Developed by the Italian indie studio Caracal Games and published by Ignition, OkunoKA Madness is a hardcore (emphasis on the HARDCORE) platformer in which you control Ka, our little blue hero, who needs to save the Soul World. To help Ka carry out this task, you will run, jump, avoid obstacles and traps, face dangerous bosses, and die a lot (emphasis on A LOT).
From whom we need to protect this world from is something that is not all that clear when you start this adventure. Both the publisher’s website and the Xbox store mention the evil Os as your dangerous arch-nemesis, but as we progress in this adventure we will barely know who he is and what he’s up to. We’re introduced to this mechanical menace by a beautiful cutscene at the beginning of the game… but that’s all the explanation you will get at this point – and up to the point I’ve got in this challenging game.
And now we mentioned its beautiful visuals, let me tell you how astonishing they are. My Gosh! Its colorful scenarios are mindboggling! The extreme dedication from its developers can be perceived in those awe-inspiring details and animations – with a special mention to the intimidating bosses you will be facing. I simply loved how rich in detail each different layer is… truly remarkable! The audio of this game stays no far behind: the music is simply adorable! It perfectly fits the visuals of this title, creating an engaging atmosphere right from the beginning!
Now about the gameplay… well, this is going to be the line of division to figure out if this is a game for you or not. OkunoKA Madness is all about running and jumping to the end of the stage as fast as you can. As you advance in the game, you will get the ability to activate/deactivate special platforms that are color sensitive: when the blue ability is selected, only blue platforms will be active, while the red and yellow remain deactivated. It is simple, but still very punitive: touch an enemy or trap and you will go back to the beginning of the level. As there are leaderboards for how fast you can complete a level, chances are high that you will be aiming for the S rank in all stages. And here lays my greatest frustration with this game: the imprecision of your jumping. I had so much trouble with the wall jumping to accomplish levels: the timing, the response… this main characteristic of the gameplay felt really problematic and will eventually cause some damage to your controller (when you throw it at the wall, for instance).
In some of its hundreds (!) of levels, you will find whirlwinds that take you to secret stages that you will play in the dark, adding an extra level of challenge to these already hard-to-beat levels. In most of its levels, you will also find purple spirits that once collected can be used to unlock new characters (with cool visuals and slightly different abilities). Unlocking them all will prove a tough challenge!
And if you believe things are still too easy for you in Story mode, you can always venture into the Madness or Time Attack modes. Who knows, maybe you enjoy some level of suffering and frustration… Not judging!
Even with its marvelous visuals and its impressive amount of content, I find it difficult to recommend OkunoKA Madness. Can’t say that the gameplay was envisioned to be this frustrating, but it, unfortunately, crosses the border between challenging and unfair. Truth be said, this is a hardcore game, aimed for speedrunners, and as I don’t fit under this label, I simply have the feeling this game isn’t for me. Like you, I enjoy challenging games, but this one is beyond challenging!
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.