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KAPIA: an adventure built on contrasts

In September I shared some of the physical rewards I’ve received as a Kickstarter backer. I wrote in that article that I’d already made pledges to 39 projects and might have to do something special when I hit 40 – and now that day has arrived. Expect a round-up post soon.

Let me tell you about KAPIA in the meantime. I’d been made aware of this upcoming point-and-click mentions a Facebook group over the past couple of months, but it wasn’t one I’d paid much attention to mainly because of its 3D style. I’ve written before about how I prefer playing adventures when they’re done in 2D because I like being able to fill in the blanks myself; and how character-switching in video games isn’t something I like because I’d rather get to know one protagonist fully.

But deciding to give it a chance and play the demo available on itch.io recently made me rethink this. Sure, the game does utilise several gaming mechanics which don’t usually appeal to me, but there’s just something that’s rather charming about both it and its developers. 2FOR2 is made up of husband-and-wife team Pavel and Anna and what they’ve managed to achieve so far through their own effort and funding is really impressive. It’s for this reason that I decided to become a backer for their Kickstarter campaign.

KAPIA follows the story of a retired pilot named Stefan and his cheeky young granddaughter Reny, who became his responsibility when she was sadly orphaned. A war has divided the planet into coalitions representing ‘The East’ and ‘The West’ following the collapse of the World Union and a strange intelligent infection is forcing people to live under lockdown in protective domes. It’s up to our protagonists to solve the mystery of the survivors and uncover the origin of the violent tragedy which split the world in two.

In terms of gameplay, I played the demo with a mouse and it’s just what you’d expect from a point-and-click. Anyone who’s completed a classic adventure will feel right at home here. A short tutorial is provided at the beginning but you won’t need it if you’re familiar with the genre: the left button is used to make the character move and certain actions corresponding to verb icons. At several points the perspective changes from third-person to first, so players could get a close-up of certain items when they interact with them.

One of the reasons I prefer 2D adventures is that the change in camera angles between 3D scenes always throws me off. For example, I left one scene in the demo to the right and entered the next in the opposite direction and it was slightly disorientating. It doesn’t feel as though this will be too much of a problem once you get to know your way around the game world though; and I get the impression that KAPIA may play more fluidly using a controller once it is released.

KAPIA, video game, man, Zim, Reny, girl, helmet

The Kickstarter page mentions that this is a title ‘built around contrasts’ and you can certainly see this in its protagonists. The sections spent controlling Stefan are where you’ll learn the background story through familiar dialogue-orientated puzzles, whereas Reny’s levels have less narrative and more mechanics-orientated challenges to solve. They’re very different in terms of age, personality and priorities, but the developers say that these characters are ‘representative of the world they are on a quest to heal’.

As mentioned above, switching between characters isn’t a mechanic which appeals to me. It throws me out of a game’s flow and brings me back to reality when I’m engrossed in a story and I do wonder whether I’m ultimately going to enjoy the difference in gameplay styles described above. On a positive note however, the length of time spent individually with Stefan and Reny in demo did feel as though we’d be given enough with each of them to get to know them properly – much better than some quick switches I’ve experienced in other releases.

The puzzles so far have all been relatively easy but enjoyable, and if they’re representative of what’s going to be in the finished game then we’re going to get a nice 5-hour game. There was only one challenge I had some trouble with: it was necessary to find out information from a leaflet in order to answer the questions asked by a kitty robot, but I had trouble reading the words because they were slightly blurred on my screen. I think this says more about my eyesight than the game itself though.

Unfortunately, the demo crashed on a couple of occasions during my 90 minutes with it (as you can see from the video below) and I did notice some issues in terms of sound levels. Stefan’s sections seem louder than those featuring Reny and everything dropped to a whisper at certain points. A release isn’t expected until next summer though so there’s plenty of time to work out these bugs – and I have to say that the music used on the loading screens alongside Reny’s drawings is so lovely.

So if I don’t like 3D adventures and character-switching, and I’ve seen some small problems with the game so far, then why on earth am I backing it on Kickstarter? It’s like I said above: there’s just something so charming about KAPIA despite these things. I went into the demo thinking I wasn’t going to enjoy it and it made me change my mind – and if that’s not a reason to make a pledge, then I don’t know what is. 2FOR2 have spent five years on their project so far and you can see the amount of effort they’ve put into it.

The campaign is due to end on 15 October 2020 so there’s still time to try the demo for yourself and see what you think. Head over to the Kickstarter page or official website for more details, and give Anna a follow on Twitter for regular updates.

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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