“What are you, 12?” “Why yes, I am, and I have a magic sword and can move in a single dash fashion and slice you into pieces!” That’s what I imagine Keen player character Kim has to deal with in school on the daily. The initial concept Keen conveys upon first look hardly does the game justice. There’s a lot to love about this action puzzler and a good thing too, because the developers are currently running an Indiegogo Campaign to fund the development. There’s a finely-proportioned alpha available that gives a solid introduction to the story and gameplay, and even with the small handful of levels available, there’s plenty to get out of it. Each stage has three bonus challenges that can be completed aside from simply reaching the finish line on each one. In order to achieve success, the player will need to employ some puzzle solving to their memory of the traversed map. The challenge difficulty of the alpha isn’t extreme, and can be completed with a little bit of thought and execution. After moving through the tutorial with Kim’s Gramma, the real quest begins and this 12-year-old Samurai (hopefully not soon-to-be Ronin) will grow up quick!
To get across these top-down, tile-based maps, the young warrior Kim can only be moved in a Rook-like fashion: in a straight line either North-South, or East-West. Kim dashes until she hits a wall and cannot stop, so use those Wu-Tang teachings and think before you move. The closest reference to Keen’s play style that comes to mind is the Ice Path puzzle in Pokemon Gold and Silver, where the player has to slide the character around in this movement style in environments where a certain combination of proper movements is the only way to progress. Kim will slash enemies as she dashes through them, and will cut them down when she stops between, or to the side of them. Enemies move one square in any direction every time Kim makes a move, so with a little dashing around, the player can set up enemies in their path to cut them down. Don’t get caught stopping in a spot that an enemy can reach with their one square movement turn, or you’ll suffer! Kim has five hearts health, and there are only so many replenishment pads in the game world. Despite any preconceptions you may have about chibi game characters, Kim is a surprisingly lovable avatar for Keen, blurring the line between action and puzzle game.
Download the pre-alpha demo here.
Played it? We’d love to know what you thought about it.
Here’s a gameplay video by KillinPixels
This article is written by @thenegaverse