It seems like buddy-platformers are still in style after all these years. Although Kick & Fennick continues this tradition by teaming up a kid with a robot pal, it won't fail to impress with its unique and challenging gameplay mechanics.
You play as Kick who wakes up from a cryogenic sleep to a mostly desolate world. He is immediately introduced to a flying robot named Fennick who seems to be broken and on his last legs (even though he doesn't have any). Kick decides to adventure with the little robot chum in order to obtain a part that will make Fennick feel like the day he came fresh out of the factory. Along the way, the two will face many small sentinel robots and a large persistent one that you'll confront in a handful of boss encounters throughout the journey.
Kick & Fennick looks fantastic with bright colours and smoothly animated characters. Kick interacts with Fennick in the various voiceless cutscenes beautifully since you witness their relationship grow the more they travel together. It's incredibly charming and establishes heart in an otherwise bleak world. As the journey progresses, you'll notice how the day gradually turns to night which is a subtle effect that adds a layer of authenticity to your adventure. The featured music is great as it highlights emotional and action-intense portions wonderfully but it's quite disappointing that the music only plays during these moments. Instead, you play in mostly silence with only sound effects and Fennick's robo-chatter to accompany you.
What makes Kick & Fennick unique is its clever platforming gameplay. Kick can only run left and right on his own but he acquires a large gun that allows him to launch himself into the air with its powerful recoil. Of course you can also shoot enemies with it but you'll mainly use it for jumping. As you aim at a surface to launch from or at an enemy to shoot, time slows down so you can execute your move more accurately. The two skills that you'll need to master in order to succeed are precision and timing. If you're the kind of gamer who lacks these skills and has little patience then Kick & Fennick may be a frustrating endeavour. However, if you are skilled and have the patience to learn and adapt then you'll find their journey to be one of the most rewarding platforming experiences you've ever had.
The campaign is quite long for platformer standards as it will take you at least a few hours to complete. Even after you finish it, you can replay stages on harder difficulties and acquire more collectables which will end up adding hours to your quest for perfection (if you're inclined to accomplish such undertakings). The difficulty not only effects how much damage you receive but also the aiming apparatus. The easiest difficulty will show your trajectory as you aim while the harder difficulty merely shows a simple arrow. Because of this, you'll gladly play on the harder difficulty if you're up for the challenge but wouldn't mind lowering it if you find yourself unable to progress.
Kick & Fennick simply excels at level design. Although the core gameplay remains almost unchanged from start to finish, the stages become increasingly more complex. New features are introduced such as conveyor belts, bounce pads, and warps as well as underwater segments and a power-up that makes your gun propel you even further. The stages consistently adapt to complement these new features perfectly. Near the end of the game, you'll be amazed as the stages go from slow-paced and simple to ones where you soar through the air while warping and bouncing off walls at lightning speed. It's quite rewarding to observe how much your skills will grow.
Just because Kick & Fennick offers a satisfying challenge, that doesn't mean you won't get frustrated. Some portions require way too accurate timing and precision and can therefore be overwhelmingly difficult to navigate. Once you manage to pass these sections, you'll feel an immediate sense of accomplishment. However, that feeling quickly turns to despair if you later get a game over and have to start that stage again from the beginning. The pinnacle of this occurs in the penultimate boss encounter where you must string together an extremely long sequence of perfectly precise jumps in order to outrun the boss. If you mess up once then you must start the entire sequence again. It will definitely test your patience so make sure you're prepared before you start your journey.
Kick & Fennick is an incredibly unique platformer with a couple of lovable characters who will compel you to join them on their arduous adventure. Even though you'll probably slam your console down in a fit of rage from time to time, the sense of accomplishment for completing this intensely challenging experience will make your expedition well worth every minute.
- + Unique platforming gameplay concept
- + Lengthy campaign with rewarding replay incentives and awesome level design
- + Charming graphics and character animations
- - Situations that require perfect timing and precision can be intensely frustrating
- - Music only plays sometimes