Legend of Kay Anniversary: review

Legend of Kay Anniversary is a remastered version of the PS2 original release. It’s a game that seems to have some okay reviews from back in the day, so it got a remake – but it’s awful. Perhaps that’s a little harsh, maybe ‘of its time’ is a better way of describing it, as advances in game design have left this feeling tedious, repetitive and unbearable to listen to. Some people will still like it but it’ll just be a difficult slog from start to finish for most.

Legend of Kay looks like an interesting game. We gave it time in the beginning thinking it could get better, but it just doesn’t unfortunately. It’s an action adventure game and for a fair portion of it you can more or less hack and slash your way through as it doesn’t really ramp up the difficulty until around halfway through. Once you get to that point you can then repeat the same few moves over and over to cut through swathes of enemies as quickly as possible.

Admittedly the early levels are where there’s still some colour to the world and combat because the pressure isn’t on due to it being easier. Enemies don’t have much, if any, armour to remove and don’t come at you wave after wave; it made it a little boring at times but not completely unpleasant. Once it get to the point that enemies throw bombs at you, all have armour and huge range on attacks that damage and knock you down, which just gets obnoxious and tiresome. You could argue that it is meant to be a challenge but instead it’s needlessly awkward for normal difficulty and it is far outclassed by other games in terms of challenge, and interesting and fun combat.

There are three weapons in total each with three upgrades, which are staggered across the levels. Unfortunately the weapons take too long to be introduced, and the sword is upgraded to full before you even get a chance to get the hammer. It’s made worse by the claws being so weak that the sword outclasses it for the entirety of the game, and the hammer does so much damage late game that it’s the most efficient way to kill everything, including the bosses.

You could fall back on the platforming sections and the small amount of exploration in the levels, but it hardly justifies the frequent fights you have still have to partake in. There is an instance in the swamp where you have to jump between poles that stick out of the quicksand while avoiding hornets that sting you and knock you to the ground, which is infuriating as they are an invincible swarm that flies directly at you and you have little defence against it.

You can also buy a potion that allows you to see and go through “demon portals” for a short amount of time. They offer fairly good rewards and difficult enemy encounters – but as the potions only work for a limited time and cost money, you kind of have to know where the portal is before getting any of these potions, which is a weird and awkward way of handling these bonus areas.

The game is fully voiced which, for its time, was quite an achievement but it’s also some of the worst voice acting we’ve come across that isn’t bad enough to be remotely funny. It’s made even worse by how atrocious some of the writing is – just listen to that video. Some games can pull off having irrelevant dialogue every now and then to give flavour to the characters and the world they inhabit. This is just awful to a degree where we can only assume it’s written by a child or someone who writes like a child that’s awful at writing.

It’s not all terrible though, we know some people love the game and while it perplexes us, we still have some good things to say. The remastering is a valiant effort; it’s even gotten a patch to introduce new graphical options on the PC. It looks pretty good, the art direction on the whole was good when it was released and the enhancements do look really nice. Most of the levels look interesting and vibrant but they can get a little stale when you start having to run back and forth through a handful of areas over and over.

The little touches are the best things in the game by far; the animations for the various moves are generally quite interesting and visually spectacular – if a little impractical at times. Kay also has little things like double jumping and rolling out into a crane stance as he descends. Those things are brilliant, it’s what makes the game look appealing to play – regardless of how deceptive that may be.

Legend of Kay is a good remastering of a game that is questionable at best. It sure looks nice now though, helped in some part to being pretty good looking when it released; but it’s still a tedious slog through an endless barrage of awful dialogue and even more awful voice acting.

critical score 3

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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