Spectacular but a Letdown – Kurtzpel Closed Beta

On the 21st of February through the 25th Kurtzpel, an anime-style fighting game from KOG studios, ran its Closed Beta Test which I was lucky enough to be a part of. I had high hopes for this game when I found its steam page in January; however, after playing a good 10 hours on the Closed Beta I can say that the game is neither good nor bad, it is spectacular but also a letdown.

Let’s start with the gameplay. The fighting mechanics are very well developed and fluid, something I have been waiting for in an anime fighting game for a long time since Jump Force and My Hero One’s Justice were both disappointing. The 4 main classes or ‘karmas’ of Kurtzpel each have unique weapons, A Bow, Gauntlets, A Sword or A Staff. Each weapon has its own unique play-style which is very interesting and rather intuitive being rather easy to learn but hard to master. For example, despite both being ranged classes, the bow is better played by constantly running and gunning whereas the staff should be played by gaining distance and then unleashing a devastating attack, then rinse and repeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the combat in the game and even though it is rather repetitive in the play-style it doesn’t feel that way as the game keeps you constantly The only issue is that once you are being attacked at close range, there aren’t many options or ways to escape it, and you have to wait for the chain of devastating attacks to be over and your health bar to decrease by 50%. engrossed in the battle ahead and planning your next move. Kurtzpel demonstrated extraordinary battle mechanics, and that was a huge plus.

The PvP and multiplayer aspects of this game were great, with small flaws. The Conquest and Capture the Flag gamemodes were where I spent the least of my time considering how regular they were. They were fun to play but nothing compared to the classic deathmatch mode. In the deathmatch (and the others) it’s a 2v2 between ‘Chasers’. These battles are tough and very enjoyable. I found myself spending most of my time in the beta playing these and attempting to rank up. Everyone employed different tactics in these games, making the PvP experience extremely thrilling. Unfortunately, you can only party with one other player in Kurtzpel making the game impractical for those of us who like playing in friend groups of 4 or 5. That became a defining factor in how much I played the game. Another issue is that once you finish a game in one of the modes you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can launch into that mode again, and therefore I had to wait 10-ish minutes in between deathmatches, which was a pain I couldn’t understand why they included.

The art style of Kurtzpel is a classic anime palette. The colours are vibrant and work very well. The game is certainly not lacking in the graphics and animation department. The game itself is also optimised extremely well, running at a solid 60+ fps on a budget laptop card like the GTX 1050 Ti. However, in the ‘hub’ where players gather to modify equipment, party and launch missions and PvP games the game performance drops significantly and is very choppy. Server-side improvement is certainly required in that aspect.

Character customisation is a huge part of the game. As the game begins it assigns you a trait according to questions it asks you. As far as I can tell, this does not make much of a difference in overall gameplay. You can customise your characters hair, eyes, body and pretty much everything. Options for classic anime hairstyles also exist such as Rem’s hairstyle from Re:Zero. This is a huge plus for Kurtzpel and I spent a good 30-40 minutes in character creation adding highlights to my hair and defining features to my character.

Kurtzpel‘s biggest downfall however, is in it’s story and campaign/missions. The opening to the game is a cinematic which is beautifully done despite the constant screen-tearing which is also common throughout the rest of the game. The story doesn’t feel as engrossing as I thought it would be but it is still a classic Good Vs Evil story, where the Good is wrongly seen as the Evil. But that is not my biggest issue. The missions which comprise the campaign are playable in Co-Op with another online player in your party but they are barebones. Each mission comprises of a short cinematic, followed by a good and tough fight in a confined area followed by Visual Novel style character dialogue. These are boring. The fights are fun but they are the whole mission. There is no moving around from enemy to enemy, or exploring a dungeon. These missions are straight up terrible. This is a huge wasted opportunity for Kurtzpel considering that due to it’s incredible fighting mechanics, the game would’ve been awesome in an open-world or even with dungeons to explore, loot and kill monsters in. However, the game does not have that, and its idea of missions is a boring cinematic, followed by a good fight, and then more dialogue. Wasted Opportunity.

Final Verdict:

Kurtzpel leaves a some to be desired. Its spectacular combat mechanics and anime art style match perfectly and its wide array of Character Customization options allow you to create whichever character suits your liking. The PvP is well designed and extremely enjoyable; however, the compulsory cooldown between PvP gamemodes is unreasonable and irritating. The game is well optimised except in the lobbies and runs at 60 fps on budget laptop cards like the 1050 Ti with only 8gb of RAM. The missions and campaign are a letdown and a dungeon exploring or open world format would’ve made this game much better and would have earned a recommendation from me.

Final Score: It’s… fun (7.6/10)

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