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Kite (PC) artwork

Kite (PC) review

"Kite's a twin-stick labour of love with tons of dialogue and customization... and an average shooter."

Kite is one of those indie efforts born of a tremendous amount of love; you can tell right away how much work went into fleshing out certain elements. It's a top-down twin stick shooter aesthetically reminiscent of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, with a veritable deluge of snappy dialogue and weapon upgrade statistics to drown in -- but while these extraneous details imbue the game with a definite charm, the colour is on the periphery and doesn't elevate the core experience from 'good shooter' to anything greater.

That Kite's champion is a decidedly ethnic female who looks more badass than overtly sexualized avatar, is notable. In a peaceful, post-Revolution world where the natural world has somehow meshed with advanced technology to arrive at a near-utopia, she's tasked with equipping the HORD - Human Operated Remote Device -- to put down the growing threat of rogue machines which are mysteriously defying their programming protocol. It's the old computers rising up against their human masters trope, and it's always been a favourite of mine, from System Shock on down the line.

Each level has you liberating scientists, decimating power sources and powerful gun turrets, and fighting off all manner of bots bent on your destruction. As you shoot your way through a given stage, you'll power up your rig, collect scrap towards crafting upgrades between levels, have rescued scientists talk your ears off, and eventually work your way to the exit.

Despite the emphasis on pseudoscience, upgrade point allotment and jabbering NPCs, any shooter worth its salt is about the guns. Kite allows you to dual wield or choose a two-handed brute, switch between a pair of customized loadouts, fire up a barrier, and enjoy temporary slow mo or turbo speed, the latter of which makes it seem as if our heroine is gliding about on roller skates while torching everything in sight.

While the guns themselves are a mixed bag -- some give the impression that they should be making 'pew pew' sounds and yet do heavy damage, others feel satisfying but lack stopping power -- I found the target reticle large and consistently distracting.

Similarly, the backdrop for your running and gunning is consistently uninteresting -- groves and gardens interspersed between same-looking laboratories are the order of the day. The good news is that the tunes are thumping and you won't notice the graphics much when you're coming under heavy fire from scores of bots. The constant pressure will force you to slip projectiles, bullet hell style, make prudent use of your shield, turbo and slow mo, make the right weapon selections for any given job, prioritize threats carefully, and retreat to regroup regularly.

Kite's environs are not awe-inspiring, and much of your incredibly extensive arsenal follows suit. As mentioned, there's also a heaping helping of technobabble to sift through before and even during battles which you'll either eat right up or click past as fast as you can. But Kite is challenging and can get intense, on the back of sheer bot numbers, varieties, and hit points, which is to its credit. If you like twin stick shooters, you'll want to play it, because it's a competent shooter, but all the trimmings will likely go underappreciated, especially when the passion behind them might have been currency better spent on giving us more memorable atmosphere.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (April 22, 2018)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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