Based on what people are saying about this title, it seems like there's an unavoidable comparison to be made after starting up Telekinesis Kyle. It certainly struck me right away, as I was reminded of one of my favorite games of all time -- Psychonauts. Now before I get any further, I think it’s appropriate to say that this is both a good thing and a bad thing.
It's a good thing because, obviously, Psychonauts is an amazing title and one of the best PS2-era games ever. But the flip side of the coin is this -- the similarities in character driven humor and plot, while amusing to a certain extent, only serves to show the stark, stark, stark contrast in the quality of the two games.
Psychonauts is a rare, polished gem from Tim Schafer on display in a glass case. In comparison, Telekinesis Kyle has no choice but to be a geode brought in to class for show and tell. On top of this, Telekinesis Kyle also wants to remind you of Portal, as there's no shortage of laboratory-based physics gamplay, full of box moving and matter manipulation.
I will spare you another lame simile, but suffice it to say that Telekinesis Kyle does not live up to the likes of that Valve classic either. Though I have to doff my cap at Vellum Interactive's moxie. I mean, if there's going to be a couple of games to have influence your mobile effort, whether intentional or not, it's hard to have finer ones than Portal and Psychonauts.
At least it seems like the Vellum guys have some good taste. And it's not like anyone would even expect them to live up to those games. I certainly would not, that's just not fair (even though, I know, it sounds like I am already). After all, they were both built by large and experienced teams.
But when the comparison bar is that high, coming out of the gates with something that plays like a beta version is not the best way to have your title stand up. Yeah sure, the game may be set in a mad scientist's lab, but that's no excuse for Telekinesis Kyle to feel like an experiment.
While everything in the game world seems to have a good edifice, there's just an unavoidable lack of finish that hampers things. Which is a shame, because I want to like this. It's got charm, wit, good looks... there's potential here! But then there are things that I just can't get around.
On the one hand, some of the cutscenes have amusing dialogue that's clearly Schafer-inspired and the comic interludes are well-drawn... but on the other hand, none of the characters move their mouths and basically just stand still during the cutscenes. There are some decent effects/animations for Kyle's telekinetic powers, but you can't seem to make a platform jump without that cheap, clunky maneuvering thing happening where the whole character model slowly snaps up to the surface he was supposed to land on.
I want to stay optimistic because Telekinesis Kyle does have some promise. The personality and good humor manages to stand out from the rest of the shakiness. I'd like to think that, for whatever reason, the developers just had to rush it out the door and there will be more to come that builds upon that stuff. But who's to say? It could also just be a Cliff's Notes game.