Unforgiving and unpolished, Keatz: The Lonely Bird is a dreadful story about a flightless bird whose species has been banned from the ungrateful bird community of the fowl nation – Heavens. Feeling down in the dumps and desperate to seek vengeance on all those who toss aside anyone not up to par by their standards, Keatz embarks on a 2D platforming journey riddled with flaws and errors to the core; but if dissected carefully, shows promise of much greater future endeavors from the young indie developer – Anamik Majumdar.
After a rather heart-wrenching introduction, players take over as the flightless bird, Keatz, and begin firing away with the mysterious gun they obtained in a dream. Now flightless but deadly, Keatz is able to hop around the moderately sized platforming levels in search of a variety of different coloured gems, and that precious loot we all hunger for: money. Throughout these clunky platforming levels, players may take notice that they have no ending location. They’re simply over when the player has completed the objectives mentioned on the loading screen before the level starts.
It’s easy to find the frustrations that leak through the cracks of Keatz: The Lonely Bird. The scavenger hunt to seek out all collectable items to end the level comes with its own share of miscues. Passing up important collectables only to be forced to backtrack across otherwise impossible one-way platforming obstacles is a rage-quit inducing tactic and happens frequently. The level design is unique and shows a decent amount of challenging traps and hazards, but still lacks the finishing touches to leave a positive impression.
Ouch, Those Controls Are Painful
The smooth controls in a platformer are key in creating a memorable and delightful experience for gamers. Both the keyboard and gamepad options feel clumsy, offering an unwelcome learning curve to manoeuvre around the sticky movements. When using a gamepad, the game forces players to use the left analogue stick to move left and right, but also using it to jump as well. The face buttons don’t exactly hinder the experience, but moving and hopping about the levels are often a wild beast that can be rather frustrating to tame.
Other than gems and cash to collect, there are also health packs, ammo crates and other similar useful items. Guarding many of these items are the enemy bird henchmen that fire away at Keatz on sight. Through a variety of different weapons, players will need to persevere through a relentless amount of trial and error to continue further in the campaign. There are a total of 20 levels to play through, both available in easy and hard modes. However, these difficulty settings don’t help with the obvious holes and clumsy mechanics featured in the game.
Keatz: The Lonely Bird
There’s not much to the simple platformer in terms of story – a lonely bird cast out from an overruling government wants revenge. Yes really. The story seems to strike a chord of personal feelings from the developer as a positive message to not let someone’s unwelcome judgement anchor you down. It’s unfortunate, however, that the gameplay and mechanics themselves un-apologetically anchor the story down with glaring frustrations, issues and an overall unpolished feeling. Through all of the clunky moments and my rotten words towards the casual platformer, there’s still some dim light that shines through the ever-present cracks in Keatz: The Lonely Bird.
You can find Keatz: The Lonely Bird available for PC on Steam coming this January 2018.
Keatz: The Lonely Bird is a simple platformer that fails for one major reason: smooth controls. While that’s what hinders Keatz the most, there are still plenty of smaller issues that riddle the young indie title.