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Shellie - ShelliePancake

5 May 2023

Kaku: Ancient Seal

Kaku: Ancient Seal is a wholesome adventure game published and developed by Bingobell. You play as Kaku, a spirited young boy with a sense of adventure and a willingness to throw himself into the path of trouble, all in the name of fulfilling his destiny.

You start your story off in the middle of a wintery, cliffside wilderness chasing down a little pink pig while a huge boar also chases you down. The intro initially reminded me a little of Ice Age, with the little pig providing elements of comedy, much like the squirrel in the movie. You start the game being gently scolded by an old Geezer, who helps walk you through the game and directs you on what to do next. You begin by picking flora throughout the map to cook him a meal - teaching you the cooking elements of the game to assist with healing and teaching you how to deal with the varying enemies through the game. Seemingly your initial goal is to catch this little pink piglet as you chase him down intermittently throughout varying lands. Still, the game delves deeper as you uncover secrets through crumbling temples. You discover that it is your destiny to bring peace and balance throughout the lands by defeating the elemental lords.


The gameplay is better played with a controller as a platform puzzle game. I found myself using a keyboard and mouse and dying in the boss fights because I would hit the wrong buttons and kept trying to jump out of the way of special attacks rather than dodging, as using the spacebar felt more natural on a keyboard. I played on normal, and the enemy difficulty felt balanced - my clumsiness on a keyboard aside. The boss fights have an element of puzzle to them as well, and you need to adjust quickly to their attack cycles. I found I had just adapted to one boss, only to have him change up and introduce a new move halfway through, forcing me to change my attack style on the fly. Moving around the map is fun and reminiscent of the platform-puzzle games of the 90s. I got flashbacks of Spyro and Banjo Kazooie during many points. And when you find your first temple trial, it gives serious Zelda vibes - and I’m here for it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzles and exploring the maps. I am a huge loot goblin gamer, and the constant hunt for gems, plants and ore kept me squirrelling around in hidden corners of the maps. The levelling up and skill learning is relatively simple - collect items around the map, find a totem pole, and spend the items you’ve collected to skill up. Different totems level up different skills - One may level up your Health and Stamina. Another may allow you to create better slingshot ammo or strengthen weaponry.


The graphics and art style are beautiful, and the different lands each have a distinct style that stands out. The snowy starting area feels cold, and plants and vibrant flowers stand out against the white landscape. The sound of your steps squeaking and crunching against the snow is an excellent audio touch. Standing on the cliffs, you can hear the wind howling around you, giving a chill in the air. As you move into a cave lit with fluorescent mushrooms and moss, it feels echoey and damp. The stone temples give an old, abandoned feeling as you can hear distant rumblings. The cutscenes have a clever design detail as the characters are clear and the backgrounds will blur, something I noticed and appreciated as something that stood out nicely.


The voice acting is lovely and suits the game. The characters speak their own language, and Kaku often says his name when he gets excited, which is enjoyable. If the developers opted to use full voice acting, it would not have suited as well as choosing their own language, as it gives the game its “other-world and time” feel. The music is delightful and strikes a nice balance between adventurous and curious, which suits Kaku perfectly as an adventurous and curious character. I did notice one missed opportunity, where one of the puzzles requires the old Geezer to stand on one stone, and you stand on the other to open a door. I waited and expected him to get snappy and start telling me to hurry up, but it never happened. I feel like this would have been a nice touch, filling out the characters and world a little more.


In all, the game is a beautiful platformer with some great puzzles to solve. The story is told well, and I found it interesting and wanted to learn more about the world and lore as I played. The idea of having elemental lords that you must defeat leans into the different level designs, creating an opportunity for bright and visually exciting levels. The many game elements keep it interesting as there is a balanced mix of level exploration, temple puzzle solving, and boss fights that are enjoyable and don’t feel too repetitive. Minor HUD irritations were the only complaint that stuck in my mind, such as key bind tips that were taking up the side of the screen. Still, I’m sure more playing with the game settings may fix that issue, something I couldn’t find but did not spend too much time on.


The Bad

- Easy to pick up and jump in
- Storytelling that makes you want more
- Interesting and beautiful level design

- Less fluid on the keyboard compared to controller
- Clunky HUD at times
- You can get stuck on rocks or trees exploring the corners of the map

The Good

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