For being dressed mostly in black, Kim is a very pink young girl. Pink tints to her hair enhanced by looped pink ribbons, pink rollerskates, and a pink slash of her sword that decimates the zombie horde all contrast her slightly gothy look. She’s a little bit grumpy and a whole lot of deadly, which is just the right combination to save her village through a series of sliding block puzzles.
Keen is a clever take on block sliding starring a young girl slashing and stomping her way through turn-based puzzles. Each level has an optimal route where Kim can take no damage and slide through all in her path, but untangling it takes both thought and experimentation. Kim reacts differently whether she slides through or stops beside an enemy, and solving a room needs to take both options into account.
Each turn Kim moves, sliding down the lane while slicing through enemies along the way, and if there’s anyone in the adjoining spaces at the end she performs an automatic jump/stomp for a point of damage that stuns them into immobility for that turn. The enemies then get their move, and if anyone was a space away and outside the range of Kim’s stomp then they get an attack. Which sucks if you’re aiming for a perfect clear.
Each level is a series of interconnected rooms, some a straight line from one to the next and others with multiple interconnecting exits. At the start are a set of three goals, which might include beating the level within a set number of moves or without taking damage. Once a room is cleared of enemies it remains cleared no matter how many times you revisit, but if you’re aiming to three-star a level it’s best to be efficient, careful, and a little clever. Clearing five perfect rooms in a row and blowing it on the sixth can be frustrating, but Kim can take a few hits before keeling over so it’s not like the error ends the run.
Keen popped up on Steam with a demo the other day, the same one that was on display in the Indie Minibooth at PAX East. It’s a good-sized chunk of game and well worth checking out for those looking for a little character in their puzzle gaming, with a number of secrets hiding in its levels and even a boss encounter at the end. Kim has a sword and rollerskates to take on the world, and no zombie-robot teamup is going to get in her way.