What does one do when confronted with the destruction of your home town thanks to the designs of an evil corporation that seeks to exploit it for reasons unknown? Well if your name is Kim and you're a dab hand at roller skating and hitting things with a meat cleaver then you strap on said skates and hit as many things as you can with your weapon of choice, apparently.
Oh, and you can only move in straight lines thanks to being on roller skates. What I have described to you is Keen, a game I have encountered before at other expos but it was at PAX West 2017 that I saw it shine as it is very close to being complete.
Keen is based on the sliding puzzle games of old which many reading this preview may remember playing in their childhood. I remember having a Batman one and for some inexplicable reason and I actually enjoyed solving it to the point where I could complete it in less than a minute. The same could never be said for Rubik's Cubes though; I could never get my head around those.
Anyway, Keen uses a similar mechanic in that the player simply pushes Kim down paths that she slides along until she hits something solid that bars her path. As she does this she hits things with her meat cleaver. Early in Keen monsters take a single swipe to hit, but later on multiple hits are required and all of a sudden the depth of Keen becomes clear very quickly.
The enemies I encountered when playing the demo of Keen quickly became more of a threat as I made my way through levels. They moved every time Kim did, which then forces the player to predict where they will be in relation to Kim. Ideally they should all be lined up so that Kim can blast through them as she skates by. To get that to happen is no mean feat and with awards being given for the fewest moves made by the player to guide Kim through levels, fudging around is not going to help with that goal any.
The presentation of Keen is excellent. It's very clean and the environments have a soft focus relief to them that emphasises Kim and the enemies she faces as well as items to collect and interact with. The sound is also excellent with a great score that reflects the fast tempo of the game.
As you may have gathered I really liked Keen and I'm looking forward to seeing it arrive in Spring 2018 on every platform you can think of, with the possible exception of the Charles Babbage Difference Engine port.