REVIEW – Kudzu

Embark on a nostalgic journey reminiscent of classic top-down action adventures with Kudzu, a recent release for the Nintendo Switch that harkens back to the golden era of The Legend of Zelda games. In this non-linear adventure, players assume the role of Max, an apprentice gardener on a mission to save his mentor from the clutches of a world-eating plant. While Kudzu captures the essence of its retro inspirations, it falls short in some key areas, resulting in a mixed gameplay experience.

At its core, Kudzu offers simple controls reminiscent of its Game Boy predecessors. Movement is limited to four directions, with only two action buttons for interacting with people/objects and engaging in combat. While the streamlined control scheme stays true to its roots, the absence of diagonal movement may feel restrictive to some players.

One notable departure from traditional action-adventure games is the lack of a defensive option. Unlike in Zelda games, players must rely on quick reflexes and evasive maneuvers to avoid enemy attacks, as there is no shield mechanic. While most enemies are easily avoidable, projectile-firing foes like spiders add an element of unpredictability and frustration to encounters.

The initial stages of Kudzu offer a promising experience, with engaging gameplay and a captivating soundtrack that perfectly complements the game’s nostalgic aesthetic. The graphics strike a delicate balance between classic and contemporary, breathing new life into the familiar top-down perspective.

However, as the game progresses, several issues begin to emerge. Backtracking becomes a common occurrence as players grind for mushrooms (the in-game currency) to purchase essential items like maps and a compass. While reminiscent of old-school game design, the repetitive nature of this process can become tedious and detract from the overall enjoyment.

Furthermore, the inconsistency of enemy respawn rates and drop rates for mushrooms exacerbates the grinding process, hindering progression and impeding the player’s ability to quickly unlock new content.

Unfortunately, Kudzu struggles to maintain its initial allure. The menu is a bit clunky, as it takes time to load and move between selections. And there are serious issues with the hit-box. Sometimes I am nowhere near an enemy and still take damage. But other times, I can walk right into an enemy and walk away scott-free.

Despite its flaws, the game showcases ambition and potential, offering players a nostalgic trip down memory lane at a very affordable price point. While it may not yet reach the lofty heights of its inspirations, it serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of classic action-adventure gameplay.

In conclusion, Kudzu is a promising yet flawed adventure that demonstrates the developer’s passion for the genre. With some fine-tuning and adjustments, it has the potential to evolve into a standout title for fans of retro-inspired gaming. At its current price point, it’s worth considering for those seeking a budget-friendly trip down memory lane, but be prepared for some rough patches along the way.

Game Title: Kudzu
Platform: Switch/Game Boy
Developer: Chris Totten of Pie For Breakfast Studio
Publisher: 8 Bit Legit
ESRB: E for Everyone
MSRP: $4.99 US (Switch eShop) / $TBD (Game Boy)
Obtained: Code provided by developers/publishers for press purposes