Review: Kick & Fennick (PS4)

kick-and-fennick-review-banner-yr10

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Kick & Fennick
Format: PlayStation Network Download (3.43)
Release Date: June 2, 2016
Publisher: Abstraction Games
Developer: Jaywalkers Interactive
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Kick & Fennick is also available on PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and Wii U.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Kick & Fennick was launched for PS Vita on February 3rd, 2015 by a different publisher. I mention this only to point out that the game may have had some changes from its PS Vita inception.

Options are minimal. Controller vibrations and speaker functions on or off and Menu between levels which I left at the ON default. When you hit START the level difficulties may be chosen. They are Easy, Normal, and Hard. For this review I am playing Normal. And if ya don’t know, now ya know Mr. President.

This game gives new meaning to term “butt hurt”. Poor Fennick hurts his robutt almost immediately. Your task becomes more clear as you play.

The game has no dialogue, yet does an admirable job in most situations of communicating intent, need, and emotion.

It doesn’t give very clear instructions about how to use the gun. It actually gives conflicting instructions by telling the player that the gun is powerful but it doesn’t tell you the backwards way it is powerful. Like I just did.

… Before going right, go left …
It could be me, really it could be my somewhat shaky carpal tunnel issues, but I wish the aiming control with the right analog stick was less “floaty”.

Time slows when aiming the gun which makes for some interesting progressive-jump mechanics. The time-slow-down begins when you move the right thumb to aim and NOT when you fire the gun which further shortens the duration of the Matrix effect so be quick. While being slow.

The issue is the floaty feel of the right thumb in tandem with a slow-down which only lasts a few seconds. It’s not the End of the World but it does present a slight complication which wouldn’t be present if the right thumb stick wasn’t so “live”, “floaty”, or “slippery”.

So you start and you need to go places. So go, already! And always remember my side-scroller caveat. Before going right, go left. Ya never know. OK, well now you do, but still. Additionally, there may be areas you don’t realize exist which contain items you need. The camera might not show them. Take a leap of faith or two or a hundred.

… you aren’t paying attention …
Think of that great film Midnight Express about Brad Davis in a Turkish prison. The only exercise the inmates get is walking in a circle. They always walk to the RIGHT because walking to the LEFT would be communist! Brad Davis walks to the LEFT because he just can’t take it any more and the place goes nuts! (HEY EDITOR: I have a new saying. “Be like Brad!” Think it’ll catch on? We need a new T-Shirt! “PS Nation Be Like Brad”! I’m not kidding.) (HEY REVIEWER: Now, the Seniors in the back. “We Like Brad! We Like Brad!” Also, Turn Left and fight the Trickster’s Brigade like Donna Noble.)

Charming. Adorable. These words keep coming to me as descriptors of the interactions between Kick and Fennick. Kind of like a boy and his dog. (HEY EDITOR! It took Don Johnson decades to go from his 1975 film debut to his great performance in Tarantino’s Django Unchained! Let’s remind everyone of A Boy and his Dog, shall we? Note: ABAHD is NOT rated E10+ by a long shot.) (HEY REVIEWER! It’s certainly no The Man Who Fell to Earth.)

You may find you want to not walk across areas which may collapse. Don’t. Or DO depending on how you read that sentence and how pedantic an English Major you are.

At times you might feel stuck. You’re not. It’s simply that you aren’t paying attention to the edges of the screen where an empty space is presenting itself. Free your mind and the rest will follow! (HEY EDITOR! Why do I feel like I’ve used that lyric before? It’s OK. Don’t try to find it in one of my other reviews. I know you have nothing but time. After all, time keeps flowing like a river. To the sea. ‘Til it’s gone forever. Gone forever. I swear I have James Whale’s mind. I managed to get En Vogue, Alan Parson’s Project and the film Gods and Monsters into the same paragraph. I pity you editing my insanity…..now add Mr. T!) (HEY REVIEWER! NEVER!)

You may shoot switches to activate them. By the way, Kick & Fennick keeps ramping-up with various mechanics. It does so in a gradual manner and always the additions are meaningful and fun.

… gather all your energy …
Gather enough Special Gear “nodes” and you can change your outfit among other things.

The levels often present puzzles in and of themselves. Sometimes you just can’t see where to go but you’re not stuck. Pressing Triangle will show you the ultimate destination but not always the route.

The further into the game you progress the more complicated the levels and the more finesse you’ll need to gather all your energy.

PRO TIP
In order to launch yourself across a great distance, hold-off aiming for subsequent shots as long as you can. Aim too soon and your shots will be too close together. You won’t make it.

As early as “Chapter 2” you will encounter enemies more frequently. Just remember that this isn’t Call of Duty! When you aim, time slows down… for a few seconds. The great thing about using your gun AS a gun, is that you can fire several times unlike the launch mechanic which is more limited. Just try to remember NOT to aim yourself at the enemies and launch by mistake. But even if you do, that stuff’s funny!

… This is a beautiful game …
Visuals:
Running at 60 frames per second with the most adorable juvenile Christopher Atkins look-alike is a great way to start! (HEY EDITOR! I saw Christopher Atkins LIVE in the 80s! He played Danny Zucko in a tour of GREASE! with Lori Laughlin as Sandy. The memory is like a fever dream. He couldn’t sing at all so they upstaged him with a teenage werewolf during the song SANDY so you would notice less. Best part of the show! Too bad they didn’t just write a musical version of BLUE LAGOON for him and Brooke Shields who can probably also not sing well but who later ALSO starred in the Broadway revival of GREASE! In the 90s! About the ONLY thing I was NOT thinking when I saw THE BLUE LAGOON six times in cinemas when I was in high school was, “WOW! How GNARLY would it be to see these two in GREASE! some day”!?) (HEY REVIEWER! I got chills… they’re multiplyin’)

Kick’s animations while walking make him look like a little Six Million Dollar Man. (HEY EDITOR! SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN!) (HEY REVIEWER! BIONIC BIGFOOT!) The effect is really very charming.

Camera movements are deliberate and cinematic.

Graphics can be an unusual beast in that one becomes used to them after a short time. Not until you take a break from the game and come back do you think, again, “Wow. This is a beautiful game.” Kick & Fennick is a beautiful game.

… a delight …
Audio:
Good and unusual use of the DualShock 4 speaker. You may find yourself looking at the controller and thinking, “What was THAT?”

The composer of the music is credited right in the opening of the game. Jonathan van den Wijngaarden has composed for several games by various developers. His work for this game is top notch.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The most satisfying element of gameplay is its simplicity. Because the play is simple, yet nuanced, it won’t take long before you feel “I got this”. The part played by the nuance serves to enhance the experience and not make the game feel like a child’s game. It certainly ramps-up!

Elements of timing, puzzle-solving, exploration, and platforming combine with great visuals and audio to make Kick & Fennick a delight.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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  • Roger Cannon

    The aiming on the Vita version was a bit too floaty for my tastes, too. It’s not you, it’s the game. “The Man Who Fell to Earth” is superior to “A Boy and His Dog” but that ending…