Klang from developer Tinimations and publisher Snow Cannon Games is the latest Steam addition that melds action/platforming with rhythm elements – a combo that is yielding many current independent titles. Klang’s biggest hook is its incredible presentation polish, and, thankfully, it has some solid gameplay muscle to round out the package.
In essence, the game’s presentation is very similar to Playdead’s LIMBO in approach, but Klang fills its environment with vibrant colors and beats. It maintains the silent protagonist approach, but Klang introduces up-close cinematics highlighting the battles of the main character.
The game’s description states the player assumes the role of a rave warrior who fights with tuneblades against the Soundlord Sonus. While nothing entirely gets fleshed out through the storytelling, the brief cinematics keep the game flowing while doing the job of showing the player progression. The main characters that appear throughout the game are well-designed and show some personality even though they never speak, and the large, ominous characters that fill in the backgrounds look and animate impressively.
Graphically, Klang will give players a TRON-style vibe, but makes use of a full range of colors throughout the game. The bright neon colors really accent the moody environments, and, especially during the cinematics, a decent amount of detail is put into the game’s world. To keep the visuals vibrant, the game also has a number of very fluid animations, even among the surroundings to make its environments seem alive and in tune with the music.
The attention to environmental detail is critical as many of those details provide the audio-visual cues that will keep the players engrossed with the experience. The vast majority of the game’s audio is music, but, it was crafted by EDM composer bLiNd with details that create ambiance during the times players aren’t locked into battles or navigating stages.
Much like many other recent blends of the genre, Klang takes place within a game world that is influenced by and connected to its music. Predictably for the genre, this leads to several segments where players navigate environments affected by the tempo of the music, but Klang is one of a few that actually implements traditional input-based rhythm gaming mechanics into the mix.
Players can use the face buttons or right analog stick to attack/defend in eight different directions, with the timing necessary to deflect projectiles or execute an attack designated by directional gauges that surround the player. The trigger buttons also get added to the mix with scrolling circular icons that indicate when the player must slide/crouch or jump to avoid larger incoming attacks. The player character takes hits if these input commands are not properly entered in time, and too many hits will result in a death.
Some segments rely only on these input-based segments, but Klang actually does a true melding of these two gameplay styles to create very unique, very challenging multitasking gameplay. Players can encounter segments where not only do they need to focus on rhythm inputs, but also continually move left and right to avoid laser beams or jump between falling platforms.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed during some of Klang’s segments, and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of some of the input commands among Klang’s visual flair, but the majority of the time it flows very well. The combination is a test of gaming reflex that isn’t commonly found in gaming, so, despite any frustrating segments I may have encountered, I wanted back in for more punishment, and every success become more and more satisfying.
Overall, the controls accommodate the gameplay very well, as a majority of the focus is placed on timing the right analog stick or face buttons (for this game, I found the analog stick to be more natural). The character moves very quickly to keep pace with the frantic platforming gameplay, and the left trigger executes the game’s jumping. The main character can wall jump, and I had a couple of issues getting those jumps to work the way I intended, but, overall, Klang’s controls keep pace with the frantic and stylish gameplay.
An aspect I really appreciated in the game’s progression was its introduction of a new game mechanic for most of the new areas players encounter. The ways player achieved reaching the goal changed multiple times during the course of the game, testing players in a new way. Many of these mechanics came back into the fold later in the game or were combined with others during more challenging stages, serving as the deep end of the pool after players got their feet wet during the mechanics’ introductions.
While the stages rank players on how fast they can complete stages and how much damage they take, there are a handful of secrets – and at least a few achievements – that can be uncovered by straying from the main path. Players can uncover a handful of portals that lead to bonus arenas that give them a chance to unlock music tracks to listen to in-game.
The game does feature an “easy mode,” but on this difficulty, players can only achieve a max rank of B. On normal difficulty, S rank is the max, but an unlockable “nightcore” mode makes the game even more frantic, with the reward being a possible “SSS” ranking.
Once players clear the main story, there are further bonus levels that can be reached depending on the skills of the player throughout the game’s stages, adding to the replayability. This will become important in getting value out of the game, as, while it is a wild ride, the game’s description indicates the game takes two to four hours to complete.
This estimate proved accurate, as I completed the core level set on normal difficulty in just less than two hours. Even so, some of the rhythm-based levels flowed so smoothly, I replayed them just to do so, regardless of possible extra rewards. Klang is certainly one of those titles where accomplishments are very satisfying, and it should be impressive to see a player eventually flow through the nightcore mode.
Despite what could be considered a low completion time, Klang has a temporary launch price of $12, which I would say is justifiable based on the level of polish in the game. Players should definitely check out the recommended PC specs for the game, though, as I have a mid-level PC and experienced just a few hiccups along the way. The most “annoying” aspect of playing the game was Klang always reverting to fullscreen mode during transitions and then immediately snapping back to windowed mode, but this seems like something that could be feasibly patched out in the future.
Most any con with the game is minimal, as it serves as the most unique rhythm/platformer game I’ve seen in some time. The presentation sucked me in, but the gameplay challenge kept me hooked. Once the player adjusts, the flow of the game feels great, and succeeding in Klang is greatly satisfying.
Find out even more about the game on Klang’s official Steam page.
* Review copy provided by the development team or publisher