When I first saw it at PAX East 2016, Klang was a wonderful surprise; a rhythm platformer I had heard nothing about before trying it under the direction of creator Tom-Ivar Arntzen, and it initially worried me. Rhythm games have a much smaller window for error than other games; If the beat if off, it’s a bust.
Having now played the final version of Klang, I am happy to say it no only nails the mechanics of a rhythm action platformer, but couples this with fantastic music from bLiNd and startling neon visuals to create and experience that is challenging, but incredibly rewarding.
Game Version: Final / PC
Review Copy: Provided by the Publisher
Available on Steam
When I say that Klang is challenging, I’m not joking. I’m by no means a gifted rhythm gamer or platform whiz, but I consider myself at least competent in both genres, certainly enough to get through things with out too much frustration.
Let’s just say that there’s a reason it took me a bit to get this review out. Wanting to play through the entire game to get a complete picture of things, this took me longer than I expected.
This shouldn’t dissuade you though, in any way. The mechanics in Klang are superbly tuned and handle wonderfully. Thankfully, they’re quite simple and very clearly shown and explained to you as you progress through the game. You’re just thrown in the deep end with Klang, and the game gives you very little room for error.
The up side of this is how good it feels when you get everything right and you’re grooving to the game’s fantastic soundtrack. After a few failures, when everything connects, the feeling of achievement you get in Klang was one of the best, rivaling some of my most cherished Dark Souls moments.
I think that sentiment touches on an important point about Klang’s difficulty. They are vastly different games, but like Dark Souls, while Klang can be incredibly hard at times, it never feels unfair. It always feels like if you just get a little bit quicker, or learn the patterns just a little bit better, you’ll triumph. And, you will.
Artistically, Klang is incredibly unique. The games environments and actors are portrayed in bizarre pulsing neons, and while the art style can be a bit overly bright and loud at times, there’s an incredible level of consistency to everything, which ties it all together nicely. The pulsing EDM soundtrack from bLiNd fits the game perfectly, and it’s clear that this was something that was built side by side with the gameplay. There’s quite obviously an incredible level of respect between designer/artist and musician and their crafts.
There’s not a huge variety to the music throughout the game, but it fits the aesthetic so well, this only struck me after playing, and never detracted from the actual gameplay experience. This is a game all about music, and the soundtrack is a major part of what makes this such a fantastic experience.
The story of Klang is never really addressed in the game, and your only given hints and snippets of what’s going on. This will undoubtedly confuse or annoy some people, but it does go along way in enriching the world and making it feel like it has some depth.
Klang is a superb melding of art, music and mechanics. Each piece serves the others and creates an incredibly enjoyable game, even if it does beat you senseless occasionally with its difficulty. Don’t let that difficulty, or the unique and eclectic style, drive you away from this superb evolution of the rhythm game genre; this is a game well worth the effort to experience.
*Disclaimer: This review is based on a Press Review Copy given to us by the Developer. All opinions are the authors own, and the objectivity of the piece may be influenced by any of the authors own biases as stated in the article or in this disclaimer.*