Not that fantastic...
I was a little late to the 360 party, but when I finally bought one I was intrigued by the critical acclaim its launch title, Kameo, was receiving. A fantasy adventure game featuring an elf with the ability to transform into several different creatures, Kameo wasn’t really anything new. The game was very pretty, I’ll admit, but the concept didn’t strike me as something particularly awesome per se. Regardless, I decided to pick it up and see just what I could be missing. But now that I’ve bought the game and finished it at last, I’m still just as confused as to why Kameo has been hyped so much.
The story plays out much like a fairy tale. The elfin girl Kameo has been gifted with the Element of Power, enabling her to transform into the fabled elemental warriors. Sister Kalus’s jealousy takes the better of her, and in an envious fit she runs away from the family and awakens the evil troll king, Thorn, who promises to help her take back the Element of Power for herself. It’s up to Kameo to put a stop to Kalus and Thorn quickly, else the Kingdom of Solon may fall to the trolls forever.
You play the role of Kameo, and your real goal within the game basically lies in saving your relatives from the hands of the troll army and discovering each of the ten elemental warriors before you tackle Thorn. Each of the elemental warriors has a few techniques you can use in order to take out bad guys and progress through the game, which include spitting fire, rolling up ramps and over crevices, exploring underwater and a whole bunch of others whose level of awesome varies from cool to… not so cool. The way the game works is you’ll enter a new room and encounter a puzzle, and then will have to figure out which of your warriors is best suited to that puzzle, which techniques will work and which won’t in order to progress to the next area.
Starting the game, I found the first level felt very tight. Kameo begins with three elemental warriors to learn the ropes with as you scale a troll castle. One warrior will be useful in combat against the trolls as well as sneaking under small gaps. Another is able to roll up into a ball to launch himself from one platform to another, while the third can climb giant ice walls and throw spears at far away targets. The game does a nice job of showing the player how to string together the techniques of two or more different warriors, for example launching yourself off a ramp then changing in midair to grip onto an ice wall. Together with some brilliant graphics, lighting and cutscenes and fantastic orchestrated soundtrack, this felt like a great introduction to the game and I was psyched to see what was up next.
Unfortunately everything after this point took a turn for the worse. It felt rather weird after getting used to the controls of the elemental warriors in the first level, then having the designers decide to strip me of them again and make me work to get them back. The game starts teaching you stuff you already know, and the difficulty level drops right down to the point where everything is mind numbingly easy. It feels like a real slap in the face, seeing as you proved your skills in the first level and now everything is being force fed to you. The sad thing is, the difficulty doesn’t really reach the level of the stuff you were doing in the original castle level until you’re well over half way through the game.
Each time you find a new elemental warrior, the game introduces a few new puzzles for you to tackle with that warrior’s abilities. Problem here is, these puzzles are so ridiculously simple that the game gets very boring very fast. One warrior allows you to breathe fire, but don’t expect much more from him than lighting torches and melting ice. Some of the other elemental warriors feel even more useless, as you’ll use them for one or two select situations before forgetting about them forever. It’s really troubling, because there’s just so much potential to incorporate decent puzzles for all these techniques which has been wasted on gameplay that would barely challenge a six year old.
There’s not much left to say about Kameo. With some really nice visuals, sound and easy-to-learn controls, it might be something to entertain the young ‘uns with. But with an adventure mode spanning a mere ten hours with no real challenging gameplay packed into it, don’t jump into the same situation as myself expecting too much. Rent it and see if you must.