Iggy’s World: Shovel Knight
The world of indie games, a land filled with promise of hope and wonder. A wonderful world that is said to be bursting with nostalgia of times past. However with that promise a gamer can still find that sadly some indie games are not what they hoped to be. Whether that’s inexperience, or just wanting to cash in the search to find a great game in the independent market is a tough one. Well I’m here to tell you about one that has taken the gaming community by storm. A game that is a true diamond in the rough, I present my review for Shovel Knight!
Shovel Knight is a the first game developed by Yacht Club Games thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, which leads to the question. What is Shovel Knight? Shovel Knight is a love letter to the 8-bit era of video games. The dawn of modern gaming as we know it today. This is especially true with the story. The story just like games of the 80’s is relatively simple, it begins with telling the adventures of Shovel Knight and his best friend Shield Knight.
Together the two stumble on the Tower of Fate, where something vague happens to Shield Knight causing the tower to collapse leaving Shovel Knight defeated. That is until this villain known as The Enchantress and her Knights of Order of No Quarter seek to reek havoc causing our hero to take up the shovel once again. I don’t want to spoil the story to much, but I will give Yacht Club passing marks with how the handled the progress of the story itself. After Shovel Knight defeats a level he falls asleep at a campfire and some instances he dreams of his friend Shield Knight falling and only he can save her.
In those few dream sequences the player is given enough motivation to push on with the quest no mater how grueling it may become. Proving that you don’t always need a triple A budget to tell a compelling story. Don’t get me wrong I love me a spectacle but it’s a testament to a great story where you don’t need to watch a forty five minute scene to feel something.
Now the game play is where Shovel Knight truly excels.The player will control Shovel Knight as you progress from stage to stage on a map similar to Super Mario Bros 3, with unique level after unique level. At the start Shovel Knight can simply use his shovel, jump and use his shovel to jump on other objects to find some secret goodies. Shovel Knight himself controls perfectly, no stiff jumping, and the best part he doesn’t have a terrible hit box. Plus the game teaches you how to play the game with some random NPC ruining the flow of a stage, just like the good old days.
That being said you can choose to upgrade Shovel Knight with a league of gadgets, armors, and special abilities to enhance the players option while progressing through any given stage. The best part about all of the these upgrades is that they are completely optional, which means no one boss is weak to one thing or another. Upgrades are cool, but when in certain games when they become the only way to defeat enemies then it can feel tedious to earn them all.
Shovel Knight is filled to the brim with personalities, which can be found in both town stages and all the characters you can interact with or the individual Knights of Order of No Quarter. Not only does each boss have their own interesting designs, but they also (while brief) have fun personalities that add to the boss fight. The boss fights themselves are the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Each requires their own strategic ways of taking them down and you can’t rely on a “weakness factor” to save you. That is to say the bosses aren’t the most difficult by they are challenging. Leaving the player with actual satisfaction when you beat a particular stage and the respective Knight.
Which leads to me to my final point. This game is a perfect example of challenging but not bullshit, if you didn’t grow up with an NES or played at an arcade then you most likely aren’t aware of the “bullshit” factor or as I like to call it padding for older games. Whether that’s dying in a odd way or the level just out dicking you over (looking at you Castlevania III)! With Shovel Knight I never felt that the game was screwed me over, but rather it was my fault in how I approached a particular wall in my way. Which is how a game should be made.
Since I played the 3DS port the only negative aspect of Shovel Knight is the 3d itself. At points it’s a nice visual touch, but others it looks off. Just play the game with the 3D off and you’ll be fine.
To end all this, Shovel Knight does a great job of paying homage to the classic games of many people’s child hood, but with modern sense. Even if you never played a game from that era you’ll still enjoy it from start to finish. Plus this game will be a hit with completionist fans with the sheer amount of feats and new game plus. Plus the music for this game is sheer gaming bliss and enhances the gameplay.
Shovel Knight earns a 9/10