Makis Adventure PC Review
I first heard about Maki’s Adventure directly from the 20-year old solo developer himself. He had seen some of the other demos I’d played on stream and asked if we could cover his upcoming title, which itself would release about seven months later. How could I say no to such a cool-looking 2D metroidvania?! It turned out he was struggling to gain much traction marketing his labour of love and was trying to raise awareness by reaching out wherever he could, a problem that would sadly repeat when the full version became available. It’s not an easy task standing out above the sea of incredible indie games that are constantly dropping; especially so if you’re working alone. Though I’m hardly an expert in the indie dev field, I think what we have here is a classic example of a few pitfalls that far too frequently devastate inspired newcomers – mainly spending too long on your first couple of projects instead of gaining experience in other areas and improving from feedback. In product design it’s common to aim to ‘fail fast’ because if you spend too long pouring all you have into something, there’s no time to reflect and iterate on your work. It’s easy to fall in love with a project you give everything to but in the long term that ends up being detrimental to your own progress.
I felt this very sentiment oozing out of every facet of my playthrough – the extra time spent on building the unique mini-games, the surprising 3D overworld and Spyro-like flying stage, and misplaced dedication to the strange lore. So many fun ideas squeezed into a two-hour experience (three if you’re looking for 100% or if you fancy trying out the boss rush, etc). For sure that’s what makes it unique but it lacks focus and unfortunately these come at the expense of sometimes rather clunky controls, bite-size dungeons, and mediocre level design that doesn’t do enough to challenge the player and their unlocked abilities. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with it. On the contrary, I actually had a pleasant evening hack ‘n’ slashing my way through the three classically themed dungeons.
Starting off with a prison break, it’s up to Maki and his brother to stop a troublesome octopus-God from destroying their homeland. Gifted with the bloodline of an emissary of an opposing trio of shark-Gods, these cunning (though weirdly specific) shapeshifters must use their abilities to push back the forces of evil that have been unleashed on the local kingdoms, recover their power, and defeat this soon-to-be-sushi before it can go global. Leaning on the classic metroidvania formula of fighting back and forth through maze-like dungeons, opening new pathways and unlocking powers that grant entry to yet even more routes, and eventually culminating in a boss fight, Maki’s Adventure does very little to push the boundaries. The combat is as simple as can be and never evolves because all of the abilities revolve around being in shark form for the water sections scattered throughout the game, and the limited scale makes navigation of the areas too streamlined for what is supposed to feel like exploring the unknown and getting lost in a strange new world. The short length works in favour of these problems however, because it means there’s not enough time for it to ever feel repetitive, just basic.
Though the developer himself has expressed disappointment in its reception, they should still be incredibly proud of what they’ve accomplished largely by themselves. Though clearly not polished to the sheen that many other studios have the budget and expertise to achieve, this leap into the fray of game development is already much more successful than most by a large margin (it’s complete and released for starters). Even with the deeply-rooted issues found in both the gameplay and design that hold it back from its full potential, potential that I believe peeks through during some of the more interesting boss fights, the game is still entertaining and chock full of heart. Both a lesson and an inspiration for other budding creatives, Maki’s Adventure is exactly that – an adventure, and I hope to see many others follow their dreams of working on games that are special to them in just the same way in the future.