Klang is a rhythm game. Now, I know that little sentence immediately put some thoughts into your head: maybe you’ve had a good experience with rhythm games (Patapon for PSP was a favorite of mine for quite some time – and I think we’ve all played some form of Guitar Hero at least once) or perhaps you find them repetitive and generally all the same. I’d love to say it belongs in the former category, because Klang‘s main features make for outstanding foundations for any game. But while Tinimations have attempted something rather unique with this platforming-meets-rhythm title, Klang simply falls short of its $15 price tag.
Firstly, and most importantly, the music is phenomenal. My expectations were completely and fully met when I launched the game for the first time, and a sigh of relief told me that Tinimations paid due attention to this crucial part of their game. In-game tracks from EDM producer bLiNd are appropriately energizing and suspenseful (although at times very hard to enjoy – more on that later) and their sonic fullness drenches the game in a feeling of excitement that’s hard to miss. In terms of visuals, the game exhibits some unique work alongside some that’s more predictable. The high-contrast level environments feature interactive blocks (platforms, walls, etc.) that are colorful but artistically lackluster. I know it’s the go-to comparison, but calling Klang‘s environmental art overly “Tron-like” feels appropriate here. On the other hand, the occasionally appearing conglomerations of beautiful statues and architecture bring several much needed “wow” moments to the game, and more than make up for the otherwise simple black-and-color style. Though the game’s narrative fails to form a recognizable plot, one of the first things you’ll notice in Klang‘s gameplay is that its characters have been meticulously designed. Engaging cinematic sequences throughout the game show the detailed creatures of this sound-driven world pushing the main character further and further into the void in colorful battles.
Klang often makes me ask myself, “What am I doing?” but not in the way of the game’s controls or mechanics. The prologue features a very understandable and well-paced tutorial, wherein the character fends off a flew flying bad guys with his sound swords (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for them but that one makes sense to me) by pressing buttons corresponding to the direction of their attacks at the right time. This is familiar, and expected, but startlingly flawed at times, as the bar that fills to indicate how close the attacks are doesn’t obviously indicate the acceptable time for the player to react. Yes, the very last bar in the series is the “sweet spot,” but I think the bar before it is also acceptable… but I know the bars before that aren’t, because pressing the button just a bit too early triggers an animation that usually won’t finish until the character has taken damage. If the “not yet” zone were colored differently, this confusion might have been avoided.
Then there’s the platforming side: between rhythm battles (and sometimes during them, which is awesome) the player must navigate through levels, encountering hazards such as timed lasers, security robots, and instant-death pits. The game is fast-paced most of the time, so this isn’t an issue very often, but when playing with the controller, the character’s movement speed doesn’t scale with the analog stick. In sections where the player has to “sneak” past instant-death field-of-view cones from guard-type robots, the fact that the character is either running or stopped tripped me up a few times. This also affects jumping, though, which is a bigger deal because most of the platforming in Klang involves carefully timing and placing jumps from floors and walls.
The highlights of Klang are when enemies begin appearing in quicker succession, because continuously landing attacks leads to combos and drastic color changes. Add in environmental dangers that force to player to move and attack simultaneously, and you’ve got some interesting and challenging scenarios. Even these experiences are far from perfect, though, as sometimes in-game events don’t line up with the music, and situations such as security robots and static pits trigger an instant game over that’s pretty discouraging. Along with taking a few seconds to reset the player, it also stops and restarts the music, both of which make repeated failure extremely difficult to work through. Some levels feel more like work than play, while others yield enjoyment that plateau at hitting the right buttons with the beat, more or less. On top of the awkward level restarts, levels are also generally short – some hovering around 20-30 seconds of play time. Seeing the victory screen this many times feels unnecessary, and interrupts what could otherwise develop a state of flow for the player.
Klang plays sort of plays like a mobile game – novel, stimulating, but chunked into overly miniature victories. Offering 2-4 hours of play, its thrilling soundtrack and glowing visual design don’t quite make up for its lack of narrative depth and mechanical versatility. For $15, if you’re looking for a casual rhythm title with a few hours of entertainment, Klang is a solid investment. But if you expect a fleshed-out, well-paced game with substance behind its mechanics, Klang might seem a little bite-sized.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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