Dark Light

KAKU: Ancient Seal is a semi-open-world action-adventure fantasy set in a pre-historic world and puts players in the role of Kaku, a young boy who’s tasked with going on a journey across a sprawling continent to restore balance to the land. Accompanied by your pet pig, you’ll have to brave the four elemental regions and conquer their lords if you’re to fulfill your destiny. 

KAKU: Ancient Seal has been developed by Shenzhen BINGOBELL and was released via Steam as an Early Access Title on May 4, 2023. A console release for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles has also been announced later this year.

Back to The Lost Era

Grounded on the four basic elements – wind, fire, water, and earth, the game is set in an ancient fantasy world. Players take on the part of Kaku, a youthful man from the snowy mountains. He dreams of seeing the world beyond the horizon. In order to recapture the power of these elements, Kaku must embark on an adventure with a magical flying piglet named Piji. 

Along the way, you will be upgrading your armor sets and learning new abilities. It’s now your fortune to face important monsters that have absorbed the power of the elements, and each of these areas has its own problems. The thing of Kaku is thus to break these problems in order to bring the essential core back to the flying islands and to the final mystery behind it all.

Despite being in Early Access, the entire story campaign can be completed by the players. All the voice-overs are based on a dialect of early civilizations, which gives it a unique charm. Most of the featured characters in the campaign largely resemble those of early cavemen. As for the plot, it is serviceable for its cause as the game largely keeps a ‘Breath of the Wild’ approach – keeping its focus largely on its interactive physics-based puzzles and exploration.

Why Early Access? 

As mentioned earlier, gameplay-wise, the game shares large similarities with Breath of the Wild minus the climbing/swimming stamina system. In combat, Kaku largely relies on his study clubs and slingshot alongside different types of armor and abilities to fight different types of adversaries to achieve his goal. There’s a decent variety of outfits and capacities, some of which change depending on how deep you’re in the skill tree. 

Once we’re in an area, we’re principally free to choose the direction of our journey. As we go, we will come across ancient sanctuaries where we will find small trials staying for us that are specifically designed for that area and its theme. We’ll also be suitable to find Crystal Towers, which serve as fast trip points. The completion of these halls will award you with quest items that are essential to the story.

Throughout the map, in a BoTW fashion, there are Ancient shrines filled with interactive physics-based puzzles. However, quite of few of these shrines have technical issues. At the time of writing, the overall sandbox could use more polish, as having interactive physics in the world is indeed a daunting task. Overall, the Early-Access release shows great promise that most of these issues will be ironed out in the final release.

A Visual Treat That Needs Polish

The game makes great use of the Unreal Engine. Despite its simplistic art style, the game carries complex details in its visual presentation. Like the new Zelda entry Tears of the Kingdom, the game renders floating islands and clouds with great detail. However, this also takes a great toll on the overall performance. During my playthrough on 3050Ti, there were severe frame drops in the floating island areas, with frame rates almost halved compared to the early sections at medium-high presets.

The game also needs more tweakable visual settings. During my testing, the shadow settings were the most taxing on the overall experience. At high settings, shadows reduced the frame rate by almost 40% without giving any significant boost to the visuals. Also, despite high-anti aliasing and anisotropic filtering, there was noticeable aliasing at some sections alongside occasional texture-popping and inconsistent lighting.

Preview Impressions

If you are a cavemen story enthusiast, Kaku: Ancient Seal just might seal the deal for you. Its Zelda-like approach in a pre-historic fantastical setting is mostly a joy to play and is quite a visual treat for the most part. Its visual glitches and at times in-responsive physics totally justifies the developer’s decision to release it as an early access title for the time being. Considering what I have played so far, the game appears to have a strong roadmap ahead. Given its decent price tag and abundance of content, it is an easy recommendation despite being an early-access title.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts