One Eyed Kutkh
Developer: Baba Yaga Games
Publisher: Sometimes You
Release Date: 9 March 2018
Price: $4.99 / £4.49
Reviewed by Pat Lunn
It’s Oscar season once again folks and here at Nintendo Village we have the gaming equivalent Oscar-bait with Sometimes You’s One Eyed Kutkh. Based on the myths and legends of northern Russia, One Eyed Kutkh follows a Mr Blobby-esque traveler who crashes on a strange planet and must navigate the culture to find a way home. It’s a combination of adventure game and puzzler, offering mild challenge for anyone familiar to either genre.
Art Over Gameplay
There is no dialogue in the game. From the moment you start, everything, including the settings menu and the title screen, is presented to you in a cave-painting art style. It’s not one that's all that common, but the developers pulled it off brilliantly. The opening of the story is delivered in pictures alone, yet still manages to convey all the meaning you need to become invested.
There has been a lot of attention paid to the slight mannerisms of the character to give him, or her, a personality. This creates a world and narrative that is universal; anyone could follow this story no matter what cultural background they’re from. Unfortunately, this universality comes at the cost of gameplay. As the pictorial style can’t convey many high concepts, One Eyed Kutkh often settles for simple decision trees, many options looping you around until you make the ‘correct’ choice. It’s not much of a game at all in this respect, instead playing out as more of an interactive story, similar to Telltale’s adventure games. But in many ways, that's the game's biggest strength.
A Storytelling Experiment
This is a gorgeous experience. It looks beautiful and the sound design is stunning - offering a warm yet melancholic tone. With a strong cultural background and an important story to tell, gameplay is kind of low on the list of priorities. One Eyed Kutkh instead offers something different.
One Eyed Kutkh feels more like a motion comic book, relying on the reader to fill in the gaps left by the absence of dialogue - just like we fill in the gaps left by the absence of motion in a comic. I could run you through the story, but I don’t feel I could truly do it justice as it's a tale that fits the medium it’s presented in. All I can say is that it offers a sense of discovery and spectacle unlike many traditional titles.
When these strong elements of design combine, One Eyed Kutkh becomes something new and experimental, far removed from the world of traditional gaming. It might not be a perfect example of the techniques it’s trying to demonstrate, but to my knowledge, it’s the first to use many of them. If I had one major gripe, it would be that the story is a little on the short side (only taking around an hour to complete) and it all feels too linear; both signs of a limited budget and tight deadlines.
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a game with such a short lifespan and limited gameplay but I’m willing to make an exception in the case of One Eyed Kutkh. If you’re curious about Russian culture, or just the nature of storytelling and it’s future in gaming, then One Eyed Kutkh is one to check out. It’s the perfect experience to while away an evening and offers a fresh new style, unlike anything you’ve ever played.
Pros & Cons
+ Superb art and sound
+ Innovative game design
+ Interesting cultural background
- Short playtime
- No replayability