KAKU: Ancient Seal PC Review

Putting all your rocks in the wrong basket isn’t easily overlooked, but the basket is quite beautiful.

By R3GR3T, Posted 10 May 2023

BINGOBELL, like many other development studios all had to start somewhere, but where the norm would be to start small, they instead went absolutely massive with their first major release. However, they did actually release a small VR game called Tales of Glacier that went mostly unnoticed. Sadly, it’s closer to an honorable mention than a release.

Back to what matters. BINGOBELL’s first major release, KAKU: Ancient Seal, was released on 4 May and it was definitely quite well received by gamers. KAKU: Ancient Seal is an Open-World Action RPG that struck an odd balance between exploring and action, though you can’t just go out and explore the world as you see fit, there are certain conditions you’ll have to meet first before you can see the rest of the lands.


KAKU: Ancient Seal, Review, Screenshots, Open-World, Action, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

Your adventure in KAKU: Ancient Seal starts off with a brilliant but funny cinematic, showcasing Kaku, our beloved child protagonist, chasing what looks like an oddly mythical piglet. Though something always has to go wrong because this is also where you’ll get a quick glimpse at the King Boar. A little panic and some running, Kaku will come flying into Geiser, your semi-helpful guide, bearer of ancient knowledge, and Kaku’s caretaker from the looks of it.

After a thorough chewing out from Geiser, you’ll need to make a peace offering meal for him and this is where you take control, and also where you’ll get a brief tutorial on the basic controls and mechanics in the Snow Forest. You’ll be introduced to basic combat, dodging, gathering, and some crafting. However, it does become a lot more interesting as you go.

You’ll eventually get to the Ruins of Saga, a once powerful Pon-Pon who fell long ago. You’ll have to complete his trial at first to unlock the passage to the Floating Isle, and you’ll face off against King Boar. However, doing so caused some damage to containers that held the Elemental Souls that were now released. You’ll need to travel to each continent, find the hidden temples on each of them to face off against the once-trapped Elementals, and bring their souls back to restore the balance once more.


KAKU: Ancient Seal, Review, Screenshots, Open-World, Action, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

KAKU: Ancient Seal has a relatively expanded combat system but it also grows based on what you choose, this means your fighting abilities and power all depend on what you choose when upgrading. However, you’ll have your basic attack which involves just clobbering everything with a club and a simple shield for Poise damage. This is where things become a bit hairy. Between some of the more powerful enemies you’ll encounter and the hostile wildlife, you’ll need to do as much health damage as possible to kill your target or stun it through Poise damage.

Poise damage might not seem like much, but in the right situations, it can make a world of difference since it can stun enemies. As you’ll soon see, any enemy you’ll encounter will have a Health and Poise bar stacked on top of each other. Health is obvious but poise will only start going if you attack with your shield, bringing it all the way down will temporarily stun your target and allow you to get some serious damage in.

To carry on with complications, upgrading, and cooking can’t just be done on the fly. You’ll have to find the need to find Stele’s, these are not so readily available and are scattered around the Snow Forest at first. Later on, you’ll find all 4 Stele’s in a Star Altar where you can cook, buy upgrades for Kaku’s gear, upgrade his Life and Stamina, and even buy new abilities. This looks convenient but it’s also a hassle to have to find a Star Altar to do these things unless you have a fast travel point unlocked or it’s nearby. Though there are times when it’s simply not possible to reach one, leaving you without a paddle, so you’ll need to be prepared for anything.


KAKU: Ancient Seal, Review, Screenshots, Open-World, Action, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

When it comes to upgrades, you’ll need to hunt down materials for them. Through the various stones, ores, and other natural resources like Divine Glory, Essence, or even plants, you’ll find everything you’ll need around you on the ground and from the various enemies you’ll defeat. However, some resources are much scarcer than others, so it is advised not to burn through everything unless you’re sure you want what you’re buying.  

KAKU: Ancient Seal does at least give you a pretty wide ability tree to explore and grow, though while some abilities like the Air Dash are needed to progress the story, you’ll find that some abilities need polish to shine, like some of the shield abilities that turn out to be too slow to be useful in combat. The shield would be nice to use but channeling your inner caveman and just bludgeoning everything works nicely too, the extra abilities for your club more than makeup for the lack of shield in use in so many ways.

