The platforming genre is filled with a ton of games, each trying different things or using older ideas in creative ways. Flat Kingdom released earlier this year and recently got a new release called Paper’s Cut Edition which changes up the art style & re-works some parts of the game.
Flat Kingdom stands on the shoulders of other platforming adventures but does it use the influences it takes and makes a fun creative adventure?
Note: The game is out now only for PC with a planed released on PS4 coming in the future
The story is of a young knight named Flat who has the ability to change his shape to be light, heavy or sharp. He worked with royal family for years and grew up with the Princess, being a noble knight to the country. However, a new threat arrives to the land, capturing the princess & making parts of the world 3D. Flat races into action to save the kingdom and defend his home.
Characters have a lot of personality with expressions & animations, in addition to some fun dialog that invokes memories of the quality indie gem Guacamelee. In addition, you have special scrolls you can find in the games many levels that tell more about the backstory to the games world.
Overall, I liked this story a lot, with it not being in the way of the core gameplay but present enough to have an impact on the core game.
Flat Kingdom has seven worlds with an extra level per world you can unlock as you play through the game, but Flat also gains special abilities as you beat bosses like the ability to get a head-but or flinging yourself to bounce from wall to wall. Using newly found abilities, you can find hidden goodies or explore new levels. This leads to replay value for older levels and ensures you explore the entire world of the game, having Metroidvanna-like elements in some cases.
Bosses are creative in the sense that each one pushes you to use your three shapes and abilities to take out the weak points. What is interesting, and this applies to all foes, is that each one has a rock-paper-scissors system; different weak points or foes react to your shape. So if Flat becomes a Triangle, you can pop jelly fish or can kill a dual headed crab by slamming into its shell with the Square shape.
One goal you have when playing through the game is to collect coins, as each level has a set amount of them. You can use the collected coins to extend your health meter by one heart (take one hit per heart). This helps the game have a flexible difficulty, as despite having a difficulty select option, you buy more hearts to make things easier or stick with the base amount of hearts to have a harder challenge.
Lastly, you can find other objects like Flutes in levels which you can give to people in other levels to complete side quests. You can get rewards or complete achievement requirements by doing that, so its another nice reason to go back to older levels. The games overall design is strong, with ground work in place to ensure that strong core gameplay can be provided.
The gameplay present blends a lot of other platformers, with franchises like Kirby and Sonic coming to mind. You have three shapes for Flat; Circle, Square and Triangle. With the Circle, you can double jump and move at a nice pace. But you are slower but stronger as the Square shape by having the ability to ground pound when in the air or pushing heavy objects. Triangle lets you move at Sonic speed at the expense of a shorter jump. Overall, this simple system leads to very well designed stages that play with all your core abilities. The best part about this core gameplay is that this new release of the title fully explains how each system works before the main game starts, as that was an issue with the original release of the game.
The studio designed the shape-changing mechanic to offer depth found in other platformers and games without having too much clutter. It feels rewarding to fly in the air with the Triangle shape jump then ground pound into the ground with the Square shape for example. This even applies to underwater, as you are pushed to constantly shift between the Circle and Square forms to move at a nice pace without taking hit or moving too slowly.
As you progress, the games offers more challenge and the final set of stages offer very creative usage of your different abilities. Overall, Flat Kingdom has very strong core gameplay that works remarkably well with the level designs and boss fights.
Controls of the game work well across both PC and Controller, with the different shapes mapped to the literal Square/Circle/Triangle buttons on PlayStation controllers & the W/E/R Keys on PC. You can edit the controls however you see fit in the settings but overall the controls feel tight and responsive.
The game has a interesting history with its presentation, as it originally had a more blocky look with simpler character designs. But with the Paper Cut Edition, the studio behind this game made a lot of changes to the games visuals and they look great.
Flat Kingdom has a simple look that blends paper-like textures but with bright colors, with that standing out a lot. Each level has a lot of detail put into it and the usage of 3D and 2D assets & locations works very well. The character of Flat looks natural too, with all three of his forms having a nice charm to them.
Musically, the score was composed Manami Matsumae, famous for work on the Mega Man series. The tracks made for Flat Kingdom depend on the level used, as some have catchy melodies but some lean on offering atmosphere. Overall, the score of the game is solid and does a lot to enhance the tone of the game.
Regarding the game’s performance, it runs very well on PC with it running at a locked 60FPS and a number of resolution options for both windowed and full screen support.
Flat Kingdom have seven worlds with each world having two main levels & an unlockable one, with over 40 achievements to collect on Steam. The main game can take up to 3-4 hours to complete but repeated runs through levels can extend the game length by two hours if you collect everything.
Story – 4 out of 5 / Design – 4.5 out of 5 / Gameplay – 4.5 out of 5 / Presentation & Performance – 5 out of 5 / Replay Value – 4 out of 5
Flat Kingdom is a platforming adventure that quite enjoyable. It has a fun story mixed with great design work and strong core gameplay systems. It looks great on all PC set ups and runs at a locked 60 frame per second. It is a game that had a lot of heart put into it and when you sit down & play it, the entire package comes together greatly. Highly recommend this platforming adventure if you are an avid fan of the genre or if you want a fun game to play.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Flat Kingdom was reviewed on a PC with a review code provided by the developer. The game is coming to the PlayStation 4 in the future.