While it treads familiar ground, it does so with enough winking and nodding to classic action platform and open world games to be quite smile-worthy. Developer Sky9 and Curve Digital present A Knight’s Quest ($24.99) a fun and mostly very pretty looking homage to some greats, Fun as it is, it could use a patch to fix a few issues. That said, it’s quite exciting to see a game reach for the stars like this, but it’s also painful to see a few stumbles that keep it from 100% potential greatness. As noted above, a few fixes will make it the stellar experience it needs to be. Still, Curve Digital has a little sleeper on its hands that old-school platformer fans will find a lot to love.
As Rusty, a hero who’s a bit on the clumsy side, you start out the game finding a wooden sword and shield in a cave you’re exploring before all hell breaks loose a few minutes into things. This sequence shows off some thrilling platforming and a bit of combat as the cave is escaped, and high marks here for a nifty start to things. Plot-wise, it’s a “find the legendary heroes, gain elemental magic from each one than will help you in each area” thing you’d expect, but with a dose of lighthearted humor and Rusty riffing on what he can. The weird mix of styles to the game world (which mixes a sort of medieval fantasy setting with stuff like radios and chain link fences in areas that can’t be accessed right away) seems a bit odd, but it’s worth saying it works after seen enough times while exploring.
Additionally, if you like collecting stuff, the game goes out of it’s way to get you to search for secrets in hidden places or heck, almost anywhere you happen to be. From hidden treasure caches to singing slugs to breakables of a few types, it offers quite a few secrets to discover. It all feels like a throwback to another time or a game that means to keep you as busy as possible for as long as you’re playing. An amusing thing here is the game references Sky9’s Flash adventure/RPG from a while back, so some jokes will go right over a few heads unless that game was played. I didn’t see a hidden version of that game here, but I wasn’t looking everywhere thanks to blazing through some later maps to get this post up. It’s too bad Sony considers the Vita a lost cause, as the game looks like it would be a fine diversion on the portable or even better, a bonus for console owners.
There are a handful of NPC characters, but Rusty and his lady friend plus a few major enemies here get the most love, as do the expansive environments. At least there’s enough diversity in the otherwise bland NPC’s here, so that’s a good thing to see. Rusty also gets better gear and as mentioned, can use elemental magic that’s pretty powerful and can turn the tide against most enemies in a flash. While controls can be a bit floaty when jumping, landings can be had with ease. Combat feels a little lightweight at times, and the frame rate could use some tweaking in very busy areas. Still, the overall ease of use definitely is welcome for young gamers and those new to this sort of thing (this isn’t a Souls game, in other words). There is blocking and dodge-rolling here, but the game isn’t throwing nigh impossible enemies at you constantly and you can play defensively when you need to avoid foes or defend Rusty from melee and ranged attacks. The varied maps and optional side-quests will keep you more than busy, that’s for sure.
The game also tosses in all but the kitchen sink in some areas, so those who want variety in their gaming will appreciate the way the gameplay works in some areas where you’re kept guessing what will happen next. I’ll say no more save for thankfully, wall-jumping works well and once you get accustomed to the jumps, traversing the maps is pretty much a breeze. Tension packed, but otherwise, well done. As for problem areas, there are a few from getting hung up on items (forcing a restart early on), sometimes the attack button wasn’t responding (restart!), and a map system that could use markers and some additional refinement because the game world is so large.
Now, to the elephant in the room some are thinking of. It is a riff on the Legend of Zelda games? Sure, it is. But the game also uses a few other references to other games and while it needs that patching noted, it’s pretty decent, when you get down to it. The fair price point (it’s lower for PSN/Switch and Epic Game Store users for a short time) is attractive, bugs aside, it’s quite fun to play, and only the most jaded can dismiss this as a game that’s forgettable because they dislike the main character art. It grows on you as do Rusty’s animation as he screws up from time to time.
For a score, I’m giving this a fair one as well as a recommend with hope that patch fixes a few things as noted (and in a timely manner), as Curve has a nice and nostalgic game here that absolutely deserves a look. Go get it.
Score: C+ (79%)
-Review code provided by the publisher