Razer Kishi Review: A Better Way to Play xCloud

Posted on August 5, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, Project xCloud with 10 Comments

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that xCloud, or “cloud gaming” will become available to Android users on September 15th – if they are paying for Game Pass Ultimate. The service will allow you to play more than 100 Xbox games on nearly any new-ish Android phone or tablet.

While you can technically play xCloud games without a controller, the reality is that you want a controller. There are several options out there from clips that attach to a controller to more unique solutions like the Razer Kishi.

Razer sent one of these to me earlier this week and while I typically wait a couple of weeks for a review, this product is relatively simple and straightforward. After spending about 4hrs using the device, this is likely the best way to play xCloud.

Here’s how it works: the two Joy-cons controller ends sperate which allows you to place your phone in-between them to create a Switch-like experience. And in practice, it works quite well.

When you de-couple the two controllers that conveniently latch together in a small package for carrying in your bag, there is a flexible ribbon with a large piece of plastic that sits against your phone to help stabilize the controller. One end of the phone connects into a USB-C port while the other fits into a rubber slot to securely hold the phone in place. One challenge is that the plastic on the back will block any fingerprint readers that are on the back of your phone which can make authenticating a bit more challenging.

Once attached, your phone will recognize the device (make sure to download the Razer Kishi app too) and off you go – no setup other than putting your phone into the device.

There is an additional USB-C port on the outside of the device that allows for pass-through charging and the best part, this is not a Bluetooth controller. The benefit of this is that input is instantaneous, no low-latency Bluetooth lag. This is key as it removes one hurdle of the xCloud experience that could make the gameplay not feel ‘local’.

In use, the controller works well but it is not perfect: the left side of the controller is quite comfortable but the right side, with the analog stick being lower on the device, it is not as ergonomic. This isn’t a deal-breaker but something you should know before buying.

The buttons themselves are not too tactical which depending on your preference is either a good thing or bad thing. I prefer a hard snap when engaged but overall, the Kishi experience is quite good. And with all the Xbox navigation buttons on the controller, this makes the experience feel a little bit closer to traditional console gaming.

In fact, this is probably the best way to play xCloud right now. I much prefer this setup to using a traditional Xbox controller as this feels like a portable Xbox console we all dreamed about 10 years ago.

Keep in mind that xCloud, in my opinion, is best utilized with single-player experiences. While you can play multiplayer games, FPS multiplayer highlights latency more than titles like Ori – Ori plays exceptionally well and is a great title to use to demonstrate xCloud.

The biggest downside is the price, at $99, it’s not cheap. The best way to think of the Kishi is that this is the ‘Elite’ controller experience for xCloud. Much like Microsoft’s high-end controller for the console is a premium offering, this is the high-end controller for xCloud.

For those that are willing to pay the premium, you will be happy with the hardware and for anyone who is serious about xCloud gaming, this will be an essential accessory.

 

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Razer Kishi Review: A Better Way to Play xCloud”

  1. Avatar

    beckoningeagle

    I am wating for USB extension cables to see if I can get it to work. I have one of those industrial covers which doesn't allow the controller to be plugged in correctly. I can't remove the cover without damaging the fingerprint part of it. I am going to use a piece of wood in place of the phone and the extension cable to plug it into the phone. I tried using Bluetooth controllers but the latency is unbearable. Let's see how that goes.

  2. Avatar

    rbwatson0

    Brad,

    Would this be usable with a tablet? From the pictures it does not appear so. I have an 8" Galaxy Tab that would be a perfect size for gaming.

  3. Avatar

    nbplopes

    Those load times kill the experience for me. I would need to be pretty desperate to get an Xbox fix/

    • Avatar

      orbsitron

      In reply to nbplopes:


      I haven't found the load times to be that bad. Note that the "syncing data" screen that Brad showed only appears the first time in a given session (like the first time you play a game on a new console) and even then, only if you've played that game before. He kind of illustrated the worst case scenario.


      That said, cloud streaming definitely has load times where as the Series X won't have any meaningful load times. So there's a tradeoff.


      Another tradeoff in favor of cloud streaming is download time. If you want to play immediately, all you have is the load time to wait, you don't have to wait for 10's or 100's of GBs to download first. I could see myself playing via cloud while a game downloads to console or PC and then switching to the faster, higher fidelity version once the download completes, for example.

  4. Avatar

    scovious

    Would love to see charging cable passthrough or a built in battery extension.

  5. Avatar

    silversee

    Thanks for this Brad. As it happens, I stull use a OnePlus 6 as well, and had wondered about fit especially with the carbon fiber shell on the phone. Thanks to your video, I know it all works well.


    The one miss on this for me is the lack of a headset option, making wireless headphones necessary. It should have been easily possible for Razer to build a USB audio adapter into the grip and to provide an analog jack somewhere on the device. Or, to simply allow audio pass-through via the USB-C charging port.

  6. Avatar

    smileyfacey

    $99 my Arse Brad, it's €109.99 in Europe on the Razer website, that's more than $130, now that's bloody expensive, we're almost getting into Elite controller territory. I think I'll give it a pass, but give a big slap on the hand to Microsoft for letting this happen. It won't help XCloud soar when peripherals are such a huge rip-off. Needless to say, I didn't buy one.

    I tried to buy one on the MS store, but they didn't have any. So I'm left very disappointed, I was really looking forward to a nice controller for my Galaxy S20 Plus, I'm not sure what to do now.

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