Some days the sun shines, birds sing and everything is right in the world. But other days, clouds loom, birds leave a mess and the world goes sideways and you feel like knocking something over. Boston-based developer Fire Hose Games made King Kaiju, which left Steam Early Access Jan. 31, for the latter kinds of days — when you want to break things.
King Kaiju is a first-person standing and room-scale sandbox that puts you in the hands and head of a Godzilla-sized monster in a fully destructible town filled with buildings, cars, pedestrians, and planes. You can smash houses, pick up objects, and throw things until the semi-urban landscape is destroyed, which offers moments of catharsis.
But King Kaiju is at its best when you play as Megacat, the game’s second character that you unlock after finishing every level, which should take around an hour.
And why is Megacat the best part of King Kaiju, you ask? The answer, my fellow gamer, is laser eyes. Yes, the behemoth kitty sports eye-born lasers, which — for reasons still unknown to science — are more satisfying with which to destroy things than the main character’s mouth-born fire. Someday, science will solve this laser > fire mystery. But until then, Megacat will reign supreme.
Whatever the character, King Kaiju supports the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift and works with both system’s tracked motion controllers. To move within the virtual world without walking in room-scale, you can teleport, which is point-and-click straightforward. Additionally, you can teleport onto pedestrians and cars directly to crush them, which satisfies.
However, you can’t change your orientation when teleporting like you can in games such as The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed or Arizona Sunshine, so playing King Kaiju sitting down or facing in the same direction is a bit of a challenge because when you teleport your point of view will always face the direction you are in the real world.
In-game, the controllers transform into your character’s hands or paws. But King Kaiju isn’t a hardcore simulation by any means. It’s more of a whimsical cartoon fantasy. For example, the game presents a bird’s-eye view of the action on the secondary monitor in a news-style presentation with comical remarks in a scrolling ticker.
“Experts say the monster is collecting ‘points’ like it’s in some kind of video game,” the ticker says.
Additionally, there’s no story — just destruction. However, the game does offer four levels, three of which have score-based objectives. The last level is an open sandbox with no objective.
As for the graphics, the arcade-style textures won’t blow you away with their cartoony looks, but they fit the game just fine. The sound design, with screaming pedestrians, buzzing airplanes, and annoying ice cream trucks — oh, how I want to destroy those blaring ice cream trucks with their soul-grating music — also fits the game’s casual style.
The audio plays back in binaural virtual surround over stereo headphones, which makes pinpointing the location of attacking planes and fleeing pedestrians easy. However, the game outputs stereo only through surround speakers, which is a bit of a disappointment.
On the other hand, stability isn’t an issue because King Kaiju doesn’t crash on my Rift-based test system, which has two Oculus Sensor IR trackers, an AMD RX 480 graphics card and Windows 10. However, the Rift displays an otherwise game-breaking double image when anti-aliasing is enabled in King Kaiju. Thankfully, disabling anti-aliasing fixes the problem. I don’t know if this is also an issue with the Vive.
King Kaiju offers an hour or two of casual motion controller-based gameplay in a destructible sandbox environment. If you’re looking for the second coming of Pacific Rim, then save your money and wait for Pacific Rim: Uprising. But if your world has gone sideways and you want to unleash your inner monster for an hour or two, then King Kaiju is worth a look.
King Kaiju is available on Steam for $4.99 with support for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.