What’s missing from every great fairy-tale you’ve ever read? I’ll give you a list: an eight bit sound track, knights who fight with shovels and of course a mysterious merchant who appears out of a chest. Luckily for you Shovel Knight has all these things and more as you fight through the Order of No Quarter to save the love of your life.
Where do I begin? Shovel Knight was first released on Nintendo 3DS, Wii U and PC in 2014 and was ported to Linux and OSX in the same year. PS3, PS4 and the Vita got their hands on this delightful game in April of 2015, which shows how well Yacht Club Games have done with the title. Shovel Knight puts you in control of well… Shovel Knight. He must fight his way through a seemingly endless supply of bad guys with just his trusty shovel and an array of magical relics. Shovel Knight feels practically identical on all consoles but this review is based on my experiences from the VITA and PS4.
Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight was clearly inspired by games from the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Entertainment System eras. This is your basic 2D side-scrolling epic adventure but with the added bonus of interesting RPG elements, compelling storyline and just enough character development to forge a connection with gamers of all ages. Shovel Knight has multiple areas, each sporting a multitude of enemies, hidden areas and traps. This makes for an interesting, exciting and visually pleasing video game (yes I realise it’s 8 bit).
With an array of side quests which include boss fights and treasure troves, Shovel Knight’s adventures are not just tied to the main missions. There are two villages where you’ll find yourself spending your gold to unleash the true fury of your shovel and armour. I recommend hitting every odd looking wall and talking to every villager, knight and even child you come across. This is because the adventure boasts so much to see and do.
Shovel Knight’s only drawback is its relatively short story (less than 6 hours for myself on the first go), but with a new game + mode and a plethora of trophies, the number of hours one could get out of the product is well worth the measly 22NZD. It brings me so much joy when a game takes advantage of Sony’s cross save feature. This had me switching from PS VITA to PS4 as I transferred from bed to couch and back again. Nothing makes me love a game more than if it encourages my laziness. Shovel Knight is a difficult game at times, I found myself taking breaks after dying more than a dozen times on particular sections. The game has a Dark Souls inspired respawn system where a portion of your gold is left behind after every death. The added difficulty of being punished for consecutive deaths will see the game’s pace slow. But any excuse to spend more time in Shovel Knight is fine with me.
With the promise of future DLC, Shovel Knight is a game that is worth the small entrance fee. The game is exciting, fun filled and challenging, it’ll keep you coming back for multiple playthroughs. All that holds this game back from perfection is length.