Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

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What's your favorite Keen game?

Keen 1
1
7%
Keen 2
0
No votes
Keen 3
0
No votes
Keen 4
4
27%
Keen 5
6
40%
Keen 6
4
27%
Keen Dreams
0
No votes
Keen GBC
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 15

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Quillax
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Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Quillax »

In this forum there has been two "best Keen game" polls: One in 2009 (where Keen 5 won) and another from 2007-2012 (where Keen 4 won). Since our community has changed so much since then, I decided that it would be nice to have a new poll to see what is now generally considered to be the best Keen game.

So, pick your favorite Keen game, and feel free to explain why! :)
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by StupidBunny »

I'm always torn between Keen 5 and 6. It feels like being forced to tell which of my children I love more, it's an impossible choice.

I chose Keen 6 back in 07, and the reasons I loved it then haven't changed. To elaborate, though, I love the mixture of clunky Bloog technology with the extremely weird and alien environments, full of pink soils and trees and brainy walls with eyes and fun little bits like the poster of a Bloog looking like an 80s synthpop musician in the Bloogbase Recreational District. I think it also has maybe my favorite enemy designs in the entire series, so weird and cartoony; the game almost feels like an acid trip sometimes. Everything is so alive.

However, I take back my claim that Keen 5 feels sterile: actually, it's amazing how much color and personality it has for a world that's entirely in a single space station (not counting the Korath III base). I absolutely love the use of the color palette, the amount of detail in every room, the care that went into making the Omegamatic feel like a really cool place to explore. The enemies are cool too, with a lot of variety among the robots, shikadi doggos, shikadi sorcerers, whatever the hell a sphereful is, and so on.

As much as I adore Keen 6, though, I have to give my vote to Keen 5 just for how very polished it is. Every part of it feels like it's exactly where it needs to be, every enemy feels perfectly balanced, the puzzles are interesting and challenging without ever being overly arcane or unfair. The level design is on point, almost everywhere. (Which isn't to say I won't have complaints to level in ProYorp's least favorite levels thread, when it comes. :evil )

As for the other episodes, well, I love them all too, and I always have. It's not an easy choice, this. Maybe I'll make an alt account just to vote for Keen 6 too. :p
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Benvolio »

It's gotta be Keen1. The magic it brought me when I first played is a unique feeling that the excitement of trying the others never could really approach. Having played some Java games on the internet previously, I yearned for something that delved deeper than those tantalising but linear and clunkly sidescrollers. Something that truly reached the primordial core of PC gaming. This something was Keen1.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Nospike »

For me it's Keen 6. The first Keen game I played as a tech crazed 3 year old, but as it was only the demo, most of its secrets remained hidden from me until later. I love the art in Keen 6, everything about it feels just right. It presents a very immersive environment full of weird cartoony monsters and outlandish visual features. StupidBunny basically said it all. The music is also excellent, Brer Tar and Metal are among my favorites.

The only gripes I have are with the level design. Even though it also feels different and special compared to other Keen games, it's not always in a good way. Some levels like Bloogton Tower are just confusing and I don't think I've ever completed BASA. :crazy But the rest more than makes up for it.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Soul Monster »

I had a hard time deciding between Keen 4 and 5, but I have to go with 5.

There's a lot to like about this game. For starters, unlike 4 and 6 where you're able to explore bigger, more open environments, this one takes place in narrow corridors and hallways, but they did it in a way that doesn't come off as generic or bland. Like Stupidbunny said, there's a lot of color and personality to a lot of the stages in 5, and the enemies are varied and interesting. I also really like the level design in this one. Nothing feels cheap about any of them, it's just about genuine challenge. This also leads into my next point, there's not many glitches. There's still some here and there, but unlike 6 or Dreams, they don't give you an unfair advantage in completing a level. Also, I've always loved the GAME OVER animation where the galaxy explodes, and at times it can feel kind of creepy.

Also, out of the official games, this is the one where the most is at stake. Being that this is Keen's most dangerous mission up to that point, there's a more serious tone to the game at times, which I'll get to shortly.

Next, the music. This has some of my favorite tracks of the entire series. Having Tea With Little Ampton playing over the scrolling text over a visual of the Omegamatic to me sets a very ominous mood that gives you the impression that there's a lot more riding on Keen's shoulders this time. I also like A Shikadi Aire, which plays over the help menu, and gives another ominous vibe to the game. And of course Mars, the Bringer of War, which is perfectly used in the final stage, where you really feel that sense of dread as you make your way to the QED, knowing that if you lose, all is lost. The other tracks are nice, too, such as Playing Bagpipes Nearly Kilt Me, Just Snoopin' Around and Skating O'er The Ice.

Overall, Keen 5 is my favorite for its fair challenge, great music, great level design, variety of creatures, and of course, for being one of the most polished games of the series. I can see why Tom Hall said this was his favorite.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Gridlock »

My own ranking: 5 > 4 > 6 > 1 > 2 > 3 > Dreams

Over the years I find myself constantly going back and forth on the top spot. Really, all 3 galaxy games are great in their own way.

