Knight Squad: Smash Shit and Yell “FUCK”
After one round of Knight Squad I described it to my editor as the tagline you see above. Perfect multiplayer. Many hours later my opinion remains unchanged. Knight Squad is exactly what I want in a competitive multiplayer game and one round is all it takes to prove that. Every review of this game will feature this comparison but the game is described as Bomberman meets Gauntlet. Dichotomies are too simple, but at the very least this should get your attention. If you haven’t played either of those games stop reading this, walk to your bathroom, look in the mirror, then slap yourself in the face.
The gameplay is set up in many different arenas with a constant eight player battle. You have no choice but to fill in the gaps with bots, but this isn’t a bad thing. Everyone gets their own color knight and most games involve murdering everyone many times. My roommate and I dove into the game with the bots set to medium and I’ve never had a better experience with non human characters. The bots were a challenge in every mode we played but it was still possible to beat them. I never turned the difficulty any higher than that because by default they were set up perfectly right off the bat.
Knight Squad has a simplicity I haven’t seen in years. The visuals are basic but still colorful and fun to look at. You move with the left stick, use your weapon with every other button. That’s it. These are Atari Controls, people. You can have four fingers blown off on both hands and play this game. You start with a basic sword to murder your pals with but other power ups will get you a bow, a lightning staff, and…a laser pistol? Maybe not the most thematic weapon but you won’t care because murder.
The game isn’t just murder, however. There’s a free-for-all capture the grail mode, a team capture the flag, team control points in domination, team deathmatch, last man standing, soccer, king of the hill, a base destruction game called Crystal Rush, and my personal favorite: Juggernaut. Juggernaut puts players against each other by putting a chain gun in the middle of the map and everyone scrambles to pick it up and murder each other. Soccer was more fun than I expected. Your team just pushes a boulder back and forth until it lands in the goal. The game doesn’t care who pushed the boulder into the goal so you’ll score on yourself, which is fun. Oh, also you can murder each other. The map variety just adds to the chaos, with every location set up in a way that actually changes the game. Take for example the juggernaut mode I previously mentioned. On the first map everyone runs toward the center, but on another map the juggernaut power up is across the map and everyone starts in a line like the world’s weirdest game of football. Hint to players, on that map turn and kill your neighbor immediately, they’ll love you forever.
If you’re looking for solitary gameplay outside of bots there are challenge modes. As of right now there are about eight modes and each of them gives you a timer and a goal. These modes are way better than I expected but also a lot more challenging as in hard to complete type of challenging. I haven’t even finished them all, but I did spend a good forty-five minutes trying to kill a pack of trolls wielding shields and the ability to run you over and kill you. Once I managed to figure out how to kill them the victory was sweet, but short lived. The challenge I’m stuck on involves having to run back and forth snagging different weapons to bust through some crystals and kill some spore-spitting enemies underneath. I managed to kill them all and then the giant energy ball in the center came to life and kill me. It’s hard, but you’ll get addicted and play these over and over again. It’s not the most satisfying single player feature, maybe a quest mode or some sort of goal based challenge through the multiplayer modes.
When we started playing Knight Squad I asked my roommate to join me for a round or two to get a feel for the game. We ended up playing for a couple hours without noticing. We ended up trying every mode available, but there was still stuff to do after that with a ton of maps for every mode and various customization elements. There was a magic to Knight Squad, something I haven’t felt with party games in a long time. The games were quick and it was so easy to pick up I never felt like I had the advantage when playing with new people. Knight Squad is definitely in my top five for the year. It was surprising, quirky, and even though it doesn’t seem ideal to play solitary I’d still recommend Knight Squad to everyone.
Final Verdict 4.5 / 5
Available on: PC (reviewed), Xbox One ; Publisher: Chainsawesome Games; Developer: Chainsawesome Games ; Players: 1 – 8 (Local/Online) ; Released: November 16, 2015 ; ESRB: MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Knight Squad provided by the game’s publisher.