Review: Khimera: Destroy All Monster Girls
It’s pretty amazing to me the kinds of games you can find for free. I don’t know how it happens but some developers seem perfectly content to make something amazing and just give it away. That’s certainly how I felt about Khimera, because the whole time I was playing it I was comparing it in my head to Shovel Knight. That should be pretty high praise, I think, but the comparisons aren’t entirely positive.
On a remote island of monsters, a bunch of monster pirates haul off and steal all the money from town. The local maddish scientist lets his latest creation, a chimera girl with a big funky stone arm, run off to stop them before they abscond with the loot. That gives you a whole island of tricky levels to tackle, with trips back to Mr. Science to turn boss monster DNA into a new power for your patchwork body. There’s also loot to score, fairies to free, trades to make, costumes to unlock, and a whole mess of chatty NPCs to get friendly with.
If this sounds like a load of content for a free title then your head’s in the right place. Khimera is a full, feature-rich game that can keep you occupied for hours. While the levels aren’t quite as long or numerous as something like Shovel Knight they hide a TON of secrets, and you’ll need to do plenty of backtracking and experimenting with new powers if you want to unearth the many kooky sidequests hidden in the villages. Your efforts are rewarded with additional powers, costumes, and most importantly, charming dialogue from the island’s colorful inhabitants. While there’s a bit of internet humor that’s certainly going to date it in a few years, most of the text in Khimera is plenty funny and keeps me going to meet more of the cast.
Luckily the gameplay is able to keep up with the content, featuring some quality retro platforming across plenty of challenging levels. I know I can’t shut up about Shovel Knight but that is absolutely the closest thing to Khimera in terms of challenge and level layout. Every stage has plenty of enemies, pits, spikes, and secrets to deal with, and while Khimera never gets as creative with its gimmicks as Shovel Knight it makes up for it with multiple paths through levels. The powers you get from bosses makes platforming a real joy here, starting with a versatile dash attack and expanding to winged double-jumps and shocking ground-pounds.
I mentioned the challenge being similar because it is, though it might stray a little too far on the side of frustration. Checkpoints are sometimes sparse between difficult sections, with the hardest jumps and maneuvers coming at the very end of a sequence. The spikes are happily not instant death but they will mess you up plenty with how abundant and lethal they are, and every bottomless pit is a significant threat. Interestingly the enemies and bosses are probably the least dangerous part of the game, thanks mainly to your powerful dash attack that makes you invincible for several frames. In fact, many of the bosses can be offed by just smashing into them over and over.
The net result is an excellent retro platformer that’ll take you upwards of two hours to beat, and plenty more if you go secret hunting. The graphics are finely detailed in their pixel style, though levels tend to have kinda bland tile repetition. Sound design is definitely more up to the task with memorable tunes and familiar-feeling effects. If this were a paid product I would have no problem at all recommending Khimera, so as a free game I feel justified in ridiculing you if you don’t give it a go.