We’ve seen some fairly decent platformers this year, including the likes of Guacamelee! 2, and in contrast, we’ve endured some pretty horrendous additions, such as Awesome Pea. I could dive deeply into the pool and throw out a gigantic list of both heavy hitters and miserable cash grabs, but, I’d be here all day. Safe to say, the platformer genre isn’t short of attention. Miles & Kilo is the latest title to join the ranks, but does it do enough to stand out in such a widespread crowd? Yes, and no. It’s a worthy trip, but it’s far from memorable.
Much to be expected, there’s not much in the way of a story. The titular Miles and Kilo find themselves stranded on a string of islands following an event that saw a mysterious specter take down their plane. Now, it falls to this duo to retrieve all of the scattered plane components in an attempt to put it back together so that they can escape from the archipelago. Components, I might add, that have since been stolen by the archipelago’s few antagonists. It’s a simple and straightforward plot, yes, but it does the trick regardless.
The game’s world map showcases its islands to you, and in order to reach successive islands, you’ll need to beat the island (and its boss) that you’re situated on. Each island is compiled of a handful of levels, in which, again, you’ll need to unlock through completing the prior. There’s not much to keep on track of as far as the game’s handling is concerned; left and right movement, a jump, an attack, and that’s that. You’re free to map these functions however you see fit, allowing you to customize the layout of your controller’s commands.
You’ll take on the role of Miles for the most part, however, there are sections in the game in which you’ll play as Kilo. The controls and commands remain the same, but each character does enjoy their own unique outputs. Miles, for example, can climb walls, throw fruit, punch, and slide. Whereas Kilo can barrel roll, and smash enemies in rapid succession via homing to clear large drops; Sonic 4-esque. There’s a nice bit of variation on show here, but it’s the way that each level is catered for each character that brings much of the challenge.
Each level can be completed in less than a minute, but due to the game’s harsh difficulty, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time perfecting your jumps and fine tuning your platforming before you’re anywhere close to success. The crux of play sees you starting at the far left of a level, and working to the far right. You’ll know when you’re at a level’s end as there’s a sizable barrier that you’ll need to hit to end your run. Outside of that, things don’t really get too complex. This is a game that puts depth to the side in favor of bouts of replay value.
I say that because each level is graded upon completion; fruit held, coins collected, time, and so forth. There’s some achievements tied to performance, but in truth, I highly doubt I’ll ever see them adding to my gamerscore through lack of skill. That said, this is certainly a game that will strongly appeal to hardcore fans of the genre. The levels play out as you would expect. Tight platforming, environmental hazards, and enemies are strewn all over. You’ll move through them, and then be met with a boss at the end of each and every world.
It truly does prove to be quite a taxing game at parts though. Several times I found myself contemplating switching to another game due to how tough some levels are, and how accurate they expect you to be. It doesn’t help matters that the game oftentimes throws cheap tactics your way, and because of that, a lot of trial and error is involved here. Despite that, mind, Miles & Kilo is a worthy investment, especially if you have a soft spot for split-second, quick reflex platformers. Just, expect to endure some frustration along the way.
Death means a complete level restart, and death, as alluded to above, will come often. Most levels see you jumping from narrow platform to narrow platform, dodging spikes and guillotine, and taking out the game’s few enemy variants. The latter can be achieved through Kilo’s homing attack, or via launching Miles’ fruit – to which he can only hold five fruits at a time. You can indeed pick up some replenishment along the way, but most of the levels within are laid out quite strictly, giving you just enough room for success, and little else.
With cheap tactics to the side (more on that shortly) the boss battles are the weakest element on show. There’s only a few to defeat, but none of them are particularly memorable, nor do they house much of a challenge. You’ll spend most of your time here simply dodging their attacks and then getting your own attack in; rinse and repeat until they fall. It would have been nice to see some more depth on this front, or at the very least a bit more of a challenge. Instead, all of these encounters feel quite cheaply constructed.
Moving back to the game’s other drawback, Miles & Kilo is chock-full of unnecessary, poor design choices. The game makes a habit of killing you for no reason outside of bad timing. Whilst this is an acceptable aspect in many games of this kind, here, it just feels well out place due to how cheap these moments feel. Most of these issues fall to timing rather than anything else, such as moving guillotine, which unavoidably takes your life through no other reason than reaching the area that it’s stationed at, at the wrong time. It’s infuriating.
The game has several moments like this, and there’s little way to bypass them outside of hoping that you reach said danger at the precise moment that it’s giving way. When all is said and done, however, Miles & Kilo is a decent platformer that does manage to get a lot right. The game’s visual and audio design isn’t anything to scream about, but there’s enough detail and distinction across the board to see it through. There’s also a time attack mode that unlocks once the campaign is complete, lending the game even more replay value.
Miles & Kilo offers a colorful and, at times, exciting adventure. Its steep difficulty curve and the simplicity found in its handling sits well with its short-burst level design. However, its reliance on using irritatingly cheap tactics is bound to frustrate even the most forgiving of players. That said, Miles & Kilo does enough right to justify a recommendation, but it’s a recommendation that I can only extend to the patient fans of hardcore platformers.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.