Shovel Knight (Wii U) Review
Posted by Doug Yates on 07.18.2014
Does Shovel Knight just pander to the older crowd, or does it bridge the gap in generations? Check in with 411's Doug Yates to find out.
Title: Shovel Knight Developer: Yacht Club Games Publisher: Yacht Club Games Players: 1
Shovel Knight is an old-school platformer with an 8-bit aesthetic and a modern heart. To say that this game mimics the early generation would be a shame; what it does do is take many aspects of what many of us long-in-the-tooth gamers loved about the bygone eras and condenses them down into something that—while familiar—is highly original and with a personality all its own.
The early difficulty in shovel knight is well rounded, allowing for both veterans and newcomers alike to partake of the experience, though later levels may be a bit more of a trick for those not well versed in platforming.
The simple yet touching story follows Shovel Knight on his quest to defeat the evil sorceress who has taken his partner Shield Knight from him. In order to take on the sorceress you must first fight through her henchman, The Order of No Quarter. Each level is themed to match the order member boss at the end of each area.
Taking on the order at the end of each level is a highly kinetic, entertaining experience as each boss uses their theme in unique ways during the battle and makes the player work to get in a hit. With the exception of Specter Knight—the darkness mechanic just seems like forced difficulty—I truly enjoyed the battles.
The world map is broken up into levels, towns, and other areas you can explore. The towns are easily traversable and offer quite a few different things to do, from buying health and magic upgrades, to hunting out secret music pages or hidden minigames.
There is plenty to do outside of the main quest as occasionally bosses will appear on the world map, and although not necessary they are a fun aside and a good way to test your skill. There are also levels, many of which require a certain relic in order to proceed, that you may complete for a chance to obtain a lot of gold.
Within the quest levels there are multitudes of hidden areas for the vigilant player to find and explore. Within these areas you can find music pages and hidden blue chests containing a merchant. These areas often offer up more difficult platforming challenges.
The merchant in the chests will offer, for a price, a relic that will help you on your journey. These relics are also themed around the order member and often will assist in the level by allowing you to access unreachable areas or just making traversal of certain areas easier.
Another of the merchants in the town will offer you the chance to purchase two chalices. These chalices can be taken to the Trouple Lake where the Trouple King will offer up three kinds of ichor: red, blue or gold. These ichors will fill health and magic, cause temporary invincibility, or allow you to vacuum up treasure within a certain distance. Occasionally you will be able to find one of the Trouple King’s followers hiding in fishing spots within the level to refill one of your chalices.
In the second town area you come to there are upgrades available for both your shovel and your armor. The armor upgrades do things such as halving the money that you drop when you die, while the shovel adds things like a power blast from your shovel that moves along the ground, but only if you have full health (Zelda style).
Within each level there are multiple checkpoints throughout. The checkpoints can however be destroyed to obtain large amounts of gold, but will no longer function as a checkpoint so it ends up being a very interesting risk-versus-reward system.
The visuals of the game hearken back to the 8-bit era and add a wonderful sense of nostalgia to exploring the world. The enemy designs are varied and interesting in visuals as well as behavior. Even when the enemies are reskins their pattern will often differ enough to cause the player to pay attention. The soundtrack is full of catchy chiptune music that fits perfectly with the visuals and environment.
The game clocks in at around 8 hours, but searching out the plethora of collectibles could easily take far longer than that. I don’t often replay games once I am through with them, but I very well may come back and try my hand at the new game + .
• Great 8-bit art style.
• Well-designed levels.
• Immensely fun boss battles.
• Fun chiptune soundtrack.
• Darkness mechanic in Specter Knight’s level.
The 411: If games like this continue to be the product of Kickstarter projects, it is going to become the haven of indie games. With fun visuals and a great soundtrack this game bridges the gap between old-school and modern sensibilities and offers up an awesomely entertaining experience in the process.
Fun 8-bit aesthetic and great characters bring the game to life.
Well tuned platforming and difficult boss fights create a wonderfully fulfilling experience.
Great chiptunes soundtrack really make you feel like your playing an oldschool gem.
A longer than average campaign with plenty of collectables and a new game plus will keep gamers busy for days.
A ton of fun no matter how old you are this will be played for years to come.