Shovel Knight Digs Its Way To Your Heart

Shovel_Knight_1016x302BY DEAN MOSES

Game: Shovel Knight
Platform: PlayStation 4,
PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita,
Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U,
Windows, Mac and Linux
Rated: E for Everyone
Cost: $14.99

Nowadays, gamers are spoiled. Countless big budget titles are released each year leaving us unable to choose which game to spend our money on. However, there is one aspect to today’s oversaturated market that may leave some players feeling a little empty handed. Despite the amazing graphical capability of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we may have lost something, the heart and soul of what video games used to be, a way to just sit down and have some fun. Thankfully, Yacht Club Games has brought that heart back to a new generation with Shovel Knight.

A Knight’s Tale

The game opens with Shovel Knight and his companion, Shield Knight, as the pair explores the mysterious Tower of Fate. While inside they come across a cursed amulet. All of a sudden Shovel Knight wakes up to find the tower sealed and Shield Knight nowhere in sight. Distraught by these events, Shovel Knight decides to live a life of solitude. While our hero is grieving, an evil villain named the Enchantress and her band of knights, the Order of No Quarter, seizes the land. With this new evil consuming everything and the tower of fate now unsealed, you must help Shovel Knight through each dangerous level, defeat every member of the Order of No Quarter and enter the Tower of Fate so he can face the Enchantress once and for all.

A Simpler Time

Simpler TaleIf you are old enough, you may remember how games used to look in the time of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). A time when your avatar was a 2D sprite, a time when you had to traverse pitfalls, scale platforms and end of level bosses could make your heart stop. This time period is where Shovel Knight draws its inspirations. It’s almost like a love letter to all the best retro games of the era. Visually it looks comparable to a NES game, just without any glitches that were so often present at that time. Just like one of the most popularly NES games, Mario 3, you navigate stage to stage from an overhead map. From here you can revisit stages you have already completed, upgrade your health, magic, armor, weapon, talk to locals at the villages and even accesses some bonus levels.

A Need For Greed

Need for GreedBeing a 2D retro style game you will find yourself dodging all kinds of projectiles, jumping over spikes that could kill you with one touch and facing those gigantic bosses that your dad told you about. Luckily though, Shovel Knight is exactly that, a knight with a shovel, being such he is quite capable of defending himself. Don’t let this cavalier’s choice of weapon fool you. He can use this garden tool to dig up diamonds from mounds of dirt, come crashing down on enemies from above or simply walk up to a baddie and give him a good old whack. The good knight can also find and purchase magical relics, these interesting items provide you with new abilities such as being able to shoot fire or become briefly invulnerable to attacks. These relics will really help you along the way because you will die, a lot. Whether your death comes at the hands of a dragon blowing bubbles or by a misplaced step that leads to you falling down a bottomless pit, be sure it will come. To prevent you from starting over the entire level when you die, each stage has a transparent orb, passing this crystal ball will mark a checkpoint, so if you die you restart at that location.

However, there is an alternative. The action of smashing these glass objects will provide you with money that you can spend in the village. So ask yourself, do you walk away and leave the gold or destroy the orb and sacrifice a checkpoint? This very risky choice is yours.

Shovel Knight is a much-needed change from the first person shooters and beat ‘em up games that flood the market. It’s an experience that will fill you with nostalgia if you owned a NES or deliver a whole new kind of game if you were too young to have one. Developer Yacht Club Games has made something that was old new again. If you are looking to shoot a gun and have realistic graphics, you won’t find them in here, but if you want something made with love and unlike anything else, then you owe it to yourself to play Shovel Knight.

Check out Dean Moses’ interview with game developer, Yacht Club Games.