The sheer purity of kuso is almost disconcerting. A simple 2D platformer with no major traversal mechanics besides running and jumping, it’s quite a difficult sell to the seasoned platform veteran. You have the ability to drop checkpoints instantly (a little like Ori and the Blind Forest), which means you’re likely to see the back of the initial 25-level campaign in roughly 45 minutes. This, we acknowledge, is not a lot of minutes.
They’re certainly fun minutes, mind. Each level is an obstacle course of gorgeously designed pixellated complexity, with a constant stream of new and interesting obstacles to navigate. Combat is a complete no-show, it’s all about timing, athleticism and pure daring. Each stage will take you up, over and all around as you make your way from start to finish, with no collectable nonsense standing between you and sheer platforming skills. It’s incredibly straightforward, with extremely clean visuals. Basic stuff, but designed marvellously, evoking a barren and hostile mechanical aesthetic across its 25 stages. Given the low price, this would already be enough for a pretty good score. But that’s far from all you’re getting.
Key to kuso’s appeal is the myriad additional content available, and the way it’s presented. As well as the main kuso campaign, you also get the levels from its predecessor, LOVE (also available separately on Switch, for some reason), as well as a clutch of extra levels from Love+ and its original incarnation. Each stage can be tackled individually from the Level Select, and played in speedrun mode (adding a frame counter to the screen and recording your best times) and YOLO mode, which is what it sounds like – no checkpoints, only one attempt to get to the end. Clearing this grants you medals which ultimately unlock achievements. Selecting these bonus modes, though, can be a tiny bit awkward, with speedrun mode in particular being easy to accidentally snap out of to the wrong level; you’ll want to be holding right when you start, after all. A pre-level countdown would solve this small issue.
The achievements are themselves worthy of comment – rather than just the usual “do everything, get every medal” stuff, they’re actually interesting challenges that push you to beat levels in different ways, or try new approaches. Some of these can be made easier using the ability to slow down time using the triggers – it’s possibly a little too much of a crutch – but your timing will still need to be precise to pull off every condition required of you to achieve 100%.
Played either as a whole package with unlimited lives, or in hard mode with only a few, kuso is as challenging as you want it to be. You can play the kuso and LOVE campaigns separately or joined together as one mega-campaign. Then you’ll have all the extra bonus stages and easter eggs to find. Paired with the hypnotic graphics and astonishingly atmospheric soundtrack from James Bennett, kuso is both accessible and difficult, and it’s a little gem on the Switch. Well worth your £3.99.
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