Have you ever wondered what platformer could be out there that you haven’t seen or played before? Then wonder no more. From Grasshopper Manufacture comes a different twist on an old fairy tale – better known as Black Knight Sword.
But before you label it as “just another performer”, it’s anything but that. You assume the role of the Black Knight, as you explore a strange world that’s filled with even stranger creatures, on a mission to kill the dark princess. While the story itself sounds simple and straightforward enough, the adventure is anything but ordinary.
The visuals – while not mind-blowing – are very beautiful and interesting to say the least. The entire game’s setting is as if you were watching a play in an auditorium or theater, but you play the lead role. As you progress through the levels, some of the background scenery changes in the form of theater props. The colors have a hand-painted look to them and are very well suited for this particular game. And while it’s kind of difficult to pay attention to your surroundings while slashing away at the odd quirky creatures, definitely take a minute to enjoy the scenery.
For sound, you have a narrator who periodically chimes in to tell your story’s progress for each level and provides helpful (and humorous) cues of what’s in store next for your character. My favorite quip so far is what is said shortly before the first boss fight, about how there’s a chill wind in the air, which is normally an omen for impending doom.
Then there’s the gameplay. You won’t have to concern yourself with trying to remember a bunch of fancy attacks and maneuvers here. It does help though if you have played platformers before, because you’ll be performing plenty of double jumps, mid-air sword slashes, and even using some magic. You’ll also be using your armor in attacking your foes and activating switch blocks (the armor reminds me of Spider-Man’s black symbiote suit; you’ll see what I mean at the beginning of the game).
To accompany the hack and slashing, there’s definitely blood to be spilled as you dispose of your enemies. Maybe not exactly by the gallons here, but there’s still plenty of it. All the more reason to give the game a “Mature” rating. And when you’re not on a killing spree, then you’re busy exploring the landscape to collect Cat Head Grass to have on display in your gallery (don’t ask). All in all, there’s certainly plenty to do here to keep you occupied.
The only fault I found with Black Knight Sword was the power-up item descriptions were difficult to read. You obtain power-ups from the shopkeeper (whom is unlike anyone – or anything – I’ve ever seen before) and the items range anywhere from an extra life to restoring your health to adding extra defense to your armor. But the descriptions for each item are in small print and the font color tends to blend in with the item card color, making it a challenge to read just what you’re purchasing.
Aside from that small nuisance, Black Knight Sword delivers a refreshing, odd game playing experience. It’s certainly a nod to classic platformers with the simplistic yet challenging gameplay, but also very addictive and unlike other platformers that came before it. If you’re wanting to play something on the more quirky side, then this game is definitely it.
Platform: XBox 360 (XBox Live Arcade)
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: D3Publisher of America, Inc.
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
|While nothing over-the-top, the overall visuals are still gorgeous and definitely add to the game's quirky environment.|
|Decent background music and a witty narrator add to the charm.|
|It's simple. It's addictive. It's flat out weird. But most importantly, it's FUN.|
|A very likable game worthy of being in any gamer's collection.|