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Kya: Dark Lineage
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:  Eden Games
Publisher:  Atari
# Of Players:  1
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, Pro Logic II
Date Posted:  3-10-04

This generation of hardware has allowed developers to combine genres in new and interesting ways not possible before.  Often the results of this can be disastrous (I won’t name names), but occasionally these diverse elements will just “click” and come together to form a good game.  Such is the case with Kya: Dark Lineage, an adventure game that manages to combine elements from several other genres into a cohesive and enjoyable experience.

The adventure starts out as cliché as possible though.  Late one night Kya and her brother stumble upon their deceased (or so they think) father’s laboratory.  Before they know it, they’re whisked away to a strange and lush world.  Two main races occupy this world: the oppressive Wolfens and the meek Nativs.  Wolfens are actually Nativs transformed by the evil wizard Brazul to do his bidding.  And of course, to make it personal the Wolfens have also captured Kya’s brother.  Thus, Kya must set out to find her brother and exorcise the transformed Nativs along the way.

This is an adventure game through and through, largely borrowing from the concepts found in Nintendo’s Zelda series.  Nativ City acts as the hub, with Kya returning there to purchase various upgrades and items needed for each leg of the journey.  These items are purchased with Nooties (the game’s currency) found throughout the world.  Certain items are specific to certain stores, and the only way to gain access to those new stores is to exorcise Nativs.  Once freed, those greedy Nativs return to Nativ City (where else would they go?) and provide the animal power necessary to build shops stocked with items Kya will need to succeed.  There are also a variety of mini-games found in the city, offering the chance to compete for extra cash and take a break from all of the adventuring.  Using items and upgrades to open up new areas of the world is of course a Zelda staple, going all the way back to the original The Legend of Zelda.  There’s even a flying animal to provide helpful hints and tips throughout the journey.

Kya’s primary weapons are a boomerang (or “boomy” in this case), her hands and feet, and several types of bombs.  Kya can use a variety of moves in hand-to-hand combat, which are learned by purchasing magic bracelets.  There are over 30 of them in all, and they string together to form some impressive fight scenes.  While the combat system is polished, enemy A.I. isn’t.  Although Wolfens are very smart in combat (they’ll pick up on repeated moves and start blocking them), they will occasionally run themselves right off the side of a cliff.  This is annoying because the player must leave the area and return before that Wolfen will return, and of course the Wolfen has to die (and not just disappear over the side of a cliff) before the Nativ can be freed.

This alternate world is big, so Kya has several modes of transportation at her disposal.  Jamguts are basically this world’s wild horses, and while riding one Kya can jump greater distances and trample foes underfoot.  Brisk winds blow throughout the world, which Kya can use to soar to new heights and areas.  There are also a variety of slopes Kya can surf down, which feel very reminiscent of the recent Sonic Adventure games.  When traveling on foot, Kya will alternate between busting up Wolfen, solving puzzles (like kicking bombs into obstacles), and using stealth tactics to sneak by and distract enemies.

Given that Eden is a French company, it should come as no surprise that the world looks a lot like something out of the Rayman series.  The world is lush, with some jungle areas full of huge green plants and colorful flowers and other areas with their own unique flora and fauna.  Most of the texture work is basic and many areas have a minimum amount of objects in them, but the large levels and gorgeous art direction make up for it.  Nativs look a bit disjointed as they move, with weird floating eyes and huge heads.  Wolfens look better, with shaggy coats and hilarious animations.  For example, if Kya strikes one from a distance with her boomy it’ll start accusing nearby Wolfen of doing it.  Hilarious stuff that reminded me a lot of the humor found in Fur Fighters.  Unfortunately the collision detection isn’t as polished as it should be, as on several occasions Kya and her enemies passed right through and/or got stuck inside of objects.  The camera can also get very wild when backed into a corner, swinging to and fro before finally getting reoriented a couple seconds later.

Sound wise, there’s some good and some bad.  Both the sound effects and musical score are passable.  The music is typical organic jungle stuff, although it’s subdued and not as “in your face” as one would expect.  The voice acting is very good in some areas (Kya), and very bad in others (almost all of the Nativs).  It’s obvious that the Nativs are intended to sound humorous, but Eden failed in making them sound “so bad it’s good”.  Instead it’s just plain bad.


  • Lush gameplay world with a ton of levels that stretch on forever.

  • Zelda-esque progression with items opening up access to new areas.

  • A good mix of adventure, platform, racing, and even stealth elements.

  • The wind tunnels and surfing parts are a little basic, but still pretty cool.


  • Sometimes it copies the Zelda series too closely.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than a general “been there, done that” feeling.

  •  This game lacks polish.  Wonky collision detection in spots, camera issues, enemies that commit suicide, and minor framerate issues make the game feel rushed.

  • Some of the voice acting is painfully bad.


In the end, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.  Kya: Dark Lineage has a definite charm about it, and the Zelda-like progression has proven time and time again to keep players interested.  If you’re a fan of the genre, this is a hard one to pass up at its current budget price of $19.99.

Overall Score: 7.3

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