Isn’t this just the perfect title for a rhythm-game where the main-character uses batons for attacks? Being quite an interesting concept, Klang tries to combine the rhythm and performing genre into one package, which actually makes perfect sense if you think about it. Every speedrunner of a platformer, be it sidescroller or 3D, needs a form of rhythm with tight button-presses, so having this become the core concept of Klang actually makes for a perfect match, like peanut butter and chocolate. I am ready to literally dive into the world of soundwaves and become one with the beats.
It is all in the rhythm
The story is not a concern honestly, as it is there to just get us started. To give a brief summary: our protagonist and playable character is being bullied by the Soundlord Sonus and his lackeys, and is now ready to take vengeance and his place as the rhythm-king/God. It is all there just to give you a reason to travel through places like Pirate Bay, so it is a fun setup if only a stylish reason to make you travel on these soundwaves.
With Tuneblades in hand, Klang describes itself as Dance Dance Revolution meets Ninja Gaiden, and that is not a bad description at all. Our hero can move fast towards left and right, a jump and duck/slide with the shoulder-buttons. Yes, you jump with one of the shoulder-buttons. The reason for this is that you use the face-button or the right analog-stick for deflecting attacks from seven directions, with the down-motion attacking. These moves have to be performed when a meter pops up in the direction the attack comes from, which is a smart move for showcasing when to deflect and attack. The combat can be incredibly hectic, as you must listen to the rhythm in order to get the perfect hit, with the visual cues being there for support in where to react towards.
Though the combat is hectic, that is not only what will keep you on your toes. The environment where you must jump, wall-kick and slide while deflecting attacks is just as panic-inducing and you will be multitasking and tested to the utmost. Segments in levels can either be focused on battles with hazards around you, or you running through levels with enemies being the obstacle. It is always engaging, as no attack comes without a warning, and stages are short enough to not let any death feel annoying. What is somewhat odd though, is that there are a ton of bottomless pits with platforms being stretched quite far, but you do have a life-bar that refills as you make perfect deflects against enemies. It is an uneven concept where the platforming is more dangerous than the combat, but more of an oddity than anything else. I just wish the platforms were more lenient so jumps were easier to distinguish, similar to how combat is easier to read, despite how fast it all can come.
The creativity does not stop with this concept however, as there are some clever ideas with every stage, such as searchlights based on the rhythm in stealth-parts and platforms that can be created by deflecting shots. These are always entertaining as they are all based on rhythm, and the same goes for the boss-fights that challenge you to your fullest. This is a challenging game, but fair in every way with a clear beat and visual cues, so I never had an issue with the difficulty. There is an easy-mode and a reflex-mode where the game slows down after a hit, but the game is about its beautiful challenge, so neglecting it with such alternatives should only be tackled if you absolutely can’t go further. Like the game instructed.
By finishing each level, you will get a score depending on how well you did and you can always check your progress with one of the back-buttons. It is incredibly addictive and fast-paced, providing fun challenge throughout, despite jumps being hard to distinguish at times. Sadly, the game is incredibly short and can be beaten within 2 hours at most. It still provides tons of fun creativity, but there could definitely have been more to the levels, as the ideas are strong and well-executed, but some levels repeat concepts without making them more diverse or more challenging than previously. Still, it is an engaging mix of action-platformer with rhythm from start to finish, ending with a wonderful bossfight that will leave you with the biggest smile if you can beat it.
Gameplay Score: 8/10
Entering a world that represents Tron and a neon-style computer-world, Klang places focus on one color-light at a time with wired-setups to create a digitized environment that represents our own in neat ways, with a fondness for orange and blue. Wired-framed bats in a forest full of pulsing mushrooms, a blue wasteland with antique statues of headphone-wearing Gods, and more, create an intriguing land that mixes fantasy-genres and metallic sci-fi. Sadly, there is a lot of reuse of the same landscapes that can create deja-vu, including enemies. It is definitely creative, just not diverse enough to provide variation.
The tons of visual candy like the explosion and vast mixes of colors when things get hectic are lovely. However, they can obstruct the view, giving you a hard time to see which direction to react to first, even with the helpful icons. Though this is about it for issues, and there are visual options to help neglect this should they be too much. I do, as a side-note, love the details all around as well, such as crowds raving under the platforms, how the hero headbangs to the beats, and the play and stop-buttons represent an old VHS-menu on the pause-screen.
The CG-cutscenes are also lovely presented, with gorgeous acrobatics and fights that make them all intriguing and create an atmosphere and setup for what is going on stylishly with no voice work, making you emotionally invested. Though of course, what is the most important part of any rhythm-game is the soundtrack and was I ever impressed. I am not familiar with the EDM composer bLiNd, but the score he made for Klang makes me wish I was. The music is diverse, has fantastic progression, tons of beats and contains different chill-steps and electro tracks, providing a grand score with tons of atmosphere and great attention to beat and rhythm. Every single beat is in perfect sync with the visuals, and you will get hooked in easily by the pulsing environment alone.
Presentation Score: 7.5/10
While the game is short, there is a lot to come back to for some great replay-value. With each stage, you are getting a score on how well you performed with the S-rank being the hardest to achieve. Gaining this score is satisfying for the challenge alone, but should this still be too easy, you will unlock Nightcore difficulty after beating the game, where you will definitely get a challenge far beyond what the common man can tackle. If that was not enough, there are also hidden stages you can find to test your skills that unlock the awesome soundtrack in a test-room. While some levels do repeat concepts, they are still engaging with new rhythms to tackle, providing enough sense to go back and SSS-rank every level, due to the enjoyment alone.
Extra Score: 8.5/10
With every beat, Klang is definitely a great mix of two genres that shows a lot of promise. I wish the game was longer with more creativity, and the visuals could use more diverse setup and less flare for obscuring the button-inputs timing. However, the challenge is always fair, the action is fast-paced and tests your ability to multitask, going for best rank is always a good time, and the soundtrack is superb. Combine this with intriguing visuals and creative concepts, and you are in for a good score. Definitely short, but not on quality.