I beat the main portion of Kirby and the Forgotten Land over the weekend. The game has stayed just as enjoyable throughout as it was at the start, which is pretty great considering how many games I play that feel like the beginning got way more work than the end. There’s a “post-game” section to play through that I’m spending my time on these days, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s “post” anything. It feels like the final act of the game, despite it being pretty clearly the post-game section (all but named as such by the NPCs in the game), and there isn’t all the much new content, so I can’t really argue with it being called that.
All of the levels you play are made up of parts of the zones you played through in the first two acts of the game, picking individual areas from each one and mixing in a few new locations for some fun flavor to connect the disparate parts into a single themed zone you have to play through to finish the post-game content. There’s a new thing to collect, more difficult enemies, more complex puzzles, and a whole new collection of fun songs. Unlike the other levels, these ones take a longer time to run through and force you to redo the entire thing if you miss a collectible you want to go back for (though you can always go back through the area you’re in, with a few exceptions, only locking you out when you leave the area). It can be a hassle if you miss some, like I did the first time through the first of these zone-based levels, but the game lets you know if you’ve already gotten everything of interest in each section of the level so you can focus on the sections that you might have missed something.
There’s a lot going on, to explain why you’re running through these weird amalgamation levels, but that is a spoiler so I’m going to just say that it has as much plot and narrative justication as any Kirby game does. Which isn’t much, but the game’s just so enjoyable you don’t need a plot to carry you through it in my opinion. Plus, this section carries tougher challenges within it, which I’m all about. The main challenge, other than amassing a large number of new collectibles, is fighting tougher copies of old bosses at the end of each amagalmation level. These bosses have greater damage resistance, greater damage output, and some new moves that make you reasses the strategies you used against them the first time through, which has made it enjoyable for me. None of them have managed to kill me, though some have come close because the entire level is a gauntlet with very few healing items and tons of dangerous environmental puzzles filled with enough enemies to make them difficult to navigate unharmed.
This game might not have the pure immersion of my experience with Breath of the Wild or Ghost of Tsushima, but I’d put it right up next to Death’s Door in terms of consistent enjoyability, but above it in terms of fun. Death’s Door had more interesting thoughts to share about the nature of death and grief, even if it never quite got profound (which isn’t a dig, there’s plenty to examine in terms of the ordinary every-day grief we all experience and Death’s Door does a good job of that), but I will also say that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is solidly average on the writing side of these because it simply doesn’t try to say much. There’s some text, some voice lines provided to the occasional character that speaks, and a bunch of NPC dialogue (some of which implies Kirby speaks even if it never shows him speaking), but it doesn’t really try to say anything other than providing information about the situation Kirby is in. Bland, but like a good bowl of oatmeal with plenty of other great things mixed in it forms an excellent base that allows all the other aspects of the game to shine.
There will always be a special place in my heart for Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, but I think Kirby and the Forgotten Lands has replaced it as my favorite entry in the franchise. There’s just so much good Kirby gameplay to enjoy.