Combat doesn’t end with the club, that would make the game quite monotonous after all. You’ll also have a slingshot, it might not have the best damage, but its utility uses, and range attacks make it fun to use. Just like the club, it comes with its own upgrades, too on the ability tree that can make it a weapon of mass destruction. Where it really starts to shine is with the use of elemental Pellets, basically different ammunition types. Granted, these have to be crafted too using Burst Stones as a main component, you can choose between Fire, Thunder, and Poison Pellets, and each of them have its own interesting effects that can help turn the tide in your favor.


KAKU: Ancient Seal, Review, Screenshots, Open-World, Action, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

Unfortunately, KAKU: Ancient Seal still needs a lot of work from the looks of it. While it’s nice to have a shield and slingshot, they both have the issues that make them a hassle to use. The shield is a bit slow to use, and using it for blocking takes forever in a combat scenario. The slingshot needs to be toggled, normally this isn’t such a bad thing, but it also zooms the camera in and makes Kaku move a lot slower. The toggling can be overlooked but zooming the camera when you’re trying to dodge enemies who are charging at or firing at you dulls the luster of what could’ve been a great mechanic.

While you’re out exploring and fighting, you’ll naturally need consumables to keep your health up. This is where cooking comes in, there are only four meals you can cook but each of them serves a unique purpose to you, and they’re all quite easy to make too. For health, you’ll need Kylin Fire to make Kylin Rolls, Mushrooms to make Mushroom Rolls that will restore your stamina in a pinch, Golden Phoenix Melons for Golden Phoenix Rolls that boost your defense and lastly, Prickly Fruit to make Prickly Rolls that will give you a nice damage boost when you need it most. However, the boosts aren’t permanent, so you’ll need to be mindful of their durations until you can upgrade the meals themselves for further boosts and increased durations.

What sets KAKU: Ancient Seal apart and helps it shine a little bit brighter are the Ruins you’ll find scattered around the Elemental Lands. These are similar to puzzles but bigger and more dangerous, but it’s also a nice change of pace that comes with a nice reward at the end. The puzzles can sometimes be rather simple and easy, while others require a bit more thinking or timing. However, it’s usually the more difficult puzzle that also yields the best rewards, like new gear for Kaku.


KAKU: Ancient Seal, Review, Screenshots, Open-World, Action, Adventure, NoobFeed
 

To save the best for last, KAKU: Ancient Seal might not have character creation, but with some patience and exploring, you’ll start building a nice collection of gear with which to customize Kaku. Though the gear you find can also give you nice boosts or buffs in certain areas, while it’s not mandatory, you can also just mix and match to liking for the sake of making Kaku appeal to your taste as well. Though like with everything in KAKU: Ancient Seal, you’ll need to go out and find it in chests, ruins, and sometimes even from boss drops.

KAKU: Ancient Seal shows that a lot of work and care go into creating the lands you explore. With there being 4 different lands, each one related to an element, you’ll also see that each one is also inhabited by wildlife that matches the elements of the lands you’re in. It can be a bit monotonous at first when you start exploring your first land, but you’ll see that each of them holds a lot more variation as you go deeper. Unfortunately, while the game has most of the animations in perfect order, there are a few missing, and instead, rely on snap animations when turning or when you start running.

This is a very archaic method of animating and can also cause some clunky side effects with things like combat or chaining movement actions together. The biggest drawback would be the collider mapping for things like stairs or small raises in the ground that can be treated as stairs or ramps, but due to bad collider mapping, you’ll instead be forced to jump over something that’s literally toe height because it gets treated like a wall or similar obstacle.



 

 There is a fun saving grace for KAKU: Ancient Seal, though. The game has brilliant sound design and voice acting, well, not entirely voice acting but more noise acting. Kaku and the many people you’ll meet don’t speak English or any other known language, they instead use a language unique to the game that can sound like just noises but they do carry a resemblance to actual language which is a really nice touch for a game like this.

The background music also takes on a more traditional feel to match the game environment but does shift during more major fights, that helps the overall immersion quite nicely. While the wildlife all have their own unique sounds and noises, they can become very repetitive when attacking them, they can be ignored to a point, but it does start to make fights slightly tedious after a while.

Overall, KAKU: Ancient Seal is a brilliant game with so much potential, but it needs a lot of cleaning up to really shine. It has a great story, and the unique environments are a joy to explore, but the combat mechanics and animations do need some reworking to avoid it being frustrating. If you can look past the issues, it’s a visual wonder to explore and play while getting a great story at the same time.


Jay Claassen
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): BINGOBELL
Developer(s): BINGOBELL
Genres: Open-World
Themes: Open World, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2023-05-04

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