Keatz: The Lonely Bird – Review
Follow Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Anamik Majumdar
Platform: PC

Keatz: The Lonely Bird – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Refreshing take on the genre, Background music
Bad: Storytelling
User Score
8.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)

This game is a special one, as it is the solo project of developer Anamik Majumdar. He developed some games already, but this is only his second published project on Steam, after NightmareZ. That game, similar of genre, got quite some negative feedback. However, it is fair to say that the guy is still learning, and he deserves respect for doing every aspect of game creation alone – from designing and coding to publishing. The game should be available later this month.

keatz lonely bird 5

Story

You play Keatz, a flightless bird living in a country called Heavens. This fictional country is full with all kinds of birds, and has a government in power. One day that government decides that flightless birds are rather useless, since they can’t fly and thus are in fact unusable to do any work they provide. The government quickly reach the conclusion that the flightless birds are wasting food and space, and abruptly declares that they are unwanted and should be terminated. Suddenly you’re hated by every other bird. To defend yourself, you take up arms and so starts your personal war against Heaven’s corrupted government. During the journey you travel to the dream world, a parallel world where you need to find and rescue yourself.

While the scenario could sadly be a metaphor for very real events happening all over the globe, the message gets lost in the crude way this game tries to do storytelling. Before each mission, you get a screen filled with text written in rather imperfect English, progressing the story and introducing the next location, in terms of where you are and what your goal is.

keatz lonely bird 4

The story feels exaggerated, unnecessary complicated and really one sided. It sure makes you feel lonely in-game, as the title promises, but it’s not motivational to fight for a society that is at its core against you. It could use some more positive elements and allies.

Graphics

The graphics are as good as one can expect from a solo 2D platform project. The character and the enemies are simple and a little rough around the edges, but animated and complex enough to be convincing. All enemy types are different from each-other. They can look alike, but aren’t just recycled models with a different color pattern. The basic soldiers differ in weapon and small details like sunglasses, while further on you’ll encounter whole other type of enemies and NPCs.

The environment is also varied. You’ll encounter a lot of differing embellishments, boxes and terrain. Those boxes can be an obstacle or background noise, adding to the difficulty level of the game. Some small parts of the terrain could use some more attention however, like the disappearing stones you encounter are just too simple, as they are just filled rounded rectangles. You also appear to shoot from a large brown bone instead of a gun.

keatz lonely bird 3

The many traps you encounter are also animated and pleasantly distinct. Some elements like the white retracting spikes in the dream world could use more attention, but overall the traps are convincing and well designed. Sadly the same can’t be said from explosions, they look like they came from another game, missing the game’s overall pixel-like drawing style.

Lastly the menu could use some attention, some practical user experience things are missing. For example you cannot distinguish between unlocked and locked missions in the mission selection screen.

Sound

The game comes with a pleasant soundtrack. It fits well with the graphical look and feel, and is varied enough to endure for longer play sessions. The dream world enjoys its own distorted tune.

Further has every action you take its own fitting sound, like jumping on trampolines, getting shot or being shredded by a trap. When you die you’ll hear a somewhat exaggerated splatter sound.

keatz lonely bird 2

One thing done right: weapons sounds are so impressive that you’ll probably flee the first few times, while getting hit isn’t a big deal at all. The explosions also sound right, being loud and scary and maybe spooking the player in doing fatal rash actions.

Gameplay

This is a 2D platform game like from the olden days, with some added elements. Mostly you’ll need to work your way through a map, while killing all the enemies present and collecting all the diamonds that are spread along the area. Some variations are present. You might need to use your collected money to pay to open a portal, or trigger switches with the diamonds collected earlier. In the dream world you will need to complete your goal against the clock. Of course, there are plenty of boss fights as well.

The level design is well thought out, and quite hard. You need to time your jumps based on multiple factors, while being fired on from turrets. Rushing things nearly always gets you killed quickly, as it’s even possible to encounter traps right next to your spawning point. You have a weapon to kill enemies you encounter, requiring you to collect ammunition for it. Next to shooting, you can move left or right, and jump up.

keatz lonely bird 1

Touching traps or enemies result in an instant kill. Getting hit by enemy weapons or turrets lower your health, and you can heal yourself with health packages found across the levels. Getting killed makes you lose a life, and you will have to redo the level from the beginning. Losing all your lives results in a game over, and returns you to the title screen. From here you can start anew, or play any level you successfully completed, with one life to start with. This makes the whole life system a bit unnecessary, it would make more sense if you just respawn on death.

Conclusion

It is safe to consider this game as a bit of a rough diamond. It certainly doesn’t show that it’s a one man project. The general feeling is good and the background music is really enjoyable. On the other hand stands the weird story and the few imperfections present, but those don’t stand in the way of the several hours of solid gameplay you can get out of this game. There is a lot of competition in the 2D platformer genre and this one is not one of the easiest, but the ones trained in the genre might find this odd duck a refreshing experience. We are looking forward for the next couple of titles developer Majumdar can conjure out of his hat.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Keatz: The Lonely Bird – Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sander
Sander


Always having more things to do than time to do them, I like spending several of those precious free hours playing games and rating them.

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