Antony Lavalle and Armor Games activate their Wonder Twin Powers once again to bring us K.O.L.M. II, the next chapter in the ongoing saga of everyone's favourite forlorn, emotionally abused and eager-to-please little robot. Picking up directly where the original left off (so you should play it if you haven't already), this Metroidvania style platform game once more finds us wandering through a hostile but strangely barren environment. As our hero wonders, is he free? Or just alone? You'll have to guide him to find out. Just remember, nothing worth having ever comes easy.
K.O.L.M. is played entirely with the keyboard, using the [arrow] keys for movement, [Z] to jump (now with spicy triple jump flavour) and [X] to shoot. In the beginning, Our Hero's abilities are fairly limited, but before long you'll start finding upgrades and new abilities (maybe even new allies?) to make the journey easier. Just make sure to steer clear of spikes, beasties, and, most importantly, concentrated doses of sunlight, which as everyone knows is the natural predator of the robot. Even if you can't avoid a hazard, don't worry; at worst you'll have to worry about starting the area you just entered over again, since you'll immediately respawn at the last entrance you came through. If you need to check your map, hit [M] to bring up the menu, where you can also do all sorts of exciting robot things like setting the video quality or turning off the sound. If you need to take a break, the game autosaves for you and you can just click "continue" the next time you start it up to continue at the last room you entered.
Analysis: K.O.L.M. II is a lot of things; it's sad, it's mysterious, it's creepy and lovely and lonely all at once... but it also feels like it's a little slow. You'd be forgiven for playing the first five minutes or so and thinking it's just more of the melancholy jumping robot action served up by the original. K.O.L.M. II feels almost more story driven than anything else, with even the most significant (and a-freakin-dorable) "upgrade" directly relating to the narrative. Once you do snag it, however, K.O.L.M. II actually winds up almost feeling more like a puzzle game somewhat in the vein of Fireboy and Watergirl... only, uh. More depressing.
Somewhat less endearing is the wibbley-wobbley (or is that tilty-wilty?) camera and screen angles that make a reappearance from K.O.L.M.I.A.M.. While there's no denying that the effect is... interesting... there are times when it simply feels like it's getting in the way and doesn't really serve much of a purpose except to "make things look all trippy and whatnot", to use the scientific term. You can occasionally be left squinting at the screen when the camera pulls all the way out, trying to keep track of a tiny hero on a large screen with tiny enemies, and the canting viewpoint and "graphical glitches" don't help matters. It's distracting, and in some places it really does feel like it can keep you from being fully immersed in what is otherwise a beautifully crafted atmosphere and creepy tale. The visuals have gotten a subtle upgrade that makes the whole thing look incredibly professional and slick, and the soundtrack helps create a sense of vastness that you can't wait to get out and explore. K.O.L.M. II is an absolutely beautiful game that you can't help but want to get lost in, even as you find yourself dreading what you might find.
It's rare to find a sequel that actually feels like a proper sequel, rather than absolutely changing everything that made the original great or (just as bad) not changing a single thing and offering what essentially boils down to a level pack. K.O.L.M. II is a satisfying adventure that maybe needed a bit less "style" in some places but manages to deliver on almost every level regardless. While the gameplay is still fairly standard, it's simple to grasp and easy to get lost in, and the end result just may stay with you for quite some time.