Kinetic Edge is a game that immediately gives me Marble Madness vibes. In case you’re not familiar, it’s that arcade game that many knew as an NES title from the 80s. You know, the one where you have to control a marble around several obstacle courses. Marble Madness is a great game, and still holds up today. It would have benefited greatly from having some sort of multiplayer component, and while Kinetic Edge isn’t the first to take an idea that’s similar to Marble Madness and add multiplayer to it, Kinetic Edge is unique for liberal use of neon lights and reflective surfaces–but there’s not much substance to its style.
Kinetic Edge is a type of racing platformer in which you navigate through obstacle courses as various geometric shapes. Your default shape is a circle, but you can choose to play from various other geometric shapes–like a pyramid, cube, cylinder, hexagon, etc. with all of the challenges those non-spheroid shapes might pose. Most of these objects roll–and the rounder they are, the easier that rolling is. Some objects are harder to roll, and others slide as often as they roll–like the hexagon (which is essentially a six-sided flat disc) and the pyramid. I was hoping that these different shapes would add a bit of silliness to Kinetic Edge’s control, but that’s not really the case. Kinetic Edge suffers from an uninteresting physics and movement system.
While the concept has turned over a barrel of nostalgia for me, Kinetic Edge isn’t quite Marble Madness. In fact, I’d probably say the gameplay feels like a dash of Marble Madness along with a massive heap of Fall Guys. But while it certainly invokes both of those games, it doesn’t quite live up to either. Marble Madness, and similar games, has a heavier feel to it. You can’t quite stop your marble as easily as you can stop your shape in Kinetic Edge. And while the various obstacle courses have some similarities to Fall Guys, the levels aren’t quite as polished or well made. So while it certainly reminds me of both of those games, it isn’t nearly as fun as either. And a lot of that has to do with the level design, where some are confusing, and obstacles can be more annoying than fun.
Kinetic Edge has multiple game modes. Race is the default mode, and can be played solo or in multiplayer. In race mode, you can dash, double jump and do a burst attack that can push other players off of the platforms. There are various checkpoints to reach, and if you fall or are knocked off you respawn at the last checkpoint you reached. There is also a gauntlet mode that is similar to race, but there are no respawns–if you fail, you start back at the beginning. There is also a mode that features three mazes to navigate through, and even a golf mode. Golf is surprisingly fun, and probably my favorite part of Kinetic Edge–but there are other multiplayer golf games that do it better.
While you can play Kinetic Edge on a mouse and keyboard, playing with a controller felt more natural to me. Unfortunately, controllers are only partially supported, and there are some menus that you can’t navigate with them–forcing you to make selections with the mouse and keyboard. The menus that you can navigate are frustrating because the visual indicator of your selection is hard to see–it’s a dotted line that is barely visible. There is also no option to invert Y, something that I find egregious in a modern video game.
Kinetic Edge is a flashy game–but it’s also not a very good one. And while it’s fine and fun as a party game, it feels unfinished. The various courses are imaginative, but they can be confusing and frustrating to navigate. Using different shapes doesn’t affect the gameplay as much as I would have hoped,since most pieces easily slide around anyways. Kinetic Edge has the most potential for fun with a group of friends, but there are other and better options for your party game fix.
Kinetic Edge is available today on Steam.
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