Soundtracks based on electronic beats led much of the BIG Festival’s Best Sound nominees. Although games like Thumper and Inside my Radio were great, it was Klang, from studio Tinimation, that was most entertaining to me. Its visuals resemble a modern Mega Man game, with gameplay that showcases how a platform action game can work pretty well within the rhythm genre.
I started my adventure through the 2D world based on modern platforms by encountering blue lights and a landscape filled with giant speakers and subwoofers playing a song which featured a strong bass. As Klang, a tuneblade-wielding elite rave warrior, I had to run through platforms, perform wall jumps, and defeat monsters to free him from the hands of the Soundlord.
The story only seems to be there just as a premise to give some meaning to the world itself, though. Everything but the movement is rhythm-based, as synth beats play nonstop in the background and the world is infested with evil creatures. It seems reasonable to conclude this is the work of the evil Soundlord, though nothing was explicitly explained during the demo, making it clear that narrative is not the game’s focus.
The star of the show, instead, is the gameplay. Every time a monster appears during a stage, it triggers the rhythm-based combat mechanics. An arc facing the enemy is shown near the character, and when the monster attacks, the player has to counter-attack by matching the beat correctly. There’s no way to hit any opponent without a counter-attack. As an enemy gets closer, the arc begins to fill with a different color; when the gauge is nearly filled, that is when players must input the correct button press.
On the keyboard, the arrow keys are used for these counter-attacks, with WASD for walking around and jumping. I saw myself having to deal with three monster at once up front, and the game slowly increases the attack frequency and music speed as the stages progress. The soundtrack, of course, is the second big star, featuring original music with strong beats to get players in an energetic mood, matching the game’s pace.
As I got used to the gameplay, Klang introduced me to timed wall jumps, dangerous lasers coming out of platforms, and the ultimate challenge, a scenario where there were more than 100 diagonal fast-paced attacks in a row. I couldn’t believe when I reached a streak higher than 100 hits and noticed that these keyboard inputs were really working for such a complex game. It seemed that there wasn’t an “input wall” that made the game best for controllers or keyboards, which makes it far more accessible to the general audience.
Klang was surely the most solid game I played in the whole festival. Mixing so many game genres generally comes out as a mess, but it’s clear how the developers are really paying attention to each detail to make it the perfect platformer action-combat-rhythm-based game. Klang was a nominee for the Best Gameplay and Best Sound categories, and is set to be released in Autumn 2015 for PC, Mac, and Linux through Steam, where it is already approved through Greenlight. More information can be found on the game’s Facebook page.
Don’t forget to check out our other BIG Festival Previews!