[Review] - One Eyed Kutkh (Nintendo Switch)
Recently, we have begun seeing more and more indie games released on the Nintendo Switch that draw on folklore and mythology to fashion their mechanics, art styles, and names. More often than not, these tales are used well to make a game's world seem alive, and to flavor it with a unique spice that will grab hold the interest of its player, and make it really stand out from the crowd. While this is a subject that I wish to expand on further at a later date, I just needed to present this as a slightly awkward introduction into a game that is a fine example of how not to call upon mythology or folklore for flavor. One Eyed Kutkh is that example.
Now, I'm not saying that One Eyed Kutkh is a bad game, because it isn't. I'll get to that in a short bit. No, One Eyed Kutkh failed in trying to communicate the flavor of its gameplay or art style by referencing an East Russian trickster god in it's title. A Kutkh, is similar to the Raven found in tribes of the Pacific Northwest. It is a god that brings light to earth, revels in its freedom from the creator god, and usually imbues humans with gifts merely to seed chaos. Kutkh isn't to be revered, just laughed at. That sounds like a great introduction of either our protagonist, or even the antagonist of our game. Sadly, that is not to be so. On the other hand, I have a theory I'll posit below as to what may be the connection. First, the game!
The One Eyed Kutkh, is an alien whose ship has wrecked on Earth (in what appears to be the arctic circle). The object of the game is to investigate your surroundings (both touchscreen and a controller can be used). and to figure out how exactly to interact with the environment to solve the puzzles put before us. We do this, of course, to repair our ship, and return to space. One Eyed Kutkh, is a very basic point and click adventure game. There are no words, only thought balloons with simplified sketches of your surroundings that hint at the solution, and gestures from other beings onscreen. I can't really go much more in depth than that, as the game is really short (it takes about 30 minutes to complete, I believe), and I don't want to spoil the whole thing, or ruin the puzzles.
Thankfully, the puzzles are pretty easy to figure out, and usually if something has become frustrating, it is because you haven't figured out how exactly you need to manipulate an object. Manipulating objects is intuitive, but sometimes you have to press an object in exactly the right spot to get it move. If you click anywhere else and get no response, you start trying to click around at other things. It's also inconsistent, because sometimes you longpress an item and you can then move it until you release your finger (or you touch it to the item that you interact with), and other times you just have to press it once (or click the button once on the controller), and it will drag around the screen to where you want it to go.
One Eyed Kutkh really looks like they commissioned a children's book illustrator to create their story, and then they animated those drawings. It is quite beautiful, really. It is filled with some pretty cool art, which is inspired by a mix of peoples of the far north. Which peoples? As best that I can tell, it is primarily inspired by the indigenous people of Siberia. One drawback to the game is that it has no sound. At all. No ambient music, no bumps or thumps or clicks on screen. Nothing. It really took me out of the experience, because I honestly kept thinking about how there was no sound, and kept fiddling with the volume.
The only connection I can really make between the protagonist and the Kutkh of lore, is that maybe the people that encounter and help the alien go on to tell stories of the alien, but call him Kutkh? Or maybe it comes after Kutkh has entered the zeitgeist, and the people find similarities between the alien and their trickster god? I'm not exactly sure, and it is really only something that has occurred to be days after having completed the story for the first time.
One Eyed Kutkh is a simple experience. The art style is cool, but the lack of music and challenge are a little off putting. I feel that this would have made an excellent first level to a more fleshed out game with similar mechanics...maybe have the protagonist need to find pieces of the spaceship spread out a bit more than the immediately surrounding area? It would probably make a great game to hand off to a young child to figure out, but it's not worth the asking price. Even at the low price of $4.99, this feels more like an ad-supported app that you'd get for free on your phone or tablet, play through once, and never touch again.
One Eyed Kutkh on eShop
Nintendo eShop Card on Amazon