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Kumo: one boy’s Journey

The developers of Theropods got in touch last month to let me know about their Kickstarter campaign. After playing through the demo on Twitch and seeing that their science-fiction world of kickass protagonists and dinosaurs would be right up my street, I became a backer.

A recent email from the team contained good news and confirmed that the project had met its fundraising target. To celebrate their success and share the love, they’d also included a few noteworthy campaigns to check out. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or a release by its box art) but the image included for Kumo immediately caught my eye: it featured the kind of clean artwork that usually appeals to me and the tagline ‘A boy in the clouds’ made me want to find out more.

The Kickstarter page describes the game as a beautiful and atmospheric story about a young boy looking for a second chance at life. He’s trapped in a world of limbo where he’s forced to solve puzzles and discover secrets while searching for his parents and finding his way back home. During his journey through lush ruins, snowy mountains and a strange mirrored temple, he’ll meet the spirits of those who travelled before him as he tries to keep his determination to push onwards.

After downloading the demo and starting it up, I felt as though I was playing Journey, RiME and The Witness all mashed together. Kumo’s outfit with its red hooded-cape is very much like that of the first title’s protagonist, and the environment’s bright and colourful visual style looks like something straight out of the second and third. Developer Benjamin Gregg names these games as influences on his website so it’s no surprise they’d sneak into his project somewhere. It’s a lovely-looking mix.

Not much detail is given away on the campaign page but the demo gives you a good idea of what you can expect. Gameplay-wise it’s very much like RiME: the boy can interact with various objects in order to solve puzzles and change the world around him. For example, at one point I had to position a row of arrows in the right directions to match the statues opposite, and this opened a door which I could then use to get around a pile of debris and into the next area.

One of the most memorable mechanics from Journey was the scarf and something similar makes an appearance here in Kumo. Pressing L1 on the controller sets the boy’s scarf free to fly about the environment, and you can direct its movement using the joysticks so it interacts with blue orbs to cause an action. For some reason I’m terrible at flying controls and an inverted access in such situations sends me all over the place, so please excuse my poor performance during these sections in my video below!

I will say to keep an open-mind if you do decide to try the demo for yourself. I encountered several bugs that prevented me from reaching puzzle solutions – but a note from the developer at the beginning of the gameplay does remind players that this is early work. When you consider that all of this is the 16-months’ effort from Gregg alone, it makes it all the more impressive; and there’s time to get any issues ironed out before the title’s proposed release early next year.

At the time of writing, 453 backers have pledged over 70% of Kumo’s fundraising target. If what you’ve seen appeals, there’s still time left to show your support: head over to the Kickstarter page before 31 August 2019. You can also wishlist the game on Steam, and follow along on Twitter to stay up-to-date on progress.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

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