I think it was the adorable tablet face that made Kunai catch my eye. This may be the case for a lot of people, but there's just something about that face that is just hilariously adorable. Whatever it is, when I saw it at PAX South I just knew I needed to play Kunai. It helped that it looked like a very fun metroidvania that I could get into. Spoiler alert: it was.
You play as a little robot that has a tablet for a head. The robot appears to be some sort of prisoner or experiment before he gets liberated by an army of fancy flat-screened computer heads. The bad news is that he needs to escape from a mysterious tower of some sort, which is controlled by the evil army of what appears to be made up of robots with classic CRT monitors for heads. That's about all we got to see of the story, but I'm interested to dive into more of the tale into the full game. Also one of the tablet robots wears an eyepatch and that's just hilarious to me.
At the start of the demo, you're given the two most important tools: a soul-sucking katana and a pair of kunai. The katana can kill enemies with a few slashes, and doing so lets you, well... suck their soul out, healing you. This quickly became my primary weapon in the game, allowing me to dispatch enemies with some ease. I discovered my favorite tactic pretty early in: bouncing. You can bounce off of enemies heads by hitting them with a downward slash, and using this I was able to chain together a few kills while staying in the air. It's a rather fun and hilarious little technique that made me feel a lot better at the game than I actually was. The developer mentioned that there are more weapons in the full game, I personally remember seeing a pair of guns in one of the trailers, but you'll only heal with katana kills so the default never feels useless.
The kunai are more made for exploration, allowing the player to stick to surfaces and pull themselves around. They work as a grappling hook, and I could use them to reach high ledges or use both of them to climb up a wall. The aiming was automatic, and I never had a problem with the kunai wandering off and hitting something I didn't want.
I had to use both of these tools to get through the environment, the katana letting me cut down enemies while the kunai helped me navigate. Eventually, this led to the final challenge of the demo: a boss fight. The Trash Collector stood in my way and wanted to add me to its trash collection. Since my little tablet ninja was against such an act, combat. I had to use the kunai to climb up the walls to avoid attacks, jump onto the rocks he threw, and use downward slashes to catch the collecter during his attacks. It all lead to a gloriously fun fight that showed off the simple mechanics well.
However, one aspect of the game really deserves a special shout-out. The faces your robot makes. The tablet is so hilariously expressive, and always making some of the silliest and amazingly goofy faces, that I felt half the reason I kept wanting to play was to see what face it would make next. Interacting with the world became more fun, just to see the "stressed out" or "exerting effort" or "trying to play cute" faces. This is already my favorite new protagonist of 2020, and they haven't even said a word yet.
I came away from the demo rather impressed, and wanting to play more of Kunai. In fact, I considered it rather lucky that it comes out so soon because I want to get back to it. I'm excited to see more tools I'll get to use to explore Kunai's world, and what intense bosses and enemies lie in wait. Also more faces. I need to see more adorable tablet faces. How can I get my tablet to do that?
Kunai will launch on PC and Nintendo Switch on February 6th, 2020.