Remasters are the new norm this generation mainly due to the lack of complete backward compatibility on the two major platforms. While Xbox One users can enjoy their old catalog, those who have bought a PS4 or Nintendo Switch are out of luck and this is where the interest in a remaster comes from, although it is still a mixed result overall because you have to buy these games again to relinquish nostalgic memories.
Legend of Kay is a PS2 classic adventure game that released back during the height of the platformer craze with games like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot taking the spotlight. The game is clearly inspired from the Zelda series back when it released for the Nintendo GameCube and considering how it was exclusive to Nintendo platforms, this made it a good opportunity for the developers to release it on the PS2.
Despite having ‘legend’ in the title, the story in the game is actually fairly grounded and there are not enough stakes here to elevate it to a world-saving adventure. It takes place on an Island where different anthropomorphic tribes are living in peace until the rats and gorillas decide to form an alliance and take control of most of the Island. Kay has to save his master’s fighting school once it comes under threat from the alliance and sets on course to fight against the tyrants. The story progresses through static comic panels with some lovely artwork so you can at least look forward to it.
Legend of Kay fails in the story department but the gameplay is actually pretty solid. You control Kay, who is a feline cat that is learning martial arts from his master. You can use Kay to jump and grab objects, swing from ropes, ride on boars and use your weapons to knock out enemies. Kay will start with no weapon but you will be soon given one after the prologue as your master will teach you the ancient moves in martial arts. The combat is actually pretty solid with a combo system that lets you mix and match attacks.
The bigger problem with Kay is that it feels like a relic of its time. The writing is quite weak and the quests given by the game are terrible requiring you to basically fetch items or do a number of tasks that are repetitive. As much as I loved the combat system, I wanted to quit the game midway because of the terrible progression system. Kay will be helping out citizens during the course of the main story with tasks that will need you to travel back and forth in multiple locations just to fulfill a checklist. The dialogue spoken by the villagers is also extremely cheesy which doesn’t really help here and the rewards are usually terrible.
So the story is barely serviceable and the quests are bad enough, but what about the combat system? This is where I feel like the game truly shines. Combat is actually quite entertaining in the game and requires you to use different moves to take down your foes. Blocking and dodging are all present while you can combo the enemies with a variety of weapons that are acquired later in the game. Each weapon carries its own distinct combo system which sets them apart from the rest, and it makes the combat feel less stale since you are not just stuck with a single weapon.
You would think that as a game that relies on third-person camera, at least the developers would have tried their best to make it somewhat competent enough to handle. This is something that the game fails badly since it is a constant struggle to control the camera. If you couple that with wonky controls that make platforming harder than it actually is, and you have a recipe for disaster at hand. The combat is still good but the camera starts to act up during moments when you are fighting against multiple enemies, making it harder to land attacks on them while keeping track of their moves.
This is an average remaster and port for the Nintendo Switch. The performance is as expected whether you play it in portable or the docked mode but the visuals have aged terribly. This still looks like a PS2 game at best even though it is a remaster. The general look of the game is rather blurry but it was disappointing to see that shimmering on objects was still present despite such awful image quality.
Legend of Kay Anniversary Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: 10 years after its initial release, Legend of Kay - Anniversary is a thoroughly remastered version of the original game: high-resolution textures; new, more detailed character models; modern rendering techniques and crystal-clear surround sound give this great classic a new shine.
If you are in the market for a good action adventure game, Legend of Kay is sadly not going to meet your expectations. It is a decent game that has aged terribly and the efforts to remaster it haven't really brought it up to the current generation standards.