Metroid/Pet Droid: K.O.L.M.

By Alec Meer on January 4th, 2011 at 6:20 pm.

Kieron prophesised that the platformer renaissance was likely drawing to a close in his Super Meatboy thought-thunk just before Christmas, but while I suspect he’s on the money in terms of breakout, mainstream-bothering hits, I don’t think platforming’s going anywhere when it comes to small, experimental games. Running, jumping and optionally shooting/thumping remains an incredibly simple and most of all effective framework for toying with other ideas, especially in terms of narrative and aesthetics. The systems are straightforward and accessible, the development time and cost is low – you just can’t have that kind of efficiency at a small scale with pretty much any other genre.

Which brings me to Armor Games’ K.O.L.M., a game nominally about the running and the jumping, but actually about something else.

We’re back in the wee land of browser-based Flash games, which is precisely why the visual trickery on show is so impressive. It’s all in the camera – slightly shifting 2D screens, fuzzy blurovision to denote impaired robo-sight, and playability (what an ugly word, sorry) retained even at minute zoom-out. Most every screen in the game offers some mildly disorientating change from the last, which makes the Metroid-esque backtrack’n'upgrade structure all the more compelling.

It’s dreamlike and unpressured for the most part too, a world away from yer VVVVVVVs and Meat Boys. This is a game about piecing together the correct order of travel (via the narrative device of piecing a broken robot back together), not pushing your reflexes and spatial awareness to inhuman levels.

Throw in a little bit of narrative GlaDOSiness, some sinisterly calm music and an elegant control scheme, and you’re onto a very smart gamette. Thanks to CMaster for the tip – and also for offering the advice that it’s perhaps best to not head to the ultimate exit until prompted to do so.

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26 Comments »

  1. Handsome Dead says:

    “HEY PORTAL WAS A REAL GOOD GAME YOU GUYS” – K.O.L.M. Developer

    • Alec Meer says:

      “Hey having some similar qualities to another game isn’t the same as being a rip-off you guys” – Sensible RPS Commenter

    • Rich says:

      Didn’t you realise Valve invented jumping Alec?
      Not just in games. In real life too. I know I couldn’t jump before Portal came out.

    • CMaster says:

      Portal was far from the first game to do guiding-figure-who-is-actually-against-and-seemed-a-bit-sinister-all-along. I actually liked that in this one, Mother was never guiding – in fact, she often discouraged you. I though it was a pleasant contrast to the first Shift, advertised in the loading screen for KOLM (brilliant game, the sequels however threw in so many mechanics I couldn’t be bothered with them), which despite the initial suggestion it might go its own way, ends up just literally doing Portal, but with more failed attempts at humour.

    • Bret says:

      Yeah. I mean, at minimum, there’s SHODAN. And, for that matter, Durandal.

      Well, to be fair Durandal seemed to like the player character, in his asshole way, and help slightly more often than not, but I figure threats to teleport you into space, kidnapping, and giving his own theme song rather than helpful advice counts enough for present purposes.

  2. Azeltir says:

    How many ‘V’s is that there?

    • RagingLion says:

      Must be referencing the new expanded version with added content.

    • man-eater chimp says:

      It’s a ‘hold down shift, close your eyes and press V for an indeterminate amount of time’ number of V’s!

    • Rich says:

      I must have missed VVVVVVI, VVVVVVII, VVVVVVIII and VVVVVVIV?

  3. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    Maybe Smelly Kieron meant it in the sense of a critical mass of commenters saying ‘oh goooood not ANOTHER bleedin platformer’.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      It’s super lovely to play, though!
      It’s awfully similar to tonnes of other ones, though.

    • CMaster says:

      @AndrewC
      I agree. I was just charmed by the aesthetics of the thing really, which is why I forwarded it on to RPS. Also, I sent the tip in while about 60% of the way through, at 2:00 in the morning in broken English. As I was only part way through, I was hoping for a little more from the story – the reference to fratricide early on offered a hint of tragedy that was never really delivered on.

  4. 8-bit says:

    well I know being a metroid style game I should have seen it coming but I wasn’t expecting that ending to come when it did, I only got 93% items I wanted to go back for the rest. combat is a bit rubbish since I found it was easier and quicker to just let enemies kill me to clear a path, but otherwise a good game.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I didn’t think I intended this as a reply to you… Oh well.

      I was awarded a fearsome -40pts at the end, mainly because I just let enemies kill me.

      This is only the second time that RPS has thought that I was posting too quickly. Jeez. I went away and played the whole game before commenting and it took me an hour (didn’t realise you could shoot up, went back looking for things).

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Got all the items and a final score of -3500. Profound, I’m sure.

  5. Jsnuk says:

    I don’t like metroidvania games, sorry :(

  6. Tei says:

    I got stuck. Probably skipped some important screen or something. Do these 1box passages are supposed to be passable?

  7. snitchy says:

    I liked the organic cave-like environment, but that meant that there were a lot of dead ends that had no purpose – not even a letter tile, just an empty space guarded by some enemies. I also fell out of the game at one point. Just plummeted underneath the level into the void and I thought it was cool how the camera kept following you into oblivion.

  8. Zyrxil says:

    SPOILERS

    I didn’t like the ending too much- not because it was ‘bad’, but it wasn’t creepy enough. They could’ve ended it by having you falling apart piece by piece as you try to escape, ending up with you in the state the game began in, as Mother wipes your memory and tries again in an unending cycle. I also just used ‘end’ 4 times in two sentences, and the Sentence Police are pounding down my door right now.

  9. inertia says:

    I wish I was a robot. They lead such interesting lives.

  10. a.simons613 says:

    Stuck at 46%. I must have done something wrong.
    Good game, though.

  11. JackShandy says:

    You’ll please me more when you’re complete :)

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