A Metroidvania That Needs A Kickstart – Legend of Iya
Today I sat down to play the demo of Legend of Iya, an independent adventure game currently under development and raising funds through Kickstarter.
Starring a schoolgirl named Iya, Legend of Iya is a “Metroidvania” game, an adventure in the style of Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Players will be navigating Iya through a labyrinth of exotic landscapes and hidden rooms, solving puzzles and acquiring new abilities that give the heroine new ways to move and open up new avenues of exploration. All of this is showcased in the demo, which also includes well-designed, giant boss monsters.
What will strike you right away upon playing the demo is how pretty the art style is. The developer, Darkfalzx, has produced beautiful pixel-art graphics in a richly detailed, dark fantasy style reminiscent of Out of This World and Secret of Evermore. Iya and her enemies are smoothly animated, drawn in a fluid, bubbly style inspired by classical American cartooning. Iya’s long hair flows in the wind as she moves, her arms pinwheel when she does a running leap, and she has a large variety of attack animations and movements.
The fighting system is also well-developed, as Iya can perform uppercuts, low kicks, simple punches, and even knock enemies upwards or downwards when she attacks from the air.
Monster designs in Legend of Iya are very interesting as well. One menacing enemy you’ll encounter early on is the Cyberbadger, a cyborg badger that attacks with rotating blades attached to its paws. These are very dangerous, as they strike Iya multiple times in one attack and can pin her down to attack again and again. Just after encountering the Cyberbadgers, Iya must fight a gigantic golem, which slams its fists down to try and crush her. In the next area there is a huge owl that fires smaller owls at Iya. When she attacks the smaller owls, they change direction and home in on the big one, exploding on contact. Most impressive is the final boss on the demo: an elephant with a cybernetic mask and Gatling-guns instead of tusks.
The demo displays the game in an early state, and lacks music or full sound effects. The difficulty level is also, I find, extremely high: there is no rest period after Iya is attacked, and so she can literally get bounced across the whole stage, juggled into the air by one enemy assault after another, helpless to defend herself and left with only half of her life points. Monsters are also placed in very unpredictable positions. Upon entering the room with the giant owl, I was attacked by its smaller minions without visual or audible warning. I fled downwards, only to be smashed with a giant carpenter’s hammer by a bear that I could not see until it had already attacked me. Luckily, the game is still early in development and there is a ton of time to adjust it, by using the environment to suggest to the player what hidden dangers lurk ahead and which helpful skills they have at their disposal.
Legend of Iya is a very promising game. The demo is a kernel of what could become a classic independent Metroidvania, in the tradition of Cave Story and La Mulana. Its core fighting gameplay is engaging, its platforming mechanics are solid, and it is, more than anything, a fantastic voyage through a gorgeous world. Darkfalzx has plans to improve the core gameplay, to make it more accessible and to hire professionals to help with music and sound design. But, don’t take my word for it. There is still one more day remaining in the Kickstarter: please, visit the page, download the demo, and try it out for yourself!
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