Kine review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Chump Squad
Developer: Gwen Frey
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If you?ve ever wanted to see how a game skates by on its charm, even when its substance leaves a little to be desired, you need to take a look at Kine.

See, as a puzzle-platformer, it?s got some glaring issues. You?re in control of a trio of instruments who want to form a band, and each of them can only move in specific ways, none of them particularly helpful. On top of that, these instruments exist in a world that?s also awkwardly-shaped, so not only are you maneuvering objects that don?t move very well, you?re doing so in environments that aren?t very player-friendly. Additionally, the camera leaves a lot to be desired, so it feels like you?re never quite able to get the right viewing angle.


Further, the levels seem to jump back and forth between ?incredibly easy? and ?absurdly hard,? with almost no ground in between. The easy ones can be finished in a couple of seconds, but the hard ones seem to require pure dumb luck. You?ll usually get to the end if you just keep moving things around for a several minutes, but you?ll also have no idea how you got there. Thankfully the Kine doesn?t keep track of your time or assign scores to each level or anything, but that doesn?t make the tougher levels any more palatable.

Yet, even with those complaints, I can?t help but love Kine. It?s adorable, and charming, and sweet, and it?s got a fantastic soundtrack to round it all out.

Some of this should be expected. After all, it?s a game where the main characters are instruments, so it only stands to reason that the developers made extra effort to fill Kine with a soundtrack that?s jazzy and pleasant to listen to. Even when you make a wrong move, and you?re rewarded with a discordant accordion blat or oddly-timed drum roll, it still finds a way to make the wrong notes sound musical. And, of course, when everything unfolds as it?s supposed to, it sounds fantastic too.

It helps as well that the three instruments — Euler, Quat, and Roo — are pretty well-written characters, with distinctive personalities and a story that makes it easy to root for them. It?s hardly ground-breaking to write a tale about musicians who want to make it big, and not even making the musicians instruments changes that, but they?re so cute, it?s easy to forget the clich?d nature of it and just enjoy the story.

Which, as I said, is something that can be said about the whole game. Kine isn?t original, and it?s got some pretty obvious gameplay flaws. But when a game is as charmingly put-together as this one, you won?t have much difficulty ignoring all that and focusing on the positives.

Chump Squad provided us with a Kine Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B