It’s evident that Kandria is a post-apocalyptic/post-calamity world: there’s no autosave. Seriously, what’s it coming to the world when we can’t live a life of adventure without having automation wiping our cracks? At least we have androids to protect us.
Theoretically, you’re the android in this title from Shirakumo Games. Good ol’ Catherine has uncovered your vessel, and now you’re in her servitude, ensuring that those feeble little humans can survive in a hostile, barren world. It’s a big ask.
Kandria has been linked to Celeste, and if you’re familiar with the indie hit, you might draw those comparisons. Me? Nope. I’m not familiar enough with it, so this review is based on the game’s own merit, and this is the bit you want to know: it’s pretty, pretty good.
This is a pretty big game, and unlike those open-world games where you push just that little further early on to spawn fast travel points for when you need it (Red Dead Redemption 2, methinks), you’re sort of free to do as you please from the start. Bear in mind that wandering the desolate lands as some cybernetic vagabond might be a bit fruitless, but you can scavenge lots of stuff to use as a way to upgrade your blade.
Your android, affectionately called Stranger, wields a sword that can cause mayhem with both light and heavy attacks at supersonic speeds. Even better? You can use it as a fishing rod to nab fish swimming in potholes. Take that, Animal Crossing: New Horizons! These developers have thought of everything. Except auto-save. At least you can manually save at a phonebox. If you remember…
Anyways… combat is sleek, but a button masher, and the challenge in Kandria won’t be coming from the enemies on show. Instead, three unique ingredients make up the game: platforming, exploration, and the story. Let’s go with platforming, as that’s straightforward enough.
Stranger floats a little with their jumping, but it works well. For the first twenty minutes or so, it felt like it was a little too basic and restrictive, but there’s an option to dash, which I thought was horizontal, but allows you to dash upwards, too, ascending levels as fast as a courier needing a poo. It’s needed because Kandria is massive, and each area has floor upon floor to explore for goods and is unrestrictive in that you can explore early on. If doing one of the many errands for the NPCs, you’ll still find yourself traversing a lot of ground, so it’s good to get accustomed to the movements.
The same applies to climbing as the game employs similar mechanics to Zelda: BOTW as a gauge appears while climbing. Run out, and you’ll drop down, but because you’re built so damn fine, your android thighs will remain intact, taking zero damage. It is frustrating when falling from great heights, however. Exploration is self-explanatory, and having the option to wander is good, but it’s probably best to befriend the sweary (toggle options available) NPCs you run around for. That way, you have a bit of purpose and can level up along the way.
The third surprising element of Kandria is the story. Dialogue offers a point and click type dialogue tree where you can choose a good range of options, often witty and even a little sneaky – i.e. lying to a character. Illustrations are literally ‘sketchy’ and serve as a visual dialogue type presentation. I wasn’t a fan of the art style, but the interactions were endearing. Perhaps a bit of a wildcard, but I liked the pixel art visuals (not usually a fan). Though they lack the realism in movement, they resemble Flashback. Finally, the music was fantastic. Kandria was played on the Steam Deck with some NIN in the background, but I ended up muting the latter as the musical score was that good.
Kandria is an excellent platform/exploration/narrative that was enjoyable from the get-go. Even the tutorial was well-paced (we all know how to jump, right?), so getting into the action and being free to dream of electric sheep (and swing a big ol’ sword at zombie dorks) was an excellent decision. Read/watch/smell some other reviews, but I’m saying it’s very good. *sticks a thumb up*