Black Knight Sword, a platformer released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on December the 11th. I have played this over the Christmas period – why would I do that outside of having to for this awesome website? Simply I wouldn’t. That’s not to say it’s a bad game – it isn’t – but a Christmas release? Really? I can’t help but think this would have had a better shot at getting recognised if it was released after the Christmas period.
That aside, Black Knight Sword, a side scrolling platformer co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacturer and Digital Reality. Grasshopper Manufacturer being involved in the development is what should peak people’s interest – Grasshopper means Suda51, who has famously worked on Killer7, No More Heroes and most recently Lollipop Chainsaw. Suda51 is somewhat of an auteur – the Tarantino of the video game world I would say. Yet, Black Knight Sword is only good. Not amazing, just not a waste of money. It feels a little underdeveloped, lacklustre. Hell, the only reason it doesn’t get boring is because you can finish the game in under 4 hours. Less if you’re playing on easy difficulty. The game offers nothing particularly new to the table – jump here, go through that door, kill this enemy (the enemies don’t even vary much), beat the boss then BAM you get a new attack. Not that you need new attacks – you can easily beat the game just smashing X whenever you see an enemy. But I’m just ranting now – there are brilliant aspects to this game. Let’s talk about them constructively, because I actually really enjoyed this game despite the mechanics been bland and the game been short.
The aesthetics of the game are fantastic – the entire layout of the background, middleground and foreground are very clever. The game presents itself as a traditional English tale – you are the Black Knight, as the games narrator will constantly tell you, and you must go on your quest to defeat the evil princess and the White Knight and…that’s about it. There isn’t any reasons given as to why you have to travel through areas, they don’t seem to connect at all, but it is very clear that the aim of this game isn’t to show off a grand in-depth tale, it isn’t pretending to be something that it isn’t, so credit where it’s due. No, where this game really shines is the aesthetics and the level design. You are basically playing a character in a play – as you walk along the level the background changes as would a backdrop in a play, once you finish a level the curtains close and the silhouette of an audience appears to give you a round of applause – it’s very stylistic and charming. Think of a combination of the styles in Alice: Madness Returns and Rock of Ages. Then think of them in a style of a popup book. Kind of like in Yoshi’s Island (Nintendo 64) except darker and with more blood. It’s fantastic, some of the levels are gorgeous. Go check out some videos on youtube and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the levels may give your eyes an orgasm, maybe. I know mine got rather excited.
Speaking of orgasms, I have to give kudos to Black Knight Sword for what I assume is a nod towards The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majoras Mask. There is an enemy later in the game that you cannot kill – only stun. If you touch him he will cling to your back and thrust himself into you, whilst he makes groaning noises and hearts float from his head. Reminded me of the re-dead at the bottom of