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Kunai review – not the greatest Metroidvania, but a good reminder of what makes Metroidvanias great

Don’t judge this on its premise alone. Kunai, which has just come out on PC and console, is a cutesy Metroidvania with a knowingly primitive palette and pixel art style. You’d be forgiven for falling asleep halfway through that sentence – I had to have a little nap myself as soon I typed that dreaded M word – but Kunai deserves more than that. Judge it by its toys and then you’ve got something worth paying attention to.

These things are exquisite. Kunai’s been a staple of showfloors for a while, perhaps because it’s one of those rarer Metroidvanias that acquits itself well to short, sharp bursts of play, thanks mainly to how good it feels second-to-second in the hand. And for that you can thank those kunai, wisely put in your hands in the opening minutes of this short adventure, that give the exploration here a flavour of its own.

Because here these kunai are effectively grappling hooks, and what game hasn’t been improved by a good grappling hook? Kunai’s even better because it effectively gives you two, with one in each hand allowing you to grab on to scenery and catapult yourself to higher ground, or simply to swing one hook at a time to get behind a pesky enemy. Combine that with a katana that can deflect bullets and you’ve got quite the moveset in those opening moments, and one that only opens up as you move on.

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