Hi guys. I find that there’s sometimes too much negativity in reviewing, so I wanted to assure you that that’s not what I’m doing. It’s always worth noting that getting a game out of the door and relatively complete is an achievement worthy of being lauded. However, there are some things about Klang that I feel merit being discussed.
I picked up your game because it happened to occupy a particular favourite genre of mine, the rhythm action genre. Blame it on a guy who was a big part of the PS1 generation of these games, before the genre got sucked into a quagmire of peripherals and gimmicks. The genre’s been undergoing a bit of a resurgence recently too, with titles like Crypt of the Necrodancer and Dub Wars adding some fresh twists to the ‘games plus music’ formula.
My hope for you was that a fresh twist would be added here too, you promised a blend of platforming and rhythm action that seemed like a new take, something that could really work.
Let’s start with the rhythm part. Your most direct precursor in this area appears to have been One Finger Death Punch, an absolutely fantastic game that while not music-based, was very much about rhythm and timing. The idea of adding music to the concept was not uninspired. You also introduce multiple directions for an attack to come from and the idea that the closer you struck to the beat the more powerful your attack would be.
At some point between design and implementation, something got lost.
None of these are bad ideas, but at some point between design and implementation, something got lost. First of all, one of the reasons One Finger Death Punch worked was that it was extremely simple. There were only two directions for things to come from, which allowed them to build such complex patterns, but in your game there are eight. This adds inherent complexity to an already complex system and it just doesn’t feel like you’ve planned out how the enemies are placed and timed. Add in the fact that the timing of your strikes defines the damage and the feedback on how effective you are is not particularly intuitive and your rhythm system is just not fun to play.
None of this combines well with platforming. When the enemies appear, there is basically no connection between the combat and the rest of the game. The enemies just form a ring around you then move with you in perfect synchronicity. And since your combat mechanic feels so complicated, why would you not stop? The kind of aesthetic and type of platformer you’re clearly going for is about flow and speed. You’re bouncing off walls, sprinting back and forth, and every time a monster appears, you stop.
The main reason you make a game like this is very simple: kinesthetic appeal. A rhythm action game, almost more than any other type of game must be fun to interact with at a very core level. You are using music to enhance the experience of interacting with the game. So the last thing you should be trying to do is make that harder.
Here’s what you should do for Klang 2. First off, make it an endless runner. Your progress through the level should be connected to your progress through the song. Putting the jump on your left trigger is a solid idea though. Put a crouch, a spin, a slide on the other shoulder buttons. Build your platforming sections out of those. Now you can focus entirely on your rhythm section. Since the stopping problem is dealt with, just focus on making this work as well as you can. Test it, over and over, because the core of a good idea is in there.
Like I said, I don’t tell you this to be negative. I don’t want to be that guy. I really want to be the guy telling people Klang 2 is the absolute business. Thanks for coming down.