Ten years after its initial release, the PlayStation 2 game Legend of Kay has been updated, rereleased and thrown into the wild amongst the ever-growing pile of HD remasters out on the market today. The Anniversary Edition’s upgraded graphics look relatively good especially for a PS2 game, the gameplay is filled with rewarding combat and challenging puzzles although sadly some aspects of the original couldn’t be updated and polished. Leaving the game stuck with the terrible writing, awful voice-acting and mediocre plot that the original had.
You take control of Kay, a young cat that once lived in a peaceful land shared between cats, hares, frogs and pandas. After the evil masterminds Minister Shun of the Gorillas and Alchemist Tak of the Rats invade his land and use mind control devices to control innocent animals, Kay will need to become a fierce warrior in order to stand up for his land. With the help of his alcoholic master and a childhood friend, Kay will take himself deep into enemy territory to save his people and take down these enemy forces. The journey that Kay will embark on is told through traditional in-game cutscenes as well comic book style visuals.
Kay’s generic tale of one hero standing up against the odds to save the innocent people is just as cliché here as it always has been. The plot felt unimportant and more like a means to an end than anything else. To top off the already lackluster story is the awful writing, every intention was to have me laughing and on the very rare occasion I did but sadly it had me cringing more often than not. Partnering the weak jokes and dialogue was the equally as terrible voice acting. It often came across as quite disjointed and phoned in, especially with our friendly feline hero Kay.
Kay’s battle to save his people will take him to many different colorful locations; Kay will make his way through mystic forests, dive deep into ancient dungeons and paddle through dark swamps. Throughout your adventure you will fight a whole slew of nasty animals from mace wielding gorillas, barraging bears and sai swinging ninja turtles. Surprisingly the visuals of this upgraded version hold up quite nicely for a PS2 game and despite the character animations feeling a little dated the cartoon like character models look at home on the current gen consoles.
Legend of Kay’s gameplay is where it is at its strongest. Kay uses claws, swords and hammers for light, medium and strong attacks respectively. Pairing this with Kay’s ability to channel magic with his Chi, the arsenal at your disposal will make mowing down waves of enemies an absolute pleasure. There are a number of potions and bombs that can be used during battles as well, from health, magic and berserk potions that buff you during battle to explosive, hornet and flash bombs that help you take down your enemies.
Choosing what weapons and items to use during battle is critical when trying to get the upper hand during combat. Whether that be using the strong attacks of the hammer to rip off an enemy’s armor or the quick attacking claws to combo and dash between smaller targets. What weapons you use usually depends on what enemies you are up against and pairing your abilities, items and attacks together can make for some very satisfying gameplay.
Another aspect where Kay shines is in its challenging puzzles and great level design. Littered throughout the 20 or so chapters is a litany of collectibles to be found. Everything from health, magic and weapon upgrades as well imprisoned friendly allies that need your help in getting free. The best of Kay’s puzzles can be found when you are on the hunt for these collectibles. Throughout the entire game the puzzles constantly feel fresh by implementing new game mechanics around each corner that will challenge you as you try to get to that treasured upgrade that you are so desperately after.
To break up the puzzle platforming and action sequences of Legend of Kay there are a number of enjoyable mini games in the form of races. Kay will ride a boar, a dragon and a wolf to traverse between environments and a race against a ticking clock, hitting checkpoints every so often to give yourself that desired extra few seconds to keep your race alive.
Legend of Kay certainly is an odd choice for a HD remaster and certainly one that I wasn’t suspecting. Somehow the upgraded graphics hold up quite well for a PS2 game and the challenging puzzles, smooth gameplay and ton of collectibles made my 20 chapters with Kay an entertaining experience. It is the lackluster story, dated animations, cringe worthy voice acting and horrible writing where Legend of Kay falls down. Despite being one of the stranger remasters out there today, the strong gameplay of Kay make this ten-year anniversary edition an enjoyable playthrough.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Legend of Kay Anniversary originally developed by Neon Studios later published by Nordic Games
- Challenging puzzles
- Rewarding combat
- Looks good for PS2 game
- Bad writing
- Cringe-worthy voice acting
- Mediocre story