A little while back I was walking around the indie section at EGX after refusing to queue for two and a half hours to play Titanfall 2, and I stumbled across a screen just full of colour. I had discovered Klang: a game developed by Tinimations, and published by Snow Cannon Games, that is attempting to innovate traditional rhythm games. I sat down to play the demo and automatically fell in love with the game. Everything about it; the look, the audio, everything.
I knew I had to play more of it. I got home and jumped on the full version of the game, but it was surprisingly short; according to Steam I’ve spent 5 hours playing Klang. I’ve completed the game’s core campaign, and am slowly jumping into the game’s post-campaign content. But let’s delve a bit more into it and see what Klang has to offer.
Straight off the bat; those of you looking for a very story heavy rhythm platformer, Klang is not the game for you. The game does have a story, but it is very short and at times hard to understand. The game’s Steam page explains:
“In Klang, players assume the role of a tuneblade-wielding, elite rave warrior on a quest to free himself from the shackles of Soundlord Sonus.”
In terms of story that is all the game’s Steam page has to offer, and the game itself offers no further explanation of what is happening. The game opens with our little Klang, attempting to travel through a portal. As he is almost entirely through, he is pulled back and kicked away by a character who can only be described by imagining if the Greek god Zeus listened to EDM and lived in a Ancient Greek inspired Tron world. Seriously, no joke.
After this Klang is set shooting out of the tower, with other rave warriors hot on his toes seemingly hellbent on murdering him. The rest of the game sees Klang journey through the Greek Tron land with the goal of re-climbing the tower he was kicked from and entering the portal. Now many of the reviews I have read claim that the Zeus looking character is in fact Soundlord Sonus, however I don’t think this character is Sonus. The game also features an all-seeing eye that some of the rave warriors you defeat are sucked into, there is also the strange looking fellow (shown below) that appears from time to time. Either of these could be Sonus, but the player is never told. On a personal note, given the headphones he is wearing I personally feel the creature below is actually Soundlord Sonus, but I could be wrong.
Even though the game’s story is not the main focus of Klang’s experience, it is something that can become slightly frustrating at points. The game’s cutscenes feature no diagloue and so leave a vast amount of the story down to interpretation. However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There seems to be a very heavy emphasis on story in video games these days, but Klang proves that if the gameplay is good enough the lack of a story becomes irrelevant. The game’s gameplay and it’s soundtrack far outshine the game’s story. There were points while playing where I would be watching a cutscene and I would be thinking to myself “Just give me the next level”. Despite the story taking a very major backseat, it does get some points for allowing Klang to exist and be a game.
Klang’s gameplay is beautiful in it’s execution. At it’s core it is so simple, easy to pick up and play. But do not for one second assume that Klang is easy. It will require a lot of trial and error, and if you’re like me even a rage quit or two. The game’s controls are very easy to pick up. I played with a mouse and keyboard. A and D moved left and right, W jumps and S slides. The four arrow keys are used to attack when the relevant arrow enters your cone of action (I don’t know how else to explain it). Sometimes you have to combine arrow keys to hit diagonal attacks. Sometimes you have to jump to avoid attacks. Sometimes you have to slide. It’s that simple.
Attacks come from enemies, and are symbolised by see-through cones on the corresponding side of Klang. For example, attacks coming from the enemy on the left hand side of Klang will be represented by a cone on the left hand side of Klang. It’s a very simple system that works excellently and so the game’s creators decide to assault you with attacks and obstacles in an attempt to overwhelm you and therefore make the gameplay difficult. This can sometimes become an issue though. At points in my time playing the game, I would find that the explosions of colour that come from successfully deflecting an enemy attack would block my view of the direction of the next attack leading to my death. This would mean me having to repeat the process again from the last checkpoint, and would sometimes lead to me attempting to memorise the pattern because it was extremely difficult to see on the fly.
The gameplay does execute one thing absolutely perfectly however and that is the mechanics for each areas boss. Each area has it’s own gimmick of sorts. Whether it be robots who’s attacks becomes platforms that disappear after a short period of time, or having to attack a terminal to turn off a barrier protecting an enemy, you can guarantee that that mechanic will be key to defeating the next boss. If you don’t manage to perfect how that mechanic works, you can guarantee that the next boss will be difficult to defeat.
Klang’s core gameplay may consist of two tried and tested methods from the world of gaming, but what it creates feels fresh. The combination of classic platforming mixed with the rhythm gameplay elements create a new experience that you will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Audio is important to any game, but given that it is a rhythm based game it is even more important to Klang. Luckily the game delivers. Klang features an absolutely awesome soundtrack courtesy of musical veteran bLiNd. bLiNd has been producing video game music for nearly 20 years. In this time he has produced 2 full video game soundtracks (with Klang being his second soundtrack), as well as performing at MAGfest 11 and 12. In short, bLiNd is very experienced; and it shows. The soundtrack to Klang is brilliant (if you want to check out out the Klang soundtrack on Soundcloud click here), and matches the feel of the game flawlessly. The music puts you in a trance, and you wont’t even realise you’ve been playing for 2 hours and bopping your head along the whole time.
The graphics of a game are obviously the first thing gamers notice in a new game, and as such are normally the player’s first impression of the game. When you first see Klang you will immediately notice the game’s art style. As I said earlier the game has a very Greek/Tron/EDM look to it, and it will immediately catch your eye. The levels are beautifully crafted, the cutscenes are gorgeous. The graphics will assault your senses with flashes of colours and leave you longing for more.
Klang is a beautiful game with an amazing soundtrack that, while it lacks a story, will leave you desperate to play more. The gameplay is simple in its execution, but with some challenging mechanics Klang never starts to feel dry. I highly recommend the game. I really loved it and had a lovely time playing it. My 5 hours with the game came from a 3 hour session and a 2 hour session, so make sure you have no plans when you play Klang.