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Are you concerned about the imminent end of everything? In a few billion years, the sun will go supernova and the Andromeda galaxy will drunkenly collide with our corner of the universe, possibly bumping our planet into the nearest supermassive black hole. Either that or a few trillion years into the future will see universal entropy set in when the last star burns out.

If you’re breathing heavy right now and wondering why your palms are roughly 300% sweatier, then let me just prescribe a good ol’ platformer for what ails ya. There’s a certain joy to two-dimensional hopping and bashing when done right, and when it comes to Kaze and the Wild Masks, this hippity-hoppity splash of colour is a cathartic carrot-crunching adventure.

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At first glance, Kaze and the Wild Masks looks like a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s neglected simian Donkey Kong. Linear levels are dotted with platforms, hidden secrets, and all manner of violent vegetation looking to slow your progress down, with Kaze herself able to perform a range of similar motions when exploring these stages. From a standard jump that can take out a variety of enemies through to a spin attack that can mercifully be cancelled if you’re too close to a ledge, Kaze’s learnt a few tricks at the SNES school of platforming.

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Where Kaze and the Wild Masks establishes its own identity, is with the titular wild masks. A number of these masks can be found throughout levels, each one offering a specific power-up. For example one mask turns you into a bunny bullet as you dash forward in the sky, another turns you into a flying warrior who can launch icicle attacks, and there’s a shark mask that gives you more momentum when you’re in water.

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Land, sea, and air are all covered with these masks, each one providing a substantial boost to movement and attack options in the massive stages that you bounce around in. Outside of those diversionary elements, Kaze and the Wild Masks excels at its meat and potatoes platforming. It is beautifully fluid and fast when you want it to be, showcasing a delightful flow of energy when you get going.

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Even better, this is a game that respects your time. While you’re able to play Kaze in a traditional mode that will result in some very white-knckle moments, a casual mode is not to be overlooked when you’re after a lunchtime diversion instead of an armpit-moistening experience. With more checkpoints given to players, that turns Kaze into a delightful romp, especially when you don’t have to factor in something pointless like limited lives into the equation.

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Every level feels as if it was polished to a mirror shine, and the use of assets to create a unique flavour in each stage provides Kaze and the Wild Masks with a satisfying challenge that never feels unfair. Enemies are cleverly placed, obstacles require a healthy amount of precision to overcome, and there are secrets in every level that you’ll spend time hunting for and revisiting. It’s a satisfying thrill-ride from start to finish.

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Kaze and the Wild Masks is also a disarmingly charming game to gaze at. There’s a retro feel to its visuals, but each frame has clearly been rendered with love and care, resulting in an effort that’s a nostalgic reminder of the Nintendo SNES and Sega Megadrive golden age of platformers. There’s a visual language that plays to Kaze’s strength and origins, providing a clear and concise golden path for you to follow. It runs like a dream, is just the type of vibrant design to instantly grab your attention, and the clean sprite design helps sell the fairly-challenging gameplay.

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Topped off by a quirky soundtrack and dozens of worlds to explore, Kaze and the Wild Masks is an absolute treat that takes the best of yesteryear and updates it for a new audience with vibrant art and enjoyably challenging gameplay. If you’ve been on the hunt for something that leans more towards the retro side of life, don’t let this charming platformer pass you by.

Last Updated: March 19, 2021

Kaze and the Wild Masks
It may wear its influences on its sleeve, but Kaze and the Wild Masks is still an effortlessly delightful romp with its tight gameplay, beautiful worlds, and enjoyable platforming action.
Kaze and the Wild Masks was reviewed on PlayStation 4
77 / 100

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