Do you think most games these days are too easy? Are you looking for an intense challenge that refuses to hold your hand? Are you more interested in shaving precious seconds off of a speedrun than exploring fictional worlds? Well what’s the matter with you? Why do you hate fun? Well, regardless, and for reasons I will never understand, developers keep making games for you. Games that make me want to find the developers just to ask them who hurt them so badly. Developers like Caracal Games and titles like OkunoKA Madness.
Okunoka Madness is a 2D puzzle platformer and a hardcore speedrunner’s dream. You play as Ka, a blue demon thing tasked with defending the World of Souls from the evil Os. Each level has you narrowly dodging obstacles, jumping through tight corridors, and doing it all while trying to get the best time possible. The faster you complete a level, the higher your rank will be and, while you can of course move on just by completing the level, there’s nothing more irritating than having a big red ‘F’ next to all your nice blue ‘A’s. It takes a more skillful player than I, however, to maintain such a perfect streak because Okunoka Madness is, to put it mildly, extremely difficult. Following in the footsteps of other 2D platformers like Super Meat Boy and Hollow Knight, OkunoKA Madness requires precise timing, out-of-the-box thinking, and a skillful hand just to reach the end of most levels, let alone to achieve a high ranking.
OkunoKA Madness features three distinct game modes. Story, Time Attack, and Madness. Story has you complete levels in order, while trying to achieve the best time and rank. Time Attack, which requires that you complete at least one world in Story mode, is, as the name suggests, a stress inducing race against the clock. Finally, Madness is essentially a survival mode with a series of even more challenging levels. In Madness mode, you can select any level, except the final locked level, to play in any order, but they all present their own challenges. Some will have you quickly switching between abilities while hopping up the side of an icy wall while others force you to run for your life while dodging heat seeking missiles.
The art style in OkunoKA Madness is refreshingly colorful and bizarre. Huge, lumbering creatures straight out of a Dali painting terrorize wide-eyed spirits and fairies. Twisted plants from some fantastical and magical world wind around collapsing stone buildings. The world of OkunoKA Madness is beautiful and unique and the music is relaxing and laid back. This is in stark contrast with the actual gameplay, which is brutally difficult. No amount of fun guitar music could prevent me from pulling my hair out after trying the same level fifty times.
In an interesting twist, OkunoKA Madness features an unlockable elements system that allows you to control different parts of the level. Frost, the first element you will collect, allows you to freeze and evaporate certain platforms and obstacles using the left and right bumper. This meant you were frequently required to quickly create and destroy platforms while in the air. The tiny spaces and precise timing made this one of the more difficult aspects of the game for me personally, and this was only the first world. Later, the game introduces a fire element which ramps the difficulty up exponentially. Brutal platforming, evolving mechanics, and fast-paced boss fights are just a few reasons OkunoKA Madness is only for the truly masochistic player.
OkunoKA Madness is an excruciating endurance test that will have the most dedicated players invested for many hours. A growing repertoire of mechanics and abilities keep the levels from ever getting stale and a variety of challenging enemies means you’ll constantly be faced with ever increasing difficulties. For those of you looking for a casual, relaxing experience I encourage you to look elsewhere. For those who don’t like taking the easy path through life, OkunoKA Madness is the perfect chance to improve your skills and dominate your fiends.