the most charming game in existence.
What I Played: Beat the game in 5 hours 57 minutes on the Nintendo 3DS.
SHOVEL KNIGHT is a really good game, let’s just start out with that. What’s so incredible about it is that it’s not made by a giant team at a major studio but a small Indie developer named Yacht Club Games that somehow made a game better than pretty much everything this year so far.
In SHOVEL KNIGHT you play, well, Shovel Knight. The gist of the story is that Shovel Knight & his partner Shield Knight journey to The Tower Of Fate where a cursed amulet releases a dark power. The tower seals up, Shovel Knight awakens & Shield Knight is no where to be seen. A villain named The Enchantress & her squad of elite knights, The Order of No Quarter are terrorizing the peaceful realm.
And it’s up to Shovel Knight to dig to the root of this mystery.
The gameplay of SHOVEL KNIGHT is basically if MegaMan, Castlevania, The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario & DuckTales all got drunk & had a big nasty gang bang. Out of this drunken hot mess, SHOVEL KNIGHT would somehow be born. It’s a 2D side scrolling action platformer with a heavy emphasis on tight controls, wicked sub weapons & devious enemies.
The levels are MegaMan in the sense that each main stage features a boss at the end in which you must defeat in order to progress. Every major dungeon is its own flavour with unique enemies, gameplay mechanics & secret collectibles.
It’s basically awesome.
The bosses in particular are wickedly fun encounters that each feel unique in someway. For example the above photo boss, Mole Knight, wields lava & crashes the level with his drill attacks. He felt like MegaMan X’s Armoured Armadillo meets Flame Mammoth so I of course lost my mind. The fights are challenging but they’re not pull your hair out & throw yourself into traffic hard.
If you keep a calm mind, assert yourself & devote the concentration, they’re not too bad. Unless it’s Polar Knight, who’s just all kinds of badass.
The over world might also look strangely familiar & that’s because SHOVEL KNIGHT combines the look of Super Mario’s over world with a sleek combination of boss levels, side missions & towns for you to explore. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I saw it.
Oh yeah you can also upgrade yourself, which is sweet.
When you collect money you can upgrade your shovel to new heights as well as buy new suits of armour that have various effects on gameplay. One set makes it so you lose less money when you die, another makes your momentum & speed faster but it makes it harder to stop after running. Sort of like Luigi in the Super Mario games.
You can also unlock sub weapons like the Throwing Anchor & Fire Wand. These weapons among others use your mana which is similar to old school Castlevania & how you used hearts to throw like a dagger. Various sub weapons have different effects & can be used in various ways keeping the gameplay fresh.
You can also upgrade your Zelda-like health bar or mana by eating certain foods or potions given to you by town vendors. It adds a decent amount of customization to the game, although I would’ve like to see more. But for the first game in this series, I can’t really complain.
And the music? Pffft. It’s great. My only real complaint about the game is when you die your money is left on the area you died in. So if you fall in a bottomless pit, your money kind of lingers over the pit. So…how do you get it back? Doesn’t seem like you can. So that’s my only negative but it doesn’t hurt the game really, besides that this game is…this game is nice.
SHOVEL KNIGHT is the perfect marriage of everything you loved as a gamer when you were a kid. With its excellent gameplay, wicked fun boss fights, cute style & perfectly tuned difficulty curve it’s hard not to say this game is worth your time.
In the sea of big budget games that don’t seem to take any risks, SHOVEL KNIGHT turns out to be one of if not the best game of 2014 by far. If you love video games & want to have a great time, this is the game for you.
You could say I…dig it.
By: MILAN JEGENJAN