Rise of the Kasai

Overview

Some of my favorite games of all time have been ones that could be considered "sleeper hits", or in other words games in which not many people heard about but turn out to be great games nonetheless. Thus was the case with The Mark of Kri, which combined a beautiful visual style with solid gameplay. Now about three years later we get a sequel to this beloved game entitled Rise of the Kasai for the PS2. So does this game capture the same sort of magic as the original? Read our full review to find out!

Gameplay

One of the great things about The Mark of Kri was that it went out of the box and did something different from everyone else. Far too often do we see the same sort of games over and over again. With the Mark of Kri, we got introduced to some unique ideas, like the targeting system, which makes use of the right analog stick to target enemies and map them out on the four face buttons. The little things in The Mark of Kri really made it impressive and one of the standout sleeper titles for that year.

What is neat about the Rise of the Kasai is that it kind of takes you before and after the storyline of the first game. This allows you to really get a more complete story, but also comes at a cost. The cost is that it’s not the easiest storyline to understand; in fact I am not going to attempt to explain it in fear of mixing things up. So with that being said, I will just say that if you do give the game some time, you will figure out what is going on. Once that happens I found it pretty interesting because the game does have some twists and turns, and the storyline just seems to once again gain my interest.

One of the unique features to this year’s game is the fact that there re two players on screen at one time. That means that you will be controlling one of those characters and the computer controls the other. So basically at the beginning of each level you pick a character for you and your computer partner. This was a risky endeavor by the developers, because we all have seen games in the past that have failed miserably at this due to AI issues. And unfortunately this does cause a problem in the game, as the AI is nowhere near as good as it needed to be for this to work. There are plenty of times where the computer just acts stupid and instead of helping you, it gets stuck or just stands like as if he was posing for a picture.

Another big downside for the game is the combat system, which hasn’t changed all that much from the Mark of Kri. The combat remains mostly the same, having you move the right analog stick to target the enemies and then pulling off some rather nice combos. I like the system and all but to just leave it with very little to be talked of in regards of upgrades to the system. The one thing that really hurts the system is the enemies, which actually seem less educated then in the previous game. To be honest it just seems like the enemies are dumb founded when they see you. You will probably notice that these enemies just don’t seem to know how to fight and therefore stand around a lot and don’t do a whole lot.

Overall I must say that the gameplay of Rise of the Kasai just does not seem all that much improved over the previous game. The combat is still entertaining and the action on screen still works, but the game just introduces new problems that weren’t there before. Although the ideas were there with the game, the execution was not, and therefore we have a game that is nowhere near as well made as they could have been.

Graphics

One of the best parts of The Mark of Kri was the presentation, which showed off some of the best cut-scenes ever seen in a video game. Just the sheer look of the cut-scenes was honestly amazing, and this feature is still around in the Rise of the Kasai. The cut scenes in this game are equally as impressive and really portray the story in a beautiful fashion.

Once you’re in the game, the graphics do improve some over the previous game but not enough to compete with some of the other great action games already out there. You could see that the character models this year have been improved with much more detail and quite a bit of color. When you make your way to the environments you really get a mixed bag with this game. You have some great looking levels and them some not so hot looking levels.

Overall Rise of the Kasai is a good looking game that just doesn’t make it to great because of some lackluster environments and a camera angle that can get in the way at times.

Fun Factor

What I liked so much about The Mark of Kri was that it was different and that was really essentially what made the game fun. With the Rise of the Kasai you don’t get a very fun experience, because you are playing a game that is very similar to the first. Throughout the game you kind of get the feeling like "been here done that" sort of thing, and the game just does not feel all that new compared to the original. Also it would have been nice had you been able to play some co-op in the game, as that would have made the second character on screen a whole lot more useful.

Overall

Rise of the Kasai really disappointed me if you couldn’t tell already. The game really just does not manage to recapture the glory that was found in the original. If you were a big fan of the original then you may find some likeable things in the game, otherwise this game is probably one that you could probably just use as a solid rental selection.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.