Block Party

HIGH Multiplayer races are turbulent goodness.

LOW Some minigolf holes are infuriating.

WTF Gosh, my eyes hurt after playing for a while.

For fans of the underserved ‘geometry-based platformer where people play as different shapes while feeling like they’re at a rave‘ genre, I’m happy to say that Kinetic Edge is now here, courtesy of SCT.

Akin to a distant relative of something like the recent multiplayer sensation Fall Guys, Kinetic Edge sees players racing, traversing mazes, and even golfing in a futuristic setting complete with pulsating music and vibrant neon lights. While there are some design choices that could be streamlined, core gameplay is extraordinarily strong and has potential to be an online multiplayer triumph.

The conceit of Kinetic Edge is that a player will control one of eight different shapes through five types of minigames from a third-person perspective. Controls are straightforward — use two mid-air jumps and two dashes to get from point A to point B.

Once a player is used to the physics, movement feels exceedingly free and engaging. Mastering motion involves understanding how the various controllable shapes interact with obstacles on the course and finding the most efficient way to bounce off the environment to maintain momentum. 

While there are eight different shapes to choose ranging from triangles to cylinders, the simple sphere was my most used. I rarely found its variance to be much of a factor, as I could continually jump to maintain movement in a straight line. Mid-match shape changes are forced on players, and while I can appreciate the concept, it could be more fleshed out. At the moment, it just feels like the developers tossing a wrench into someone’s groove, but not in a good way.

SCT certainly made a strong choice with Kinetic Edge’s presentation. The robust neon lights explode off the screen, and combined with the futuristic club-inspired music, it’s a cacophony of stimuli and a strong design choice for the most part. On the other hand, it can be sensory overload. Even with my glasses on and my screen’s brightness diminished, my eyes would feel a bit strained after longer play sessions. Also, I would not recommend this game to anyone prone to seizures.

Out of the five game modes available, races are Kinetic Edge’s forte. They are chaotic, require precise platforming, and are awesome to play with friends. There are a variety of different courses to choose from, all of which test your skills in slightly different ways — some require gathering momentum for a drag race, some are about climbing vertically, and one forces shape changes every few platforms. In most scenarios there is a straightforward path, but with well-timed momentum boosts and an understanding of the physics, platforms can be skipped entirely.

Races can be practiced alone, but online multiplayer is where Kinetic Edge comes alive as each level introduces the concept of bouncing and blasting off opponents to increase momentum while hindering theirs.

The races, however, are not perfect. I would sometimes find myself paralyzed at times waiting for a platform to reach me before I could progress, and I would have preferred a way around these slow moments — perhaps a high-risk shortcut that requires extremely precise platforming. Also, checkpoints on longer courses are few and far between. Not necessarily a bad thing, but one’s chances are doomed by just one small mistake.

Kinetic Edge‘s other modes are amusing, but not quite as interesting as races.

Maze mode pits players against each other in a series of winding labyrinths, and arena mode is a contest to stay on a platform longer than the opponents. However, I did not find the minigolf stages to be on par (pun intended!) with the rest of the game.

The mode will be familiar to anyone who’s played a videogame golf title in recent years — aim trajectory, achieve solid timing on a power bar, and try to shoot the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. However, there is no way to zoom out or change view during a hole, so it’s often difficult to tell where the hole is on longer levels.

I also found myself getting stuck behind large scenery pieces at times, and worst of all, some shots must be so precise that there is zero room for failure — it can get frustrating. In a larger sense, the slower pace of golf compared to the high-octane atmosphere the rest of the game establishes made it feel somewhat out of place.

Minigolf aside, Kinetic Edge offers a highly enjoyable package. The online races are a blast, and while the other modes don’t quite have the same lasting appeal, they’re still solid party game options. From any perspective, Kinetic Edge is a great multiplayer effort that is both stylish and rewarding to master.

Rating: 7 out of 10

— Alex Prakken

Disclosures: This game was developed and published by SCT, the code used for this review was obtained from the publisher, and is available exclusively on PC. Three hours of gameplay were spent in single player offline, and three hours in online multiplayer.

Parents: No ESRB rating was available for this game at the time of review, but I find nothing objectionable in it, so there’s no reason this game would not be suitable for gamers of all ages.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no dialogue in this game — all you need to know is written in text on screen. Text cannot be altered or resized. Sound is not vital for gameplay, making it fully accessible. 

Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable, though you can play on both mouse and keyboard, or a controller. 

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