Legend of Kay is a PS3 remaster on Wii U (and PS4 but I don’t have that) while Devil’s Third is currently being critically panned and victim of internet hate, much like Anita Sarkeesian. The question is, is it (the game, not Anita) really as horrible as everyone claims? Short answer: NO! Long answer? Well…
Legend of Kay was released in early August in Europe but I can only review it now since I review the retail version and that one was released on August 28th, the same day Devil’s Third was released in Europe. So I got them both, played both and now review both. Preferably in a very confusing and slightly spoilery way.
To make matters worse, I will NOT hide the spoilers, so you are warned! I will also end this review with a Q&A because why not?^^
Back in the PS2 era there were many a few 3D adventure platformer. Legend of Kay was such a thing and apparently nobody bought it. So publisher Nordic Games figured they can do a remaster for Wii U and PS4 and make a quick buck. Back in the PS2 days Itagaki also started development on Devil’s Third (to be fair, he started development seven years ago when the PS3 was already out but the PS2 was still being developed for) his first indie game for PS3 and XBox 360. The game went through development hell and after it was cancelled Nintendo stepped in and revived it as the zombie it is today. So both games have varied history behind them, which makes this double review interesting.
Now let’s get one thing out of the way: Devil’s Third is NOT the game the internet wants you to believe. It is not a trainwreck with an abyssmal framerate, it does NOT have tons of bugs and screentearing. It is actually a rather complete package! Heck, Ubisoft WISHES they could release a game in this state, without all the bugs n stuff! No, I am NOT kidding either!
Here’s the thing, Devil’s Third is NOT a looker. If this were 2010 it would look good and in 2012 it would look very average but today it just looks old. Not Gears of War old but old. That being said, the visuals are the games lowest point, unlike Legend of Kay which looks not much better than a PS2 game, obviously, it being a remaster and all but the visual style of that game holds up quite well, despite the atrocious draw distance. There was one level, City of Frogs, where the draw distance as so ridiculously bad it had N64 style culling and fog. And no, I am not kidding.
Sure, Kay runs in 900p with 60fps (mostly) but it better, seeing how it is mostly confined to small spaces and narrow pathways. Devil’s Third on the other hand runs in 720p 30fps (again, mostly) and while I read online that there is screen tearing, I experienced no such thing. I am not sure if I just got lucky on my playthrough (I finished the story mode, more on that later) or if the EU version was bugfixed because I had no unmoving NPCs, no screen tearing, mostly steady fps and overall a very functional and smooth gameplay experience.
Legend of Kay on the other hand is anything but smooth gameplay. Technically solid (and the framerate is smooth so there is that) the game clearly shows its age in terms of game design – questionable missions, so-so level design and strange overall gameplay choices are abundant. Nothing is game breaking or bad per se, it’s just painfully obvious that this game is two generations old.
The story is monkey business, literally. Its nicely told through cutscenes and comic panels but this is the only game I own where I gladly changed the language to my native german – the english version is just so horribly bad, badly written, blandly acted and annoying voices. The german version fares much better, half the Futurama cast is in this, Kay is voiced by the dude that voices Fry for example, which fits much better with his reworked design anyway than the whiny, girly voice of the english dub.
Devil’s Third on the other hand is voiced superbly. The story is equally silly but that is to be expected and it is silly in a good, over the top way. I daresay I actually liked the story. There are some great characters in there, the voice acting is great, the sound effects spot on (I even detected some old school sounds) and nothing stands out as bad when it comes to sound. The music especially is exceptionally well made, with some great tunes that really bring out the best in the game. That goes for both games, actually as Kay has a nice soundtrack as well.
But let’s cut to the chase: Are the games any good? Well Kay is only 25 bucks and it is absolutely worth that. It is quite long so you surely get enough value for what you are paying. It is a fun little platformer and suitable for all ages. If you want a 3d platformer for your Wii U and still think Sonic Boom sucks (which is not neccesarily true) then this might help you out^^ Devil’s Third is a very short character action game with a great multiplayer mode and very violent and sexy. But at 60 bucks it’s just too expensive.
To be honest, I had much more fun with Devil’s Third than with Kay. The reason is probably that I expected DT to suck and Kay to be great, but DT was good and Kay was good. DT is just so much fun, running around, slicing everyone in sight. And there is a very Resident Evil like storyturn in the middle of the game, something I did NOT expect but greatly appreciated. Later on you drive a jeep down a snowy mountain, driving over soldiers while shooting helicopters out of the sky. I bloody loved that sequence. Generally speaking it is quite obvious that most of the haters for DT either never played the game or only played the first few levels becuase the second half is pretty great, not only in gameplay but alos in visuals as the second half looks rather solid, visually speaking. There is even an infiltrate a warzone mission, complete with a very Wagner-esque soundtrack during that scene. As said, I did not experience a single screen tear and very few framedrops. Everyone who ever played any Assassin’s Creed game on any console will have seen much, MUCH worse! Visually it’s not that bad either, sure, not a look but not that bad either. It actually comes together quite nicely as a game.
Which is not to say that I disliked Kay, on the contrary. I like the way the game is structured, almost like a stage based Zelda game, really. Some stages are larger and have mini dungeons followed by huge boss encounters while others are small and straight forward but they are all well made… Well not all, some are bland and ugly but most of them are great. Kay also features a nice fighting system, shops, upgrades and a well thought out moveset. However, as said it still has the old gameplay problems that plagued the early PS2 games, strange design decisions and while some issues and bugs were adressed, some still remain (either that or I am too stupid to figure out how to kill those bloody hornets). I think Kay is a great game, especially for that price but I just expected it to be a bit more modern. I dont know why I did that, I know the game is just a remaster. Silly me!
So where does that leave us with those games? Well, I was pleasantly surprised by both games for different reasons. I do not regret my purchase at all but I see myself spending a bit more time with DT in the future simply because of how ridiculously fun that game is – Itagaki done right by me and I hope people jump off the hate train and start seeing the game for what it is: a fun little romp that would have been perfectly fine five years ago, it just happened to be a bit late^^
If you really must compare apples to oranges though, take the banana. Or the entire fruit basket for that matter^^
And now, the Q&A!
Q: What about the infamous blocky car in DT? Is it really that bad?
A: Yes and no. It really is that blocky BUT it is not a car! It is a transport vehicle and the overall design is blocky. So it’s not a case of buggy mess or bad LOD transistion, its a case of strangely designed vehicle taken out of context. And the context is that this vehicle, among dozen others, are part of a mission where you literally have to blow up everything, so everything is destructible^^
Q: Did they ugrade anything in Legend of Kay?
A: The character models are all redone. There are new shader effects, better lighting, reflections and other touches. Some textures are also reworked and you get a lot of options to further tweak your experience.
Q: How long is the single player mode of both games?
A: DT clocks in at around 7 hours, give or take on hour depending on your playstyle. Kay is much longer than that, mostly because of the riddle based structure and the backtracking in the levels.
Q: I heard there is pedophilia in DT. Is that true?
A: I guess you are talking about the “girlfriend” that can not age past 16, yes? Well, there is no pedophilia, she is always fully clothed and she is not the girlfriend either. It’s actually more like a father/daughter thing, at least thats what they slightly hint at. There is nothing sexually between those two.
Q: Which version of Kay is better, PS4 or Wii U?
A: They are practically identical. PS4 runs at 1080p60 and Wii U runs at 900p60 and that’s about it. Wii U does support off TV play so that’s a plus if you like that. It also supports the Pro Controler.
Q: What do those games play like?
A: DT plays more like a straight forward action game. I found it quite enjoyable to run up to some enemies and slice them in half while they try to shoot me. Sure, sometimes it is advised to take cover and go slow but mostly this is a run and slice game – I used the sword much more than any gun. So don’t play it like a cover based shoote,r because it really isn’t!
Kay plays a bit like an action adventure with platforming elements. You mostly spend your time runing around doing quest, finding items, upgrade, doing some backtracking and fighting enemies. The stages are set up in a way that exploration is platformer based so it’s not like a Zelda game for example but it has more in common with Zelda than, say Mario. Backtracking, collecting and exploration are a huge part of the game.
Q: What’s with the Anita thing at the start of the review?
A: It’s for search engines and tags, mostly, as Anita brings clicks :p
I hope you liked this double review. Full disclosure: I bought the games myself since I don’t get review copies, obviously. I finished the story mode in Devil’s Third and got very far in Legend of Kay, far enough to form an informed opinion.