Kaze and the Wild Masks Review

Kaze and the Wild Masks presents itself as a call back to the good old days of ’90s platforming games, and it won’t take long for players to find out why. In almost every way, this game emulates classics like Donkey Kong Country, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Mario to an extent, and it does so flawlessly. Despite this imitation, it never feels like a cheap copy or unoriginal, giving it its own layers of beauty despite the uniqueness of Kaze’s masks. Kaze and the Wild Masks may not do much in the way of transformation, but it does everything incredibly well. Created by PixelHive and Soedesco, Kaze and the Wild Masks sees players take on the role of Kaze, an agile rabbit on a mission. In the opening cutscene, Kaze defeats his friend Hogo with an evil curse that then spreads across the island and causes chaos, and it’s up to him to figure things out. Throughout the course of the game, players will progress through more than 30 unique levels in an attempt to break the curse, save Hogo, and restore peace to the Crystal Islands. The story is pretty straightforward, but that’s part of the point. To put it plainly, Kaze and the Wild Masks are completely unremarkable. Not a single aspect of the game will shock, awe, or amaze players, and the whole thing will feel familiar or nostalgic. While that may seem like a negative comment, it is in fact Kaze and the Wild Masks’ greatest strength. PixelHive and Soedesco know exactly what they are doing with this game. Instead of investing time and money into making a groundbreaking title full of innovations that were probably lacking, they instead invested it all in making one of the smoothest and cleanest games imaginable. Kaze and the Wild Masks is nostalgic imagery Players get exactly what they expect from Kaze and the Wild Masks, with the exception of one that seems to run flawlessly. Don’t expect to encounter any game glitches, unexpected crashes, or bugs, as those have been completely removed from the game. Also, the visuals are very clear, so players will never get confused about what’s in the foreground and what’s in the background. The sound design is similarly simple, giving off the feel of a ’90s platformer in a way that’s easy to understand. Everything in this game works towards one goal of creating a smooth and reliable platforming experience. If there’s anything that sets Kaze and the Wild Masks apart from its inspirations, it has to be the titular wild masks, and even these draw inspiration from other titles. In the different levels that players will go through, there are wild masks placed around that change what Kaze can do. In total, there are four different masks, an eagle, tiger, shark, and lizard mask. When players first find the eagle mask, they gain the power of flight, as well as a projectile weapon to help clear the path. The level then seamlessly changes to accommodate the new power, and the game seems to change completely. Once the shark mask is obtained, Kaze can move freely as he swims underwater. These underwater portions of the game make full use of two-dimensional space much better than flight, allowing players to explore caves and grottoes in search of hidden rewards. The tiger mask allows Kaze to grab onto walls and climb around, while the lizard mask lets him jump and run faster. Once this mask is obtained, the game switches to an auto scroller, and players are forced to hone their reaction time and use all their skills to get through without crashing into any obstacles. Kaze and the Wild Masks Eagle Mask Power The masks shake up the gameplay loop a bit, providing a nice change of pace from what fans have come to expect. They’re also a testament to Kaze and Wild Masks’ brilliant level design, which seems to serve the same purpose of being enjoyable yet simple to understand. Each level tends to have only one or two gimmicks, whether that be ziplines, moving platforms, bouncing jelly, or something else. Furthermore, if a level has a mask in it, it’s very clear that the entire level is designed around that fact. Players will always feel like they have the tools they need to succeed. RELATED: Flow Weaver Review The progression of the story and world map is purely linear, and players will progress through its 30+ levels one at a time. While it may seem short at first, there are a ton of optional objectives that dedicated players can attempt to complete if they choose. The final boss can only be reached by completing each level, but pick up certain collectibles along the way and bonus levels will appear, a gallery will provide a deeper backstory, and there’s a secret or two will be unlocked at the end for most. skilled and dedicated players. In each level, there are five optional objectives for players to tackle outside of just reaching the end. First, players can try to get more than 100 purple crystals in each level. There are usually a few over a hundred, so it’s not the end of the world if a few are missed. Next, there are also four letters to be found in each level, usually quite a bit out of the way. Collecting them all reveals new gallery images summarizing the game’s backstory. There are also two bonus levels hidden within each level, and they are even better hidden. Finally, while it may seem like it’s just for bragging rights, players can try to clear each level without taking damage and in a time trial format. Kaze and the Wild Masks optional objectives in the levels Clearing these bonus levels rewards players with green crystals. Collect enough of them and completely new levels on the world map will open. Finding these bonus levels is one of the highlights of the gameplay. They are never hidden unfairly, and players are taught in advance where to find them. After unlocking the secret level in each world, players will be treated to a whole new kind of challenge and one of the ways that Kaze and the Wild Masks are making a difference with great success. In principle, these secret levels are like any other, but they add unique twists that are sure to make players win. In an effort to remain spoiler-free, these won’t be discussed further, but suffice it to say that they are worth the time it takes to unlock them. Even gamers with experience in platformer games may find themselves challenged by the secret levels, and some of the levels in the final world are also quite difficult. Overall, there’s not much to be upset about when it comes to Kaze and the Wild Masks. If forced to say something negative about the game, it’s a shame that wild masks don’t play more often. They can only be used at certain times in certain levels, so players aren’t really allowed to experiment with them much. Also, the boss fights can feel a bit unbalanced, either being too easy or too hard. However, these things are minor gripes that don’t affect the overall gaming experience. Kaze and the Wild Masks is mediocre in every way, and never fails to impress. It excels at its goal of creating a clean, enjoyable, and nostalgic ’90s platforming experience, while simultaneously providing enough new takes to keep things exciting. Kaze and the Wild Masks is available now on PC, PS4, Stadia, Switch, and Xbox One. MORE: Bravely Default 2 Review

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