Kya: Dark Lineage Review
Kya: Dark Lineage is the latest game from developer Eden Studios, who are best known for their V-Rally racing series of games. Kya, however, couldn't be further from anything they've previously done, as it's an action/adventure/platforming game. While the game does borrow heavily from a number of well-known titles (Zelda, Rayman, Sonic the Hedgehog) it does bring several new gameplay ideas to the table. In the end, Kya's presentation is a bit lackluster, and it needs a little polish, but overall it's a pleasant way to spend a weekend.
Kya: Dark Lineage follows the adventures of a stereotypical spunky teen named Kya. One day, her half-brother discovers a secret room in their house that served as a laboratory to their father, who seemingly has abandoned them. After activating a device by accident, Kya's brother, Frank, opens up a portal to another world. Before Kya can figure out what's going on, Frank is sucked into the opening and is soon after followed by Kya. As she awakens, Kya learns that she's in another world inhabited by cat-like creatures called Nativs. These Nativs are in hiding from the Wolfens and their leader, who we learn is actually Kya's father. Long story short, the Nativs need Kya to help them, and by doing so she will be able to find her brother and figure out just what's going on with her pops. The story's not great, but it is interesting enough to keep your attention throughout the game.
Kya's gameplay is mixture of platforming and action, with a few Zelda-type bits thrown in for good measure. The platform areas of the game are where Kya will move from place to place, and along the way, she'll have to solve puzzles, and fight Wolfen. The platform areas are pretty straightforward, but there are also times where you'll have to ride the wind, other animals, or slide through tunnels on a board. When fighting Wolfen, Dark Lineage employs an adequate, but not fancy fighting system, complete with the ability to perform combos. After you render one of the Wolfen unconscious you can resurrect the Nativ that is trapped inside by going up to them and hitting triangle. As you free more and more Nativs, they will return to their secret hideout and build shops. At these shops you can purchase upgrades, new items, and a new board for the sliding levels. Confused? It's actually not confusing at all, but it does sound more than a bit wacky when you try and explain it.
The concept behind the game is solid, but some of the execution leaves a bit to be desired. For starters, the game's camera is pretty horrendous. It doesn't like to move on its own, unless you're moving at a high rate of speed, in which case it will move to the worst position possible. You can adjust it, but it's very tough to move the camera around while you fight, fly, slide, and jump. The controls are also clunkier than they need to be. This problem starts with some curious button mapping, and continues to the ridiculous control or lack thereof while you are flying through a wind tunnel. When you add these two issues together, and try and move quickly through any of the platforming sections, it's a recipe for disaster.
Kya's levels are huge, and very creatively designed, but these same two positives can and sometimes do turn into negatives. It's very easy to get lost in the game, even with the map feature that is provided. It's also difficult to figure out where you need to go, even if you know where you are. It seems the developers realized this early on and they give you huge flashing signs to point you in the right direction, but after the five minutes where they help you, the arrows are gone, leaving you lost and clueless.
Dark Lineage's graphics are the proverbial mixed bag. The levels are huge, and the colors are lush and vibrant in areas, but they just aren't very interesting. While some areas are bright and colorful, others are dark, drab, and not much to look at. The character design as a whole isn't bad, but Kya herself isn't anything special. The game's framerate is solid and isn't every really an issue. Progressive Scan isn't supported, but there is an option for 16x9 presentation, which doesn't add much to the game but is nice for the people that never get to enjoy their widescreen TVs like they would like.
The sound in Kya: Dark Lineage is profoundly average. The voice acting isn't very good, but it's not bad enough that it will ruin the mood of the game. The game's music does a nice job of adding to the game, and while there isn't any part of it that really stands out, it's good.
Kya: Dark Lineage is a solid effort, but not without flaws. If you are able to look past frustrating controls and a poor camera, the game is quite enjoyable. It's also not one of those games that added a bunch of annoying sidequests to extend its length, and as a result, it can be beaten with a healthy weekend of gaming. If you're looking for a good game that's not getting a lot of press, Kya: Dark Lineage is definitely worth a look.
12/23/2003 Aaron Thomas