I’m always a sucker for a good platformer, especially one that has a “hook” in its gameplay, like the bionic arm in Bionic Commando that helps you get across gaps, or even the additional weapons of the Mega Man games – you practically need them in order to survive.
Now, Abstraction Games has an inspired platformer of its own with Kick & Fennick, which asks you to guide a young child with a secondary weapon to get through a number of perils. He’s unable to jump or make it on his own across large distances, but thanks to his newfound assistant, he can clear large gaps and shoot up to higher platforms with the press of a button.
Trajectory takes some getting used to in Kick & Fennick, as you’ll have to adjust the arc of your shot so that the kid lands on just the right platform. Sometimes you’ll have to do a bit of trial and error, but, thankfully, Abstraction Games does away with the “kid dying” theme (something Playdead all too easily embraces with games like Limbo and Inside) in favor of going back to where you were before you made the mistake.
Granted, this also leads to a slight problem – making the game too easy for its own good. Very rarely do you run afoul of danger within Kick & Fennick, although the game has its fair share of unique puzzles to figure out, not to mention a bevy of collectibles that help you unlock new outfits for the kid.
All the same, the game comes to an end way too soon. You can get through the five general stages – with sub-levels in each one – within a matter of hours, and there’s very little to come back to, save for any collectibles you might have missed the first time around. A Challenge arena would’ve been appreciated, and perhaps even a “create your own level” set-up to get the Kick & Fennick community – if there is one, mind you – involved.
At least the journey is charming. The graphics look very good, running on a 2.5-D plane (in a 3D world, but with 2D platforming in mind), and the animations can be pretty good, especially on the larger robot creations. The sound is all right as well, with pleasant music and sound effects.
What really works well here, however, is the gameplay. As short and sweet as Kick & Fennick is, it handles quite well, and the challenge of mastering your jumps pops up often, making the journey that much more worthwhile. I just wish, again, there was more to the overall core game.
Kick & Fennick is a fun little platformer, although one that really isn’t that substantial. You can probably blast through everything it has to offer within an afternoon’s time, with very little reason to go back. Still, it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s the treat here, and if you grew up on unique platformers, this one will certainly take you back.