Keen 4 is the most nostalgic for me, which has perhaps skewed my opinion of it. It has the best sense of exploration and discovery of the three, but it's also somewhat lacking the production values of 5 and 6. I find the levels aesthetically to be quite barebones and even sloppily laid out. This is probably my personal modding perspective coming into play. I care a lot about presentation, and I meticulously labor over every inch of my own levels. There's also not a lot of music variety, but what is there feels incredibly iconic. I even love "Too Hot"; despite its repetition, it's such an atmospheric and menacing track. Overall, Keen 4 doesn't excel in some areas as much as 5 and 6, but it managed to be the most well-rounded and iconic game in the series.

Keen 5 by far has the highest production values of the three. There's so much musical variety that even the help screen has a fantastic track, and it has special sequences like the game over explosion. The level design and gameplay also feel the most polished. I really do think that Keen 5 overall has the best and most versatile cast of creatures (even if they aren't utilized to their full potential). The only real critiques I can give are that the setting isn't as varied as 4 and 6; it seems to be more focused on mechanics than world building or exploration.

Keen 6 is a weird one. It suffers from sloppy level design and other missing features, but it's also by far the most unique and fully-realized world. Artistically, Keen 6 is a step above the others, and I can't think of anything else like it in video games. It just has such a cool vibe. It's actually kind of strange to me that Keen 6 is leagues ahead of 4 and 5 in its creativity, yet somehow it still falls short and never became as iconic.

I've never liked the Vorticon games as much, but I think they're best when their simpler. Keen 1 especially has that "atmospheric minimalism" I often talk about that makes its minimalistic graphics and game design almost feel like an art piece. Keen 2 occasionally has that for me, but to a lesser extent.

I think the big reason Keen 3 falls flat is that it tried to be too ambitious for what the Vorticon engine allowed. The level design is just too complicated and unenjoyable to navigate. It has the biggest focus on combat, but I generally dislike the combat in Vorticons; it's just too cheap and unforgiving. Additionally, the art direction tried to convey a more ambitious world, but it fell into an uncanny valley. It's not minimalistic enough to be evocative like Keen 1, and it's not sophisticated enough to achieve quality world-building like Keen 6. I do at least find some of its ideas interesting, though. Caves of Oblivion with its (unintentional?) impossible maze and the Mangling Machine are quite memorable.

Sadly, Keen Dreams just doesn't have a lot going for it. The gameplay is so close to being good (considering how similar it is to Galaxy games), yet it falls way short. The game just doesn't have much of an interesting vibe, and the lack of music really takes away any charm it might otherwise have had.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Benvolio »

Gridlock wrote:tried to be too ambitious for what the Vorticon engine allowed
I definitely get what you're saying about Keen3. I agree about combat - the foes brought absolutely nothing new to the table (apart from Mangling Machine). I agree that engine/RAM limitations will have been a key reason for this.

But our community has proven that incredibly neat things can be squeezed out of an engine which boasts unbelievable reliability and solidness for a PC game. I suspect the id team were experiencing some stress, burnout and considerable time pressure making Keen3. Granted I don't know the precise timescale of how they made the Vorticons games but imagine the pressure to make something that lives up to Keen2. There was obviously ambition going into it and yes they achieved a big-ish game but I can only imagine that the vision that was initially imagined may not have been 100% realised.

Also I find the native EGA cyan background - despite traditional use for blue sky backdrops - looks depressingly artificial in this role, in other games too but most markedly so (in my subjective opinion) in Keen3. Of course, you can contrast that with the absolute masterclass in EGA graphics that is XkyKeen3.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by The Shifted One »

I'm going to go with Keen 4.

Together with Keen 1 I'm incredibly nostalgic for these games.
Everything in Keen 4 is done well, from its level design to the graphics; everything just fits perfect.
Specially the forest background seems iconic to me.
The atmosphere it breathes is just unmatched for me.
Most levels and locales really nail the environment and feeling they are supposed to represent.
Keen 5 may have a better level design on average and Keen 6 a better graphical design but I don't think any of those 2 combine everything as well as 4 does.

Although I really do love the Vorticon series I don't really think it can compete with the Galaxy series.
Its like comparing Super Mario Bros. 1 to Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World.
As awesome as they may be comparing them feels unfair.
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Re: Favorite Keen game? Take Three!

Post by Hisymak »

It's quite hard to post into this discussion, as I generally like more all the Galaxy series than Vorticon series. Except better graphics, music and technical aspects they are also better in playability and controls. The biggest thing I HATE in Vorticons is Ctrl+Alt firing, fortunately Galaxy fixed that with firing by a separate button.
So I would easily pick Keen 4+5+6, among those my lesser favourite is Keen 6. The major reason is probably because I got full version of Keen6 as the latest (after all previous games). That was when I already knew about cheats, so I never experienced and enjoyed Keen 6 as much as the previous games, and I'm missing the good memories discovering secrets and having challenges.
Among Vorticon series, my most favourite is probably Keen 1, because it's the easiest episode (had hard times with the other two, especially Keen2) and was able to complete the most part of it. And also because it was the first game I had from the Vorticon series so I got best memories with it.
Regarding Keen Dreams, it's something in-between. I neither like, neither dislike this game. Played it occassionally, completed some levels, but mostly it was quite hard and not-that-much-interesting for me.
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