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Kivi’s Underworld Review

Kivi’s Underworld pack shot
Developer:Soldak Entertainment, Inc.
Publisher:Soldak Entertainment, Inc.
Genre:Hack n' Slash
Platform:PC
Official Site:http://www.soldak.com/Kivis-Underworld/Overview.html
Release Date:November 3rd, 2008 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

If you like scrolling, top-down adventure games, you're going to love this. From the desks of Soldak, the intrepid crew behind Depths of Peril, Kivi's Underworld is a quest-doing, dungeon-exploring adventure game, which will keep you coming back time and time again.

The story is simple- while out mining a group of near-humans (Lumens) discovers a secret portal which will release all kinds of evil and skulduggery into the world. The evil creatures spew forth, killing most of the exploring party and leaving only our hero Kivi alive to tell the tale.

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The rest of the story revolves mainly around Kivi trying to put a lid on the evil's advances, while hacking his way through innumerate dungeons, abandoned cities and fiery pits of hell.

While the plot of Kivi's Underworld is hardly overwhelming, it is enough to keep you going and kept me coming back for just another few levels of the dungeon, even when there were more 'advanced' games waiting to be played elsewhere.

Like Depths of Peril, Kivi's Underworld plays from an isometric perspective, rendering humans and skeletons alike in a bit of an odd angle, but not one that adventure game die-hards won't be familiar with.

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Graphically the game is nothing spectacular, but the environments are rendered nicely, with the detail on the characters and environment standing themselves out from the usual slew of adventure games.

During the adventure, Kivi and friends will tramp their way through snowy dungeons, poison-filled hell holes and caves wreathed in flames, and all of them are filled with traps and dead ends, making the fight to move down to the next level even more intense, especially when Kivi et al can't go back up once they make the descent.

Unlike Depths of Peril, however, Underworld only allows one player to be traversing the dungeon at any one point, although there is a whole list of characters who can be added to Kivi's list of friends.

Also, the Depths of Peril item management system makes a return; with a whole host of magical items and weapons being up for grabs in the darkness, as well as a tonne of handy powerups for the occasional time your character might be a bit out of his or her depth.

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There is also little or no evidence of the clan system which worked so well in Depths of Peril, as Kivi's Underworld seems to be centred more on one-on-one combat rather than alliances and intrigue, not that this is a bad thing.

The main thrust of the game is all about combat. Kivi and co. have to hack and slash their way through reams of enemies, barrels full of goodies, secret walls and pitfalls to keep the story going, though if you're prone to repetitive strain disorder, I'd buy one of those ergonomic mouse mats first- pressing the left trigger so much starts to grate your bones after a while.

Though the combat is simple, it's a lot of fun to spend your time hacking through legions of the undead, even if it is all to get to a pot of magic ointment at the other end of the room.

Control-wise it's all about the mouse. Moving the mouse to one side of the screen makes your character move to that location, and pressing the mouse buttons triggers an attack in the direction the mouse is pointed.

While this allows for a trouble-free interface with the game, it would have been much easier to map the movement controls to WASD, rather than the mouse, as the double control system can be a bit awkward when all you want to do is get out of the dungeon in a hurry.

Summary

Overall, Kivi's Underworld is another solid adventure title, which builds nicely on the groundwork set by Depths of Peril. Although it is lacking in (ironically) depth, when compared to the previous game, it more than makes up for it with a streamlined combat system, which is sadly let down by slightly dodgy controls.

The bottom line
7.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Lots of levels
  • Lots of Items
  • Lots of characters

Not so good stuff

  • Dodgy controls
  • Could be repetitive
  • Weak storyline


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