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Game Jams are an incredibly useful way to see fresh, unique ideas come to life in bite-sized forms. There's usually a short amount of time for entrants to submit their game. KILL THE KING is the product of the Extra Credits Game Design Jam, which lasted for three days. The result is an extremely brief, but high-quality game with a lot of potential for a full release.
KILL THE KING has the player take control of an assassin. It's a pixelated, 2D side-scrolling title with one objective: killing the king. On the way, you encounter wandering guards patrolling the area. It might sound simple, but going fast and reckless will end in your character's death.
The presentation of the game is truly stellar. It's really impressive to see how this game came to life in a short three days. The pixel art is spectacular and atmospheric. This assassination takes place during a dark, dreary night in what appear to be castle ruins. The music is ominous and mysterious. It's hard to describe why, but I get some immersive sim vibes from the tone of the game's song - it reminds me of Thief especially. I feel like that could have been an intentional move by the developers, Hot Girls With Broken Legs - and yes, that is indeed their name.
The gameplay is as effective and simple as its pixelated art. Every step you take makes noise, indicated by a horizontal white bar beneath your feet. This mimics the effect of sound waves, which I thought was a great way to notify the player if they were in danger of alerting a guard. Of course, guards will see you if you get close enough, so there's a delicate balance between how much noise you're making versus how close you are to the guards. There's certain obstacles like pillars the player can hide behind, which completely conceal you. It's a good idea to hide yourself there so you can plan a strike on the guards.
To dispatch guards, you can launch your assassin in a wild leap onto a target and stab them continuously until the guard is dead. When a guard stops making noises, that's when you know they won't be a problem. However, leaping is extremely noisy and so is stabbing, so you also have to make sure you do it without alerting the other patrols. Leaping is the only way to kill, so sometimes it's not the right thing to do, especially when you encounter a large group of guards.
I won't spoil it, but sometimes killing a guard isn't the right choice. It felt like a puzzle at times, because you need to monitor the path of these enemies before you decide your next move. They might be in range of another guard, who will usually kill the assassin instantly if they see you.
My only complaint is that the game is extremely short, which is to be expected for a game-jam creation. There's no checkpoints so if you die, you go back to the beginning. It took me three tries to finish the game, with my playthrough lasting around 15 minutes total. I see a lot of potential in a full experience with the same concepts and some more mechanics. I just wish there was more to play, because by the time it was over I wanted more.
Overall, if you're on a short break at work or just want to experience the type of game you might find during a Game Jam, you can't go wrong with KILL THE KING. If anything, you can sit back and listen to the music, which by itself is well worth a listen.
You can get KILL THE KING for free on itch.io.