If you like that old-fashioned pixel look, story-intensive games, and adventure-style action, then you should give Kandria a try. While not without flaws, Kandria shows real promise and could be the next awesome find for your Steam library.
In the game, you awaken as an uncorrupted android named Stranger in a post-apocalyptic world filled with corrupted androids and all the natural hazards you might expect in the setting. In the background, while dodging these normal problems, you must also watch out for the two opposing human factions that remain as they continue to duke it out over what’s left of the world.
Your job as the android is to find out why the world became this nightmarish landscape and possibly offer a little light in the world in the form of aid. It’s up to you whom, how, and how much you help, but bear in mind that your decisions in each of these categories affects the story. You may help or hinder your progress based on your decisions, and frankly, the decisions are not as obvious as one might think.
The first thing you should know about Kandria is that the world map is enormous and ambitious in its scope, which is not something I expected in this kind of indie game, but Shirakumo Games has clearly embraced the “go big or go home” mantra here. That much space means there’s a lot of exploration and upgrading that can be done. Expect the usual in terms of upgrades, though most of these will apply to the sword Stranger uses. There’s even a sword that turns into a fishing pole. The space also affords the developers the opportunities to design bigger and more interesting environments, that may or may not fit with Kandria’s themes.
There’s combat, for those who enjoy such things, but be aware, Kandria doesn’t mess around. While the difficulty level isn’t around say, Cursed to Golf levels, you do need to be strategic in how you engage the mobs if you want to come out of the encounter intact. However, the game’s bread-and-butter is really the platforming. As with the upgrade system, the usual abilities are present—jump, double jump, and climb—and the direction in which you should go is pretty clear. The challenge, as always, lies in getting to where you need to go. Veteran platformers may not find the game more than a pleasant challenge, but if you don’t enjoy platformers, some of the zones may feel insurmountable.
Kandria also provides a true open-world experience. While there are NPCs that can provide you with quests, there’s nothing that compels you to accept them. You can, if you choose, simply pick a direction and explore to your heart’s content. The best approach to it seems to be to do a combination of both, especially as there are a lot of fetch quests that can become tedious and repetitive.
Kandria’s ambitious scope isn’t always a good thing, however. The title does not provide checkpoints per se. It will save your progress once you’ve completed a zone, but if your character happens to die in said zone, no matter how far along you might be, you have to replay the entire zone. If you happen to fall to your doom in spikes with the end in sight, starting over that way can be extremely frustrating. As Kandria demands precision in its platforming, you can expect that exact scenario to occur more than once in your gameplay. You can also expect to spend hours walking around this massive world and more than a bit of time spent getting lost. There are a few fast travel points, but there’s still a lot of walking to do.
The combat does require tactical acumen, but in terms of actual mechanics, most of it focuses on Stranger’s sword, giving the game a certain button-mashing feel. If you’re looking for complex combinations and massive EXP boosts, Kandria will not be the game for you. Killing enemies isn’t the main EXP driver; finding items and exploring locations is. As a result, the combat can feel a bit tacked onto the game.
Allegedly, the story is the draw, and while the story actually offers decent depth, accessing it can be rendered difficult by the size of the world and the sheer amount of platforming you have to do. Visually, the game handles smoothly and looks exactly the way you’d expect it to look. Its music maintains a somber tone throughout, never trying to influence the atmosphere by trending toward upbeat or sad. Kandria’s world literally is what you make of it, and the music serves as a constant reminder of that aspect.
Kandria is an ambitious title with a lot of promising elements that don’t all quite gel together. However, the story is interesting enough to warrant a playthrough.
The open world concept offers hours of actual gameplay, even when you might not have the hours to spend. Kandria retails on Steam for $20.00. Note for parents—the NPCs can have potty mouths, so you do need to check your options before offering Kandria to children, if that’s an issue for your parenting.
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- You’ll either find Kandria entirely immersive or tedious. I don’t think there’s a middle ground.
- Kandria offers fantastic accessibility options.
- You can save at a phone box, but there is absolutely no autosave feature.
- I liked the option to take a break and just sit to look at the world.