Is Kaku: Ancient Seal, Worth Playing?
Honest Video Game Reviews received a free copy of this title for review purposes, however our opinions are our own.
While Kaku: Ancient Seal is a wonderful homage to the golden era of 3D platformers, its dated visuals and occasional performance issues will be a deal breaker for some.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: Action
Developer: BINGOBELL
Publisher: BINGOBELL
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 4 May 2023
Supported Modes:

Dated Visuals.

While I find Kaku: Ancient Seal’s aesthetic utterly charming, it is very dated visually, and with the exception of the size and scope of each zone, Kaku: Ancient Seal appears no more visually impressive than many late-era PS2 games and certainly no more impressive than many Xbox 360 and PS3 launch titles.

Did Kaku: Ancient Seal’s dated visuals hinder my enjoyment? Not really. It’s still a very good game that provides excellent value for money, retailing at just $24.99.

However, I am not a gamer who is particularly worried about visuals when the gameplay is solid, and gamers who care more about visuals than gameplay or value both equally will find Kaku: Ancient Seal rather unimpressive.

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A Modern Golden Age 3D Platformer.

People who were gamers in the 1990s got to experience first-hand the birth of the 3D platformer. While many would say that 2D platformers are mechanically and visually superior to their 3D counterparts, I feel that both 2D and 3D titles have much to offer the genre and have both enjoyed (and sometimes endured) periods of success and failure.

With titles such as Crash Bandicoot (1994), Spyro the Dragon (1998), and Banjo Tooie (2000) sharing the stage with iconic titles such as Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64, platformer fans in the 90s and early 2000s were eating well, until suddenly they were not, and a flood of less impressive and occasionally downright 3D platformers and occasionally poorly received sequels to established franchises left Nintendo almost the sole custodian of the genre, with Sega having been forced out of the console race after the Dreamcast failed to sell enough units and Sonic the hedgehog took his first steps towards a dark path which resulted in a decade of poorly received games that left many in the fanbase feeling that their faith in the blue streak was misplaced.

With many smaller developers opting to develop 2D platformers (and many are excellent) and AAA developers hesitant to invest in a genre that Nintendo has dominated for almost 20 years, very few quality 3D platformers have been released that were not either remasters of golden era titles, or poorly received attempts to revive long-dead franchises, such as Crash bandicoot 4, which while being an excellent title, was deemed by many in the community as lacking the charm that made the original trilogy so beloved.

Upon first booting up Kaku: Ancient Seal, my initial impression was that it looked and felt like a 1990s platformer, and after playing for a good few hours, that has not changed. As a child of the 90s, my inner child couldn’t be happy to experience the wonder and magic of a 3D platformer despite being well into my 30s.

What makes me even more excited about Kaku: Ancient Seal is that I know millions of others like me who would feel an equal sense of wonder while playing it, not to mention young gamers, who, for many, may be experiencing a 3D platformer not developed and published by Nintendo for the first time.

I must clarify that I have nothing against Nintendo platformers; they are some of the best the genre has to offer, and I am a huge fan of much of what Nintendo releases.

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Dialogue Issues.

Kaku: Ancient Seal’s dialogue is so mechanical it reads as if an AI wrote it, and when combined with terrible audio, that results in gibberish statements such as “ug gug huh?” is translated into a wall of badly written and woefully dry text.

As a result, I find myself skipping the vast majority of every conversation with NPCs, as while Kaku: Ancient Seal’s gameplay is solid, and its narrative is passable, the dialogue feels like Google Translate and ChatGPT co-wrote it, and honestly, I cannot be bothered to waste my time reading dialogue that is equal parts cringe and tedium.

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An Icon in the Making.

While console ports and coming, and soon Kaku: Ancient Seal will not be a PC-exclusive platformer, It is notable that even if only for a little while, PC gamers have access to well-made PC-exclusive 3D platformers, with the majority of major platformer franchises having originated on various consoles, before making their way eventually (if ever) to PC.

Performance Issues.

Kaku: Ancient Seal suffers from some truly baffling performance issues when you consider its relatively unimpressive visuals and low hardware requirements; while these are thankfully few and far between and appear to happen without rhyme or reason, when they occur during a jumping puzzle or boss battle that requires split-second timing, frame rate drops from 100+ to less than 14 FPS is jarring and, honestly should have been addressed before entering early access let alone before full release.

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Puzzles.

Kaku: Ancient Seal is filled to the brim with puzzles, and unlike titles such as Biomutant, many of these puzzles are not only well-designed but unique, and it’s not uncommon to encounter 10+ different puzzle systems within just a few hours of play, many of which rewarding the player with new items or currency that can be exchanged for new skills, gear upgrades and passive abilities, making Kaku: Ancient Seal perfect for fans of puzzle platformers, and action RPGs alike.

Combat.

While Kaku: Ancient Seal’s system appears very simple on the surface, it has surprising depth, and by chaining various shield and main hand attacks, players can engage with multiple powerful foes at once, using skilly timed dodges, ranged elemental attacks and powerful close-range melee attacks to defeat high levels foes at relatively lower levels, allowing players who have the skills to progress quickly to be able to do so, without making Kaku: Ancient Seal unappealing to newer or less skilled players.

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Crafting.

Kaku: Ancient Seal allows players to crafty a variety of consumables, such as elemental slingshot ammo and food, with a variety of uses, such as increasing defence or replenishing health, in addition to a fairly comprehensive upgrade system that allows players to upgrade their gear (and even consumables) to be more effective when facing tougher enemies and more dangerous environments.

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Kaku: Ancient Seal FAQ

Kaku: Ancient Seal is a action video game developed and published by BINGOBELL, it was released on 4 May 2023 and retails for $24.99.

Platform Availability.

Kaku: Ancient Seal is available exclusively on PC.

How Long Does Kaku: Ancient Seal Take to Complete?

On average Kaku: Ancient Seal takes between 9.5 and 20 hours to complete.

  • Main Story: 9.5 Hours.
  • Main + Side Quests: 15 Hours.
  • Completionist: 20 Hours.

Estimated completion times are derived from various sources and may vary based on the skill level of each player.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Controller.
  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Kaku: Ancient Seal is unrated and contains the following:

  • Violence

Final Verdict.

Kaku: Ancient Seal is a long overdue addition to the 3D platformer genre that has the potential to be the start of a franchise; however, to realise that success, it needs a polished and fully featured complete console port before the end of 2024,  otherwise its launch will be eclipsed by more engaging and visually appealing platformers launching in 2025, as the 9th console generation has finally entered its stride, as it heads into the second half of its life.

Is Kaku: Ancient Seal Worth Playing In 2024?

8
Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Kaku: Ancient Seal" a rating of 8/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

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