Before diving head first into this review, I’d better come clean with you. Despite harbouring a deep-rooted love for the action platforming genre, I’d never even heard of The Legend Of Kay prior to Nordic Games’ news of a remastered anniversary edition.
Released way back in 2005 exclusively on PlayStation 2, the original game (developed by the now defunct Neon Studios) was met by a fairly positive media buzz. That’s no small accolade, especially when it was competing against Ratchet & Clank and Sly Raccoon, as well as Naughty Dog’s Jak & Daxter – all of which were hailed as flagships of the platforming genre. With these three aforementioned series having been revived as part of Sony’s “HD Classics” label, Nordic Games no doubt saw an opportunity to do the same with The Legend Of Kay, albeit a few years down the line.
Available on PlayStation 4, Wii U and PC, this anniversary edition can be described as a straight-up remaster. Using improved rendering techniques and other forms of graphical wizardry, Nordic has given The Legend Of Kay a decent spit ‘n’ shine while also working in one or two tweaks. Audio, for instance, has been fully optimised for surround sound televisions and online leaderboards have also managed to find their way into the game.
The game itself is exactly what you’d expect from a kid-friendly action platformer of the mid 00s. Set in a realm clearly inspired by the orient, the peace is broken when an invading force of rats and gorillas come ashore. Oh yeah, we should probably mention that all characters are styled around different anthropomorphic animals and each group has its own lands and culture, presented in-game with some truly stereotypical, accent-laden voicework.
Caught in the midst of this power struggle, Kay steps in as your everyday rebellious youth. Fed up of the occupation and the assimilation of his people, he sets off on a journey to banish the gorillas and rats from his lands once and for all.
This basic narrative structure isn’t the only thing The Legend Of Kay has in common with its counterparts. The semi-open world structure, as well its toggling focus between combat, navigation, and puzzle-solving are all hallmarks of the 3D action platformers we came to love two generations ago.
Although players are continually prodded down a linear path, Kay has its fair share of backtracking as well as optional objectives to complete – all of which is kept track of in a handy quest log. Neon struck a fairly solid balance when it came to exploration and pacing, giving players plenty to see and do as they advance from one area to the next.
The combat and platforming sections are both fairly approachable, holding a certain degree of depth for the more intermediate gamer. Between basic attacks and blocking, players can utilise Kay’s powerful Chi ability while also chaining in grapples and somersaults. Meanwhile, platforming is padded out using a variety of obstacles including zhongs – small wooden totems that can be dashed between when in mid-air.
Overall, it’s a fun entry to the genre and one that hasn’t been completely ravaged by the eroding waves of time, even ten years after its debut. However, despite the recent makeover, it still carries the appearance of a sub-par PlayStation 3 game at best, or at least a mid-range indie. That said, Nordic Games isn’t trying to pass it off a full-fat release, the anniversary edition retailing at around twenty pounds – a fair price if you ask me.
Whether looking to relive a forgotten favourite or simply in the mood for an old school action platformer, The Legend Of Kay is more than just serviceable. It’s a fun, inspired take on the genre that plays well despite its lack of ground-breaking features.
Version tested: PS4