Kivi’s Underworld PC Review
I’ve played an assortment of RPGs, ranging from first person, to standard hack and slash, but I never though when I was asked to review a game called Kivi’s Underworld, that I would be glancing upon a genre changing game. No longer shall we lethargically move our mice around, wasting away as our bodies turn to mush in our computer room chairs, one hurried click away from a cardiac related episode. Welcome to the future, inspired by the latest Wii fitness gimmick, “The Role Point and Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click game”. Feel your finger gain in bulk overnight, the same way that advert in your inbox promises will happen to your manhood.
That was a long winded and relatively pointless intro, but it served three important purposes; to point out that I have researched lengthening my disappointing wanger, to increase the word count on this review, and to point out that all you do in this game is click. It shouldn’t be too much of a shock to hear that you will be clicking a lot on a PC, especially on a Hack and Slash game, but other games within the same genre go to lengths to disguise that fact, or at least mix things up enough to keep you suitably distracted or interested by other aspects. Kivi’s Underworld does nothing but remind you from moment to moment, that you are a geek, sat at a computer, clicking a mouse to make lots of nasty things go away. It’s back to basics in the most beautiful way possible.
I won’t bore you with the story, because if you try and follow it yourself you will fall victim to a fork to the forehead, powered by your own hand… needless to say, it’s worth avoiding.
The game consists of relatively simple concepts: quests, characters, enemies, traps, power-ups, loot and colored key based Items. Each quest you enter has a different completion requirement, be it killing the correct amount of enemies, gathering certain items, or rescuing an unlockable playable character. During your quests you will be confronted with waves of enemies, click after click they will fall before you, but sometimes their numbers will be too much for you, and you need a little something special to help you out. Whereas I am sure the game refers to them as spells, they’re simply single shot power-ups that grant your character a temporary bonus to speed, strength, protection, loot multiplier etc. Only three can be held at anyone one time, and to use one is to cancel out another, as such the key to victory here is to use them strategically and sparingly, you never know what’s in the next room… although getting into that room is another problem entirely. Coloured keys and levers are dotted throughout the levels, and you guessed it, they open the corresponding coloured door, childish maybe, but it’s this kind of joyful back to basics that this game emanates from every steaming zombie corpse. (You will get that if you play it, you still won’t laugh, but you will get it). For every enemy you kill, and every item you loot, you add to your overall guild score; either unlocking new characters after you have achieved a certain figure, or awarding you a quest rating of bronze, silver or gold, granting you skill points to raise the base stats that are the foundation for every member of your guild.
As you proceed on your quests, along with the power-up buffs, and unique unlockable character skills, you are granted temporary bonuses to your offense and defense. Temporary in the sense that they are not permanent, but they will last for the remainder of the quest. These incentives to explore see that you will not leave any stone unturned, or any barrel unsmashed in the hopes of gaining an upgrade, loot or buff that could make your life a lot easier in the long run. Esepcially when traps are everywhere, poison, lightning and fire comes flying at you from every hole in the wall/ground, you will have to keep your wits about you, and use your character’s three lives to minimize the damage of potential defeat.
As is the way with simple concepts and clever pacing, you can slowly but surely throttle up on established gameplay elements, and turn a simple game into one of the most complicated endeavors you and your trusty mouse companion will ever embark on together. Do you save your power-ups for the next fight? Do you use this character over another. Should I look for upgrades before I move on? These are all questions you will find yourself asking, surrounded by enemies, while scrounging around looking for the correctly coloured key. Hectic Bliss.
However, Kivi’s Underworld, despite all of my preaching probably isn’t worthy of a recommendation. Perhaps I am just jaded by the route titles like Dungeon Siege have taken, and any step back to classic Hack and Slash sends me on a nostalgic nerd spiral, where I am all too happy to be playing the kind of game I grew up with.
Most people will see a game that requires little commitment and input on their part and react negatively. I see a game that allows me to listen to an album I have been meaning to get into, while having a bit of harmless but forgettable fun. I’m sure the small development team will be insulted by my comparisons, and they will say that they have put in place several systems to assure that this game is always fun, completely up to date and a step in the right direction for Hack and Slash RPG’s. But for me, the most interesting steps this game takes are steps backwards.