Design Impressions: Kiai Resonance
I happened to find Kiai Resonance on sale during Steam’s last winter sale, and decided to buy it despite never having heard of it. Luckily my curiosity paid off, because it turned out to be a pretty fun game with a distinctive and memorable art style.
• Simple, straightforward core rule set.
• Three sword stances provide a loose RPS advantage framework with a few situational nuances, while smooth movement and fluid timing add analog granularity, uncertainty, and tension.
○ Starting from defensive stance (called Forward Position) with steady neutral auto-block and a slow attack …
○ Countered by aggressive stance (called Up Position) with quick blockable and slow unblockable attacks …
○ Countered by reversal stance (called Back Position) which can beat predictable attacks with a properly timed dodge/counter.
• Any successful attack or counter ends the round, so there’s no need/space for combos.
• Sword struggle/push interactions are left out of Tutorials and unexplained, despite being featured in a Challenge trial and being essential for dealing with overly passive Back stance.
○ Whoever presses Hit first during a Duel struggle gains frame advantage, but the loser is forced into Forward stance and can block any incoming attack simply by not attacking.
• Judging attack recovery is essential for weighing followup options, but feels a bit muddy due to smooth anims; could use sharper breakout.
• Getting used to switching stances fluidly takes quite a bit of time, especially with the sparsely explained control pad layout.
○ Reviewing default layouts and remapping controls helps.
Single Player Experience
• Easiest way to beat AI for achievements is enabling Rush mode and using Back stance to counter when within range.
○ This strategy works 75% of the time, and usually leads to 50/50 neutral when it does fail.
• There are some pretty fun trials, but instant death is definitely a drag whenever it happens frequently.
• A lot of players probably churn out if they can’t make it through enough trials to understand the whole flowchart.
○ Even then it feels like guesswork sometimes, especially during rigged trials such as Against The Wind and any trial requiring three consecutive wins.
Disclaimer #1: This is not a review of the game. These scattered notes are just my personal impressions as a player. Please don’t take them too seriously.
Disclaimer #2: I’m not trying to say i could do better by any means. If i point out a flaw, it’s usually because i think it’s interesting; not to criticize anyone involved. There are countless reasons why a feature might be imperfect, buggy, or incomplete. Game development is a chaotic human endeavor, and it’s very rarely easy to figure out why something went wrong. Anyway it’s a safe bet that the dev team thought of most ideas or solutions i might suggest, but they couldn’t be implemented due to some unfortunate constraint.