin to 2D platformers such as "Celeste" and "Treasures of the Aegean," while blending the unique features of deep exploration, old-world lore discovery, and combat into a nostalgic, mysterious world that is just waiting to be uncovered.

As the main protagonist, you traverse the vast, post-"calamity"-stricken land meeting a wide array of characters, all while discovering forgotten secrets and helping those in need. "Kandria" features a vibrant, yet hauntingly beautiful pixel art style that will delight anyone with an appreciation for classic gaming visuals. The game focuses on exploration, hack-n'-slash combat, and scavenging while providing players with an interesting story to follow as they progress through their journey.

The game also features some unique elements such as a dynamic day/night cycle and weather patterns that can affect the way you play. Additionally, there are various NPCs who you can interact with in order to gain valuable items or learn more about the story. As far as combat goes, it's fast-paced and tactical; you'll need to be careful when engaging enemies if you want to survive.

Uncovering the mysteries

The game tells a surprisingly deep story set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is struggling to survive against both natural phenomena and corrupted Androids — not to mention the two remaining factions that continue to battle it out in a war-torn world. Your goal — as a newly rebooted Android — is to explore the dangerous world in search of the truth behind its current state, helping out wherever you can (should you choose to do so). Your decisions along the way impact the story, so aiding other characters may help or hinder you as you progress. As you explore each new area, you'll uncover secrets about your character's history as well as clues about the mysterious forces threatening humanity's existence.

Throughout your adventure, you'll be able to level up your character by collecting items, unlocking new cosmetics, and upgrading your weapon — a sword that does some serious damage (and turns into a fishing pole). This adds another layer of depth to the game and provides plenty of incentive for players who want to explore the world of "Kandria" quickly.

Rewarding exploration

"Kandria's" open world encourages players to explore its depths — which sits at an astonishing 2,100 x 1,200 meters of explorable space! Simply put: "Kandria's" map is ambitiously enormous.

There are different regions that make up the game's world — ranging in everything from abandoned city sewers to lava-filled caverns — each with its own unique layout, challenges, and enemies. These regions are filled with various platforming challenges — from navigating treacherous cliffs to navigating hidden passageways — that reward curious explorers. Plus, there are dozens of different types of enemies scattered throughout these areas that must be defeated in order to unlock new secrets and progress further in the game.

The platforming mechanics in "Kandria" are simple yet challenging. You'll need to jump, double-jump, and wall-climb in order to make your way through each area. There is a bit of a masocore element to the gameplay in that if you make a mistake (say, from darting head-on into some deadly spikes), there are no real checkpoints. Instead, you must start the area from the beginning when you fail. This can be quite punishing — especially for those who don't like to repeat sections multiple times — but it keeps the game engaging and encourages players to strategize their way through each area.

Playing at your own pace

"Kandria's" best offering is that it provides something for everyone — whether they want an action-packed adventure or a more peaceful, exploratory experience. Those looking for action and excitement can embark on challenging missions given to them by the NPCs littered throughout the world. Sometimes, the "search and fetch"-style missions can become a bit redundant, but they do force you to explore different areas of the map as you progress the story forward.

Meanwhile, those seeking a quieter, more "lone-wolf" type of experience can set off and explore the world on their own, then make their way back to any characters who may progress the storyline. There's really no limit to what you can do in the game's non-linear and open design, so go ahead and explore to your heart's content. Whether you're taking on a mission or simply admiring the view, "Kandria" is sure to deliver an enjoyable experience.

Overall, "Kandria" is a great indie title that should appeal to fans of pixel art graphics and classic action platforming games alike. Its day/night cycles add an extra layer of complexity while its storyline and haunting atmosphere and soundtrack provide plenty of motivation for players who are looking for something deeper than just hack 'n' slash gameplay. With its vibrant visuals, compelling narrative arc, and autonomy for self-exploration, "Kandria" is well worth exploring.

A Steam review code was provided to SVG for this review. "Kandria" will launch on January 11, 2022, for PC via Steam.