May 5, 2019 at 3:52 AM #1340
Rating: 3.0 – Fair
Fun For the Whole Party
This review was written on January 13, 2017 for Version 126.96.36.199 of Knight Squad
Referred to by many as a mix of Bomberman and Gauntlet, Knight Squad – a small indie game developed by Chainsawesome Games – fits the excessively elusive party game niche. Allowing for up to eight-player co-op through shared-screen and online play as well as a limited selection of timed single player challenges, Knight Squad guarantees fun times and rage alike.
After making their way through a sometimes-functional main menu, players can choose from single player challenges, online or local multiplayer, and an interesting feature called Bots Showdown, where players can watch the AI play against itself. The challenges feature six elementary encounters with AI opponents that test reaction speed, pattern memorization, and quick thinking, but don’t do anything special to generate a unique experience. At the very least, they serve as a good introduction to the game’s myriad of weapons and provide an opportunity to figure out the game’s physics. Obviously enough, the real meat of the game lies in the multiplayer. Sporting nine different game modes with varied team functionality, Knight Squad is poised to throw players into hours of arena/arcade heaven – more so when enjoyed with friends. Paired with postgame leaderboard display, light RNG weapons and upgrade spawns, and furiously energetic electronic tracks, tensions rise delectably quickly.
As a top-down 2D game Knight Squad’s biggest mistake is its failure to capitalize on the benefits of twin-stick shooter controls. Instead, player aim is tied towards the front-facing direction, meaning combat usually devolves into a series of well-timed spin moves where players attempt to orient themselves correctly and expose themselves as minimally as possible. This design choice was probably made to limit the amount of cheese that would inevitably come out of melee chases, but it makes aiming with long range weapons inaccurate, clunky, and frustrating. Aside from that, though, all the weapons in Knight Squad are interesting, fun to use, and well-balanced. Some of the more unique ones, such as the ricocheting Ripper, have a marginally higher skill ceiling than the basic swords or bows but can pay off exceptionally well with practice.
Speaking notionally, Knight Squad is all substance and no soul. The content is there and it can be exceptionally fun, but it feels neither original nor robust in any regards. The arcade elements work well with each individual game mode, but the lack of any form of long-term progression, reward, or unlock system makes each match feel too self-contained for my liking. Additionally, four game modes are locked behind a $5.00 paywall, meaning that on top of the already heinous price tag, not all the content is available. Knight Squad is good, some parts of it are great, but there’s just nothing it offers bar a few hours of a good time.
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