Coverage Club is our weekly series of smaller impressions in the style of full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preference, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here.
One Eyed Kutkh
Covered by Samuel Guglielmo
I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about the indigenous people of the north. Tribes like the Inuit, Yupik, and Algonquin only seem to rarely show up in video games, and I haven't been seeking out material on them. I enjoyed Never Alone as a documentary and for what it taught me, even though I thought it failed as a game. Since it claims to be based on the folklore of those tribes, I wanted to give One Eyed Kutkh a shot as well. I was hoping I would learn more and have fun while doing it. These hopes ended up crushed.
It's hard to say exactly what the story of One Eyed Kutkh is, as it's all told with no dialogue or text. The best I can grasp is that there's an alien, who I assume is the titular Kutkh, that crash lands on Earth. In an effort to repair his ship he accidentally causes the sun and the moon to get into an argument. A villager then climbs up a giant tree to try and get them to stop. By the end, I didn't really know what the tale actually was. Apparently climbing the World Tree is supposed to be a representation of ascending to Ninth Heaven, but I only learned that by reading the game's description. I'm not even entirely sure what a "One Eyed Kutkh" is, or what culture this is even supposed to be representing.
The problem spreads a little further, as I become totally baffled at what the game is even going for. I began to do some external research on some of the stuff present in the game. The One Eyed Kutkh itself appears to be based on Kutkh, but in name only. Kutkh is a raven spirit, with several particularly neat myths about its origins. I particularly like the one where it created itself independently from God and considers this a point of pride. He's a trickster, creates many of the animals that populate Earth, and has an awesome sounding myth where he gets into an epic battle with a swarm of mice that causes him to accidentally create the landscape of Earth.
This is exciting and should make for both a fantastic story and game. Yet the game's version of Kutkh is an alien that crashes his spaceship and wants to go home. He doesn't really do anything other than sit around and cry.
Things get a little weirder when it comes to the World Tree portion of the game. The most famous World Tree comes from Norse mythology. There are other versions as well, with Hindu, Latvian, and Brahma Kumaris all having their own version, but it's a stretch to say any of these are "Far North" cultures. My best guess is that this is supposed to be the Samoyedic version of the World Tree, which is supposed to connect different realities to each other. Instead, this one just juts out of the ground and is a big tree with a submarine sitting on top of it for some reason. Once again I'm left confused as to how this ties into anything.
So why does this matter? Well, it means one of two things. On one hand, it kind of gives off a "don't care" attitude to mythologies. There's nothing wrong with rewriting myths from time to time to work with games. I love God of War and it does this with both Greek and Norse mythology. However, if you're selling yourself based on those mythologies, you should probably care enough to get the basics right. At the very least I should be able to identify which culture the game is based on. On the other hand, it means One Eyed Kutkh is an educational game that spreads misinformation. For all the grievances I had with Never Alone, I came away feeling the game had great respect for the Iñupiat culture. I don't get that here. The game feels like a hodgepodge of different cultures blended together and sold as something exotic.
So what are you left with when you have an educational game that can’t educate? A crummy point and click adventure game where you barely do anything. All I ever seemed to do is click on an obvious item to play out the next small scene. There’s no puzzles to solve or places to explore. You just click on things for the hour or so that One Eyed Kutkh runs for.
Everything about One Eyed Kutkh is just so unbelievably bad. Even worse than that, the game actively makes me mad. An educational game should be, well… educational. Instead, this feels exploitive, and it doesn’t help that there’s a crummy game behind it all. This is quite possibly the most boring one-eyed alien to ever exist. Do yourself a favor, just play something else instead.
TechRaptor covered One Eyed Kutkh on PlayStation 4 with a code purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch.
Covered by Alex Santa Maria
Despite being translated into a movie earlier this year, Rampage is a game of its time. Just like it'd be hard to impart the wonder of silent movies to a younger crowd, arcade games of a certain era require context. How do you explain to someone playing a ROM on MAME the thrill of a pocketful of quarters? Where are the words to impart the unknown wonder of walking up to a cabinet and just trying to figure things out? While it's difficult to translate these styles of play to the modern day, it's not impossible. That's what Bulletproof Outlaws has done with Dragon Rage. If you're looking for a medieval take on city destruction, this is the game for you.
Originating from a Ludlum Dare entry, Dragon Rage is simplistic in nature. You control a building-sized red dragon prone to anger. You can get that much from the title, and you can pretty much guess what such a creature will do as he descends on a village. These thatched roof cottages are no match for your burninating might, but the villagers do have some defenses. As your rampaging continues, knights, archers, and the catapult will defend the kingdom as best they can.
To fight these foes, you have to have a full stomach. Each act of the game gives you a certain number of buildings to burn to the ground. Once you do that, the population of those buildings empties right into your waiting maw. Eat enough fodder and you'll go into a bloody rampage which powers up your fire breath and lets you complete the loop much more quickly. You also have a dash move and a high jump to avoid dangerous situations. After all, you don't want to go without food for too long and having a bunch of swords hit your big toe is a pain. As you rack up combos, you get powerups that also boost your efficiency, and the game becomes all about watching the numbers go up.
Dragon Rage is highly simplistic, but it does add a bit to the Rampage formula. There are boss units between some waves and you can hatch smaller dragon cubs to assist you in battle. Still, this simplicity does tend to let it down in the long run. Despite their best efforts, the swarm of enemies fighting you just have a tough time taking you down. I died a few times in my initial runs of the game, but I felt invincible once I knew what I was doing. Each act also feels way too long, stretching over ten minutes in some instances. No matter how much fun the initial chaos is, Dragon Rage just doesn't do enough to hold your attention for that long with its repetitive action.
As far as presentation goes, Dragon Rage harkens back to a different simpler time. In both look and sound, it reminds me of something that a high school friend might have pulled up in the computer lab. Character models are crude, yet well defined, perfect for an arcade game. The constant screams of the townsfolk as they meet their demise overload anything else on the soundtrack. It's all pretty charming to me, in a nostalgic sort of way. I could also totally see why someone would grow exacerbated by the whole thing pretty quickly.
As a spin on the Rampage formula, Dragon Rage is a winner. You won't spend much time with it if you're out of high school, but it's a great little distraction that does its job well. With so many games stretching on for hours and hours with no end in sight, it's nice to check in on something that's just a quick dose of fun.
TechRaptor covered Dragon Rage on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.