By Chris Picone, 08 September 2022
Kraino Origins is as much a pleasure to play as it is to look at; instantly one of my favourite platformers and a real tribute to the golden era of platformers it harks back to. Reasonably small; the Steam page advertises 8 levels but there are also “challenge levels” so the real number’s roughly double that. Each stage features at least four hidden rooms and a boss – sometimes two. It’s a challenging game (but never frustrating) and you’ll die a lot so there’s plenty of playtime here.
I wish I knew more about art so I could write a better description than, “damn, those are some sexy pixels.” Invokes the retro pixel aesthetic it’s aiming for perfectly, while being clean and super detailed in a way that only modern games can be. Everything’s detailed; the characters, the background, the items, it’s all gorgeous. There are lots of purples, greens and burnt oranges, creating a nice ‘spooky’ vibe but it very much has its own style. Kraino himself looks stylish as hell with his top hat, scythe, and some wicked power poses.
Very similar to most platformer controls: Jump (but no double jump) and basic attack work as expected; holding up lets you spin your scythe in a circle which can be useful for deflecting enemy ranged attacks. You can jump while slashing beneath you, which also makes you bounce for some reason – great for reaching secrets in high places and surprisingly effective against most bosses. Every level is substantially different to the last, with totally different background art, platforms, traps, and monsters. At no point does it feel repetitive. The differences are often subtle; on one level some platforms crumble, on others spears thrust out and recede on a timer, on another the spears are triggered when you step on them – block by block – while on another the whole platform covers itself in brambles at your touch. There are floating and falling platforms, wall spikes, holes in the floor; every retro platformer trap you can think of seems to feature at some point in the game but is perfectly integrated with the level it appears on. The monsters range similarly; zombies, skeleton archers, gargoyles, werewolves, poison spitting frogs, bats, demons, rock monsters: There’s incredible variety in appearance, movement, and attack styles. And I don’t want to give too much more away so I’ll just finish off by saying the boss fights are awesome.
I absolutely loved it and I’m sure any platformer fan out there, whether they’re retro fans or otherwise, will enjoy it too. If you’re a platformer fan, don’t miss this one.