Imagine with me for a moment all of the life-altering advancements technology has provided for us. At this very moment, you are staring at a display illuminated by electrically charged liquid crystals reading words typed on an amalgamation of metals and plastics, transmitted through the air to another device to capture them, then transmitted to you. This action in itself is a marvel, but it does not even touch the advancements in artificial intelligence, medicine, science, nuclear physics, and more happening every day. Devices are programmed to predict, assist, and to (potentially) save us from naturally occurring dangers to our survival as well as from dangers we might present to ourselves. Into this crazy, baffling world of technology comes KUNAI, a quirky 2D Metroidvania adventure all about a tablet programmed to save the world. This is our review of KUNAI for the Nintendo Switch.
Released for both Nintendo Switch and Windows PC via Steam, KUNAI sends players into a world ravaged by machines. To save the world from an artificial intelligence named Lemonkus has nearly wiped out humanity under the notion that humans themselves are the greatest threat to the world. With overwhelming control over the world’s technology, the AI seeks a hard reset for all of creation.
However, not everyone (or everything) sees and processes things that way it does. A small band of rebel robots compiled a different solution to the world’s problems. But in order to save the world, including humanity, a hero was needed… a hero with a tablet for a head, appropriately named Tabby.
Equipped with an energy-draining katana and titular kunai (throwing daggers with lines attached), Tabby embarks on an adventure through the ruins of the earth in order to save it. From forests to factories, deserts to mountain vistas, you will traverse the landscape, acquiring new powers and equipment to take the fight to Lemonkus and terminate its plans.
This story itself plays out in some pretty quirky ways, presenting a fun, light-hearted take on dystopia that does not take itself too seriously. There are several moments throughout the experience that play on popular memes during dialogue as well as some meta-level gameplay moments that add humor and depth to a game about a heroic tablet. It neither gets in the way of itself by trying to make a point, nor does it leave you guessing about what is going on in the greater context of KUNAI.
As far as the gameplay goes, just about every bit of KUNAI harkens back to the Metroidvania classics of old. Your access to areas is very limited to begin with, but after acquiring items and upgrades, more regions become available to you. While there are some classic abilities like double-jump or air dash abilities, there are some fresh ideas rocket jumping via actual rocket launcher and sub-machine guns hovering. These abilities aren’t limited to mobility, while each sub weapon provides new ways to traverse the landscape, they are also powerful tools for clearing out enemy assailants. Items can be upgraded along the way to provide new options for using the same items.
There is a slight downside to the way some of these upgrade work. With the some of the upgrades to sub weapons, you need to charge the attack before using it. This means that you will need to fire the weapon before it will allow you to charge it. While this is not a terrible in convenience for most of the weapons since ammo recharges over time, it does mean a long delay for the rocket launcher to charge as the weapon with not charge when unloaded. It is not game breaking, per say, but it does reduce its viability for very specific circumstances.
Aesthetically, KUNAI continues to deliver on a nostalgic level. The chiptune soundtrack captures the an iconic era with sound effects to match. The monochromatic backgrounds contrast with Tabby’s blue robes and the red energy bolts and the markings on the followers of Lemonkus.
All of this considered, KUNAI is a fantastic experience that delivers hours of engaging gameplay, solid controls, and a classic aesthetic with some good laughs along the way.
KUNAI is available on both Nintendo Switch and Windows PC via Steam for $16.99.
With solid controls, a 16-bit aesthetic, and hours of gameplay, KUNAI is a delightful Metroidvania adventure that fires on all cylinders to provide a classic experience with some fresh ideas. The pace and scaling of the gameplay is nearly perfect within a world that feels cohesive, even in all of its quirkiness. Join Tabby – a robotic, tablet-headed ninja – as it swings around a dystopian future, fighting against a rampant A.I. to save the world along with what remnant of humanity remains. Collect weapons, items, and hats along the adventure through a unique world filled with humor, secrets, and dangers alike.
Note: Our copy of KUNAI was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Super Metroid, Bionic Commando, Gato Roboto