Kite Early Access Review

By Skyler Springer

Kite is a Run and Gun game, and the inaugural title from Lab Cat Games. It is currently in Early Access on Steam and Crowdfunding on Equity Arcade. The Steam price-tag is $10, and on Equity Arcade you can invest however much you like above a certain minimum to have an actual stake in the property.

 

 

Being Mags (a cybernetic, gun toting warrior in a leotard) is a gas. The keyboard controls are intuitive, the visual and audio feedback are gratifying, and strategically deploying her acquired abilities against a wave of robots or a boss is, put simply, electrifying.

The game takes place in a society "on the brink of utopia." Weapons of all kinds have been turned over and disposed of, with the exception of a few top-secret arsenals throughout the world. Mags is one of these weapons, and when armed robots go rogue, it's up to her to stop the slaughter and save the world.

Mags is basically (Polnareff) with cybernetic parts and two x chromosomes. Her design perfectly embodies the eras of games that Kite evokes (The Chaos Engine, Super Smash TV, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors to name a few). The color palette and graphical style are reminiscent of Super Contra, with modern polish and classic vibrance.

To call Lab Cat Games' Kite a love letter to Run and Gun is wrong. It's a modern sonnet.

The bumping Vapor Wave soundtrack is like Hotline Miami filtered through a Terminator T-800. At review time, I’m emailing the developers to see if they ever plan to sell it. The idea is to listen to it at the gym, but I might accidentally drive into a Miami sunset.

The upgrade system depends on the scientists you rescue, who join an ever-growing team devoted to making you more badass, and the dropped resources you collect. It's very simple with plenty of variety for however you want your Mags to fight. My current build is a melee laser sword wielding juggernaut with a swarm of laser shooting mini-bots.

Each level has a few objectives, like rescuing scientists, disabling servers, and destroying various enemy structures. Almost everything in the environment that isn't a wall is destructible. The destructible environments drop resources for upgrades, as well as hiding routes to safer alternatives to the turret-ridden paths throughout the level. While it's possible to blast through a wave of enemies without thinking too much about it early in the game, managing your energy meter plays a big role in later battles.

The first half of each level is usually a frantic run through tight spaces filled with mines and shielded turrets, trying to find the shield generators and destroy them. With the ability to both sprint and slow down time, finding a path through the spawning enemy swarms and stationary turrets adds a dimension of bullet hell frenzy. Once the shields are down, you get to unleash the pent-up aggression from earlier in the level and put warheads on foreheads. Boss fights combine these elements into mini-puzzles, not unlike early Legend of Zelda titles and Titan Souls.

You’ll love Kite if you like: Run and Gun Combat, Bullet Hell, Resource Management, Vapor Wave, Lots of Weapons, Sleek Upgrade Systems, Vibrant Colors, Pixel Art, and Difficult Gameplay.

RECOMMENDED PC SPECS:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel I-5

Memory: 8 GB RAM

Graphics: 512 MB Video Card

DirectX: Version 8.0

Storage: 200 MB available space

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