Kuso is a 2D platformer that prides itself in being “challenging yet fair”. Kuso is the sequel to 2014’s LOVE and, to it’s pride, Kuso doesn’t mess around in its difficulty, but at the same time, it keeps puzzles and platforming fair. There’s no Castlevania-esque hardships for the sake of it. I received a Steam copy to cover back when the game out, but for this review I played on the Nintendo Switch. I also have not played LOVE at all, so let’s see how well a newcomer can jump in.

Kuso begins by giving the player a simple tutorial, it’s non-intrusive and can be returned to at any time from the menu. After that you’re given a few different games modes to choose from: Unlimited, Arcade, Hard, Speedrun, and Level Select. Most of the modes allow you to play the same levels in slightly different ways. Such as with limited lives or a time-limit. This is appreciated for replayability, but not something I’m personally into. Kuso has twenty-five levels for you to play, it also includes LOVE which is another sixteen levels, and lastly there are ten bonus levels.

Kuso as a platformer plays fine enough, the character immediately moves whenever the stick is tilted. This should create fluidity, but it ends up feeling too snappy, which is not good for a platformer. You, as the player, can create a singular check-point anywhere in the stage, but there are quite a few restrictions to this, which makes it fair. For example, you can only be on the ground to generate check-points. If something that would kill you touches your check-point, it destroys the check-point. So, you have to be careful where you’re placing your lifeline. If your check-point is destroyed, your spawn is set back to the start of the level. As such, if you die you’re restarting the level, however, if you survive to place another check-point, no penalty is dished out. There is also a remote kill button, I found absolutely no use for it, and its existence absolutely baffles me. Kuso does a good job keeping you hooked though, even with the odd controls.

Kuso’s presentation is very simplistic. Usually all you’re looking at is solid or flashing colors, at points, this can create an epilepsy concern. Animation usually looks fluid while rigid, something I much appreciate as a callback to the NES era of gaming. Kuso’s sound design is where it needs to be for a satisfying platformer. Jumping and check-point placing don’t get annoying, death is alerting yet satisfactory, and the level completion noise makes your ears feel good. Kuso is no slouch in music either, not many repeating tracks can be heard, and the music has this nice modern/8-bit clash to it that sounds great. It usually gets you worked up, while not over-hyping any scenario.

Kuso’s levels are usually short, around thirty to eighty seconds, but they’re designed in brilliant ways. Each level introduces on to three gameplay gimmicks that it teaches you in a safe environment, then it moves to a more risky one, and finally merges them together. This is brilliant game-design on it’s own, but kuso also attempts to guide the player with level and mechanic design that is simple to understand. There are only a few level gimmicks that lend themselves to unfair levels. As such, the game is difficult, yet relaxing in a way.

The LOVE levels are good, but noticeably less quality than kuso’s original levels, they attempt and succeed at the same basic fundamentals. These levels make me want to attempt LOVE, something I may do in the future. The bonus levels are generally decent. You have a mix of LOVE+ levels, remixes, and a credits stage. All around, it’s not terrible to play through, but I enjoyed the other forty-one levels more. One major issue in general is that some hazards are hard to see because of the art style, because things blend in and patterns bleed together since most objects are white. That being said, it is usually not too bad.

Kuso is a very enjoyable experience. It’s not a particularly long game, but it’s got a lot more going for it in length than other games I’ve reviewed. The main levels will run you about fifty minutes, though they’re not all kuso has to offer. There’s also two player co-op and other modes like Speedrun. Your enjoyment of those modes all depend on your taste as they aren’t much different than the regular experience. If you’re looking for challenging and meaty game, this may not be for you. If you want something tough but fair, and don’t care about length, this might be right up your alley. If this review intrigued you, there is a free demo on Steam, I recommend you check it out if you’re at all interested. Kuso is well worth the seal I’m giving it.

Kuso was developed by Fred Wood

Kuso is available on Steam and Nintendo Switch

Available for $4.99 on all platforms

A Steam review copy was provided by the developer

supiroguy has awarded kuso The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval