From the get go Kite is a game that screams old 80s/90s arcade twin stick shooter action games, with its vivid tones of colour and use of game design. Playing as Mags, you clear through levels by destroying objects of interest and freeing the scientists trapped in a future punk like setting with revolting defensive systems. Phew, if that doesn’t scream oldie goldie arcady action, I don’t what will.
Visually the intro screen screams colour vomit, and for the most part it looks alright. It could still do with some colour cohesion and slight tweaks to the enemies, as it becomes a particle diarrhea reminiscent of BattleBorn before its patches to fix that issue. The in game menus left me confused feeling rather obtuse unnecessarily. It took about twenty minutes to figure out what each component does and how the stats work. As well as how the upgrade system worked for the body limbs and its stat boosts. This also includes the UI for the upgrade screens for both the player and weapons, mechanically they’re alright, although the upgrades didn’t exactly change my gameplay and feel like small, empty numerical upgrades that feels like an issue Borderlands had with its “plethora of different weapons”.
Mechanically the game shows promise, just that it doesn’t fully relay a core direction that I could tell. The first level felt jarring as a tutorial, being rather open ended and didn’t guide the player as such. A quick note is that speaking to an NPC will lock your character’s position, meaning if an enemy decides to roll in and attack you, you have to skip the text and then deal with the threat, or in my case on several occasions a swarm of them. Not necessarily a bug, but something that added to the disjointed feel of the game. An example of this is how the game tells two different mechanical stories: one is telling me to run and gun one man army kinda dude (I think I’m a girl, but I’m still confused from the design of the player). Great, cool, sounds like a blast (pun not intended). Why’s my ammo slowly regenerating then like a stealthy/tactical game? Maybe there are upgrades to combat this, just that going through the upgrade menu is slog that making me interested in the maths of the game (because I’m nerdy like that) is hard with the UI being as unnecessarily obtuse.
This became more apparent when I encountered my first swarm of enemies that started tanking my frame rate from a solid 30-40 FPS to 10-20. I had an issue where my game screen froze and I had to force close and restart to solve the issue. The game ran fine, I just couldn’t see what was happening in game. I have started to notice a trend with this as well, so maybe this is a game dev or hardware issue but my laptop will automatically play most games I find on Steam with my intel GPU than Nvidia which I have to manually change. Not a big issue but this is where other issues rose and others fell.
Firstly, the controls and from the looks of it a large portion of the game is tied to frame rate. This isn’t bad game design/development, just that it has a lot of unwanted side effects such as stuttering movement, pseudo-slow down of game logic and inaccurate numerical calculations - aka fired projectiles does not match the cost of said fired projectiles when mouse is held done which can stack when reaching single digits. The controls whilst responsive, lack a sense of weight and there’s the odd unpolished aspect of movement here and there that catches my eye. Whether or not that was because of frame rate slowdown seemed too temperamental to call it out properly. Same goes for the odd enemy going through the walls in the office levels.
The list can go on, but these are slight imperfections that aren’t so much game breaking and aren’t noteworthy enough to give an overall rating sway from my final thoughts.
It’s a solid game, as a Early Access game it’s got a lot of promise and looking through their “What the developer has to say” section on Steam it looks like my criticisms are already being worked on such as player guidance and tutorial. Including adding controller support, a personal favourite of mine with my hatred of keyboard and mouse as well as resolution settings. I would definitely give it another gander, just that what threw me off from playing longer than one and half hours was the menu and pacing issue. Regardless, I would still recommend trying it out if you’re into twin stick shooters. Just double check that the game’s running on the right GPU.