Kwaan – An Indie Game Review

Kwaan – An Indie Game Review
3.5

Platforms:

Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Game Name:

Kwaan

Publisher(s):

Ankama Games

Developer(s):

Ankama Canada

Genre(s):

Adventure, MMORPG

Release Date:

January 21st, 2016

Kwaan – What We think:

There’s just something about a pixelated-styled game that emits a feeling of nostalgia, and Kwaan emphasizes that emotion beautifully. When I began my journey through Kwaan for the first time, happiness occupied my heart.

Well, for the most part anyway.

Unveiled as a unique combination of an online ecosystem/RPG/pixel editor, you’re teaming up with others to save the world and its ecosystem from its ultimate demise: pollution.

Out on a Limb

Most importantly, you are working with your peers to keep Kwaan, the “tree god,” gratified by overcoming various tasks. If sadness burdens the Kwaan tree, the world in its entirety will end, meaning the server will literally reset itself and you will have to rebuild your world from scratch.

Needless to say, it’s vital to prioritize Kwaan’s happiness above everything else.

Kwaan game screenshot, Kwaan tree

Developed by Ankama, Kwaan begins with creating your own personal Dwaal, which is your delightful petite creature of nature. Starting out, I immediately felt the peace that emanated from the environment. It was enchanting with its pixelated visuals and happy-go-lucky atmosphere. After dawdling around, it was time to participate in the ongoing tasks that revolved around maintaining that peaceful setting.

Twigging Out

I will openly admit that at first I did the typical girl thing and became embarrassingly giddy at how adorably this game presents itself. It radiates joy with its colorful landscapes and charming, tiny creatures.

Kwaan game screenshot, in game

Throughout the stage, your Dwaal will collect little gems called Maana, which are vital in many circumstances for you and for other online players. For example, Maana is used to summon animals for the rituals of Kwaan. In order to summon the offerings, you must have specific materials which are directly listed for you under the Crits category in your Dwaal’s backpack. Once all of your key items are collected, the ritual begins.

Manna Words

Within this ritual, you and other accompanying Dwaals begin to dance, and it is absolutely delightful. This helps maintain the Kwaan tree’s happiness and can be done up to three times per day.

You can even customize your Dwaal in a personalized manner. This is done within the comfort of your Dwaal home, but most styles are locked starting out. For the time being, my Dwaal is absolutely stunning in its maroon mushroom hat. What can I say? It’s pretty dang adorable.

Kwaan game screenshot, my Dwaal

Kwaan is distinctive in that it allows you to add your own personal artwork to the Kwaan tree itself using “pixels” that are gathered throughout the stage. This is accomplished by picking a spot on the tree and opening the pixel editor.

It’s actually pretty neat, because the tree is basically a giant canvas and is personalized by the online community as a whole. Not only is the pixel editor a creative addition, but it also increases the Kwaan tree’s initial contentment.

If the Kwaan tree isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.

Kwaan game screenshot, Pixel Editor

After obsessing over how cute Kwaan was, I recognized that the appealing aspects clouded my judgement a bit. The mechanics are a bit of a head-scratcher, and there are a variety of concerning features that weren’t satisfactory.

For example, you cannot jump.

Kwaan-tum Physics

Alright, so I realize that that missing mechanic isn’t too big of a deal, but it was definitely an adjustment. In addition to not being able to jump, Kwaan lacks direction in many categories. Half of the time I had no idea what I was doing.

Your only known guide is a tiny yellow bird named Koo Koo that occasionally gives you hints on your next move or comments with sporadic humor. Otherwise, there is no visual map whatsoever or any significant clues to guide you to prospering as a Dwaal.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I love to prosper.

Kwaan game screenshot, Koo Koo

Furthermore, Kwaan is the type of game where it’s essential you have a grasp on its basic game mechanics. I highly recommend that you carefully read through the guide on the Steam page as well as clicking through the slides in game through the “How to Play” option within the Option Menu. There is a handful of rituals and quests that are occurring simultaneously, and it’s crucial that your Dwaal is familiar with its surroundings.

Olive Branch

In all honesty, Kwaan isn’t a game for everyone. It requires teamwork above everything else, and if you prefer to venture out lone wolf style, it will be difficult to be successful.

Within the world of Kwaan are a handful of impeccable qualities, including the charming and lighthearted atmosphere it presents to its players, but there are negative aspects that do not go unnoticed. With some alterations and concrete direction, I believe it could continue to grow to be a wonderful experience.

Kwaan is available through Steam.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Watch the trailer for Kwaan below:

Amanda Bower

Amanda has adored the video game industry since she battled through countless battles with Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog. She spends a majority of her time with her gaming computer, otherwise you can find her devouring pizza and watching Shrek.

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