It’s remarkable how easy it is to see the effects of developers’ true passion when playing a video game. In Kraino Origins, the product of A Man, Angel Dorantes, you can feel how much the developer appreciates classic retro platforming. Even better, it turns out he clearly understands what made the classics so great; Kraino Origins is a good weather.
You assume the role of the titular skeleton and are tasked with traversing eight levels of spooky and terrifying action. The game takes the form of a typical retro action platformer, and Kraino clearly draws inspiration from many classics. There’s a bit of Mega Man here, a bit more of Castlevania, a bit of Super Mario Bros. 3, but Kraino doesn’t feel too derivative of those titles, thanks in large part to its excellent level design. Each level is thematically distinct and features unique level tricks, such as conveyor belts or floating leaves, which slowly become more difficult challenges over the course of the storyline.
Tight mechanics and challenging level design make the game perfectly balanced; Kraino is definitely not child’s play, but being persistent in learning stages and boss models will surely lead you to victory. And if you die, Kraino borrows the death system from Shovel Knight: a flying bag of gold is left where you died, and you can respawn at the last checkpoint and the bag disappears if you die again before you die. reach this point. .
To help reduce the difficulty, there are permanent power-ups hidden in each stage to increase your health and mana reserves, as well as a hidden vendor who can sell you a new secondary weapon to give you more versatility when facing down. to enemies. If you really want to push yourself, each level also has a separate, shorter bonus stage with no checkpoints that really tests your understanding and ability to handle the level’s tricks. If you manage to go all the way, you’ll receive a magic skull which will be used to upgrade one of your secondary weapons, granting you buffs like the ability to shoot fireballs through walls or imbue your throwing ax from a freezing effect. .
We were very impressed with the gameplay quality of Kraino, but the only downside here is that the runtime might be too short for some. Completing all eight levels, plus the challenge levels, should only take you around three hours, five if you take it slow and die a lot. Games don’t have to be long to be worth it, but those who insist on more content might be disappointed.
As for its presentation, Kraino sticks to a simple 8-bit visual style that takes a lot of modern liberties. The color palettes are vibrant and the sprite work is well done, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. The same could be said for the chiptune soundtrack, which provides a spooky and upbeat vibe, though not very memorable.
It could be over in a heartbeat, but Kraino Origins turns out to be a well-crafted old-school action platformer that’s deeply fun while it lasts. If you’re looking for a short and affordable entry into the genre, this is definitely the one we recommend.