reviews\ Dec 2, 2003 at 7:00 pm

KYA: Dark Lineage - PS2 - Review

A car moves down a darkened street, outside a house in which a blue-haired girl follows a bouncing basketball down the stairs. Her half-brother, Frank, has found a secret room – one that her father had sealed. Frank inadvertently sets in motion some strange device that opens a portal to another world. Both Frank and the girl are swept into the vortex.


When the girl, Kya, comes to, a strange creature is staring at her. No time to ponder, though. He tells her to hurry and as wolf-like creatures swarm into the clearing, the girl – Kya – jumps to her feet and follows.


The path is harrowing, full of things to leap over, traps to avoid and air streams that lift her up and forces her to fly.


The pace is hurried and players have little time to savor the adventure as Kya: Dark Lineage, a PlayStation 2 release from Atari and Eden Games, goes full throttle into the action.


Kya’s father disappeared many years before, and it was into this strange land that he found his way. There are two races, the Wolfen and the natives. Kya’s father mastered the world's magic powers, but he “became someone else,” an evil and powerful force that leads the Wolfen. They have captured Frank and Kya’s father, who now goes by the name of Brazul, has him taken to the labs to be used as a guinea pig for his foul experiments.


It is up to Kya to rescue her half-brother. But to do so, she will have to confront many dangers, learn to harness some magical powers herself, fight, fly and use every physical skill at her disposal.


But there is even more to the story. It seems that the Wolfen were all once Natives who have been transformed. By collecting certain power-ups, and defeating them in battle, Kya can change them back to Natives.


The gameplay is a combination of battle and puzzle solving. The path seems rather linear in that there is only one way through the mazes which serve as levels, and while there are side trips, players are basically challenged to traverse the course, pick up the power-ups and coins (Kya needs coins to purchase her weapons and even a skateboard). If a machine tosses a bomb, but not quite far enough, you can launch the weapon and then run over and kick it to where you need it placed – but you had better be quick before it blows up.


Sometimes merely attacking the enemy is not the wisest thing to do. Kya can sneak past them when necessary.


When it comes to the animation, this is a well-done game. The combat is fast-paced and Kya’s combination of punches, kicks and weapon attacks are flawless. The effects are also quite nice. Whether flying through the levels, or surfing at a rapid pace through an obstacle-laden course, the game does have some environmental diversity.


The soundtrack features vocal characterizations that fit into the style of the game, and the musical tracks underscore the action appropriately.


The puzzles are rather simplistic and most veteran gamers will get the feeling of having seen all this before. All one needs to do is explore an environment and remember all the skills at your disposal and the solutions to continuing on the trek will become readily apparent. This is not a game that stretches the mental muscles. And if that was not enough, there are signs scattered throughout portions of the game that will give clues as to how to work past certain areas.


Kya: Dark Lineage is rather simplistic in terms of puzzles, and the overall gameplay is a mish-mash of ideas that are familiar. What makes this game stand out is the animation. The worlds are very lush, and characters and animations are delightful.


This game is rated Teen for cartoon violence, crude humor and suggestive themes.


Gameplay: 7.8

The game has some frame-rate problems that cause an occasional stutter, but the transition from one area of the map to another is seamless.


Graphics: 8.3

The graphical quality of the game is very good. The environments are lush, the animations are excellent and the characters are all well rendered.


Sound: 8

The musical score does a nice job of underscoring the action and the voice characterizations fit nicely into the game.


Difficulty: Easy/Medium

This is a somewhat linear game, but you will be required to perform from thumb-smashing aerobics to work through.


Concept: 7.5

This game feels rushed. The interfaces is simple and easy to get hold of, but the tempo of the game is such that you have little time to savor what you are seeing or doing.


Overall: 7.8

This game seems like it has been rushed along. Rather than give players a chance to savor the rich graphical elements, they are pushed pell-mell down the path, which has some arcade feel to it. There are elevated platforms that you have to time-jump to get up, and timed obstacles to get through (as in you time the passage and then move through at a break in the flow of the obstacle). The gameplay lacks originality, which is contrary to the look of the game. Make no mistake about it – Kya: Dark Lineage is a terrific-looking game.



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