Time:1 hour 30 minutes
I've been dreading this episode. I've already played most full versions of shareware games I enjoyed back in the day. Those from Apogee and Epic MegaGames to more obscure ones like Traffic Department 2192. I probably couldn't tell you very specific things about them, but from this point in time I could tell you what I remember liking about them. Except this one. I don't remember this one. I played it, and it went in one ear and out the other. But I do remember an internet friend who was going through these games saying the level design in this was spectacularly bad.
Last time we left off, Keen saved the Earth from the Vorticon ship's death rays. After once again returning home, he sets out to the Vorticon's homeworld, to ensure it doesn't happen again. Its funny, basically the only real threat to humanity in this game's story is Keen's bedtime. As Keen arrives, the Vorticon's Grand Intellect issues an order, Keen must die. I'll get to the overworld later.
|I wonder why no parent groups ever went after Id for this...
Now if you saw the previews in Episode 1, you know by now that Keen goes through some Vorticon homes in this episode. That means a lot of them. Time to take out some Vorticon grannies. Not a joke, and they're the toughest enemy early on. They aren't fast and don't jump around, but they shoot. Sometimes, and they take four shots to kill. That means this first level has a tight grip on ammo. Also, in addition to the regular Vorticons and the Vorticon children, you have these small things that run away that you can jump on. Rounding out the enemy roster are these green dudes, whose attack can go through walls I think. They're easy.
|I guess if I need this later I can always come back here.
Apparently the big advertised feature of the game was that you could learn the Galactic Standard Alphabet and decipher messages you found in the first two episodes. As such there are things like this around. I think a lot of games later on referenced this, but its not something I find interesting enough to care about. I do find it amusing that Kill Keen is important enough to be written in a classroom. This is definitely no Saturday morning cartoon.
The first real troublesome level is this one. A deceptive level. Starts off innocently enough, a single Vorticon and some children bouncing around. Then you get presented with two paths. Despite appearances these don't lead to the end. The lower path is just full of Vorticon grannies who will have long killed their children by the time you reach them. Your reward for killing a half dozen enemies? A paltry amount of ammo! I should explain, compared to the last episode where you got more ammo by picking up weapons, here you can also get single shots of ammo from these weird purple power-ups. You can also shoot enemy shots.
The real path is just through a mazey apartment building. Some sections seem like a real challenge to get through, while others depend slightly on luck of the draw. A glitch, one I suspect added in by Commander Genius, causes the grannies to sometimes get stuck in an attacking state, meaning that if you touch them, you're killed, and you can't hurt them. Which is a problem since their presence blocks further passage in such cases.
But that's just the first part of the problem. Next, you have to climb up an area full of turrets. Its only really annoying at the beginning, where platforms keep getting in your way. Platforms don't kill you if you're under them, but jumping up to them doesn't work and instead you have to hope that when they crush you, you're placed on top of them. Then there are some Vorticon children above some water. As I haven't mentioned it since they appeared last time, they knock you out, a process which causes Keen to jump up. There are moving platforms here.
The final section, by contrast, is relatively easy, just some regular Vorticons, red balls and a new enemy. The red balls I haven't mentioned before because they just bounce around, and slightly move you whenever they touch you. You can't shoot them, and they haven't really been notable. The new enemy, on the other hand, functions like the Vorticon children, except it kills you. At this point its just an endurance level.
At first I prepare myself for another slog, even if I know I'll give it up later. But no. Its a straight shot. Instead most of the area is blocked off by two doors. Huh. Well, there's no consequence to me for not exploring. There are a lot of these green guys on this level, which are called Meeps. They shoot through walls, but are otherwise harmless. I say that and they're so dense down in the lower sections that I couldn't get past them to the second exit.
The secret level is basically just a points and ammo grab in a nice little, mostly safe, cave. Unfortunately, since this is the second to last level, by the time you've gotten here points and ammo are basically pointless. Its a nice thought though.
|There is some awkwardness in how this game is depicted at higher resolutions
|There's so much wrong with this picture
Same as Keen 1. 1/10
More or less the same concepts as last time, with a few slight variations around. 4/10
This just feels poorly balanced. So much of the stuff here that's difficult to beat is made entirely optional, while by the end of it I had enough ammo for anything. I wasn't even trying to exploit anything, the game just feels poorly thought out. 2/10
Same as Keen 1. 6/10
Back to just doors that disappear when you have the key. 0/10
The setting is nice, and while the action has issues, feels nice. 3/10
I think the levels look somewhat better. Not great or anything, but they're better looking than the previous two Keens. 3/10
Its intriguing to see a bunch of dialog screens pop up when you enter a level. Well, the first time. Mostly just what you'd expect. 2/10
Same as Keen 1. 1/10
A disappointing end to the trilogy. Some of these levels I genuinely hated. That said, I guess in comparison to the second episode, there are parts I enjoyed. Keen 2 just felt boring in a lot of places, while Keen 3 has parts I really hate and parts I like. In a way, this game is clever, because you don't ever have to interact with the bad parts of the game. Outside of people who genuinely like the bizarre difficulty of it.
There will be some delay before Keen 4, as that's where Id's first FPSes come in.