Black Hive’s Kickstarter game, Kova, is a mysterious, intriguing take on a familiar formula. The playable vertical slice, which is available if you back the game on Kickstarter, is a 2D action platformer reminiscent of early Metroid titles. The demo starts with a nameless space traveler who crash landed on a deadly, icy alien planet. He needs to quickly fix his ship, or else face the perils of this unknown world.
There are limits to everything in Kova, including how much you can jump, sprint and dash. These functions are tied to a stamina bar, and when that depletes, you begin to lose your health. Crafting with minerals found in the world restores your health, ammo and stamina. However, crafting isn’t needlessly complicated, thankfully, and it only takes the one of the appropriate mineral to recharge. Being able to craft on the go, although not very quickly, provides a smooth experience when needing to restore in combat.
Kova handles just smoothly enough where movement isn’t clunky, but it doesn’t feel like you’re in complete control. A mid-air dash, as well as a double jump (both of which consume stamina) render movement and maneuvering throughout the map a blast. Although there were only a few enemies, combat seemed simple enough: shoot with right trigger, and holding down the left trigger allows you to aim. On the control screen, it showed an option to throw grenades and switch weapons, but neither of those are available in the demo.
The music and art style are the most interesting and compelling aspects of Kova. A melody-less electronic soundtrack provides a somber, yet eerie tone for the game. For being in the early state that it is in, the animations are solid. Even little touches, like frantic kicks when the Traveller jumps, make for some solid immersion. The cold color pallet adds to the level of thematic discomfort and uncertainty.
Kova is still very early in development, but at this stage I am eager and hopeful for what comes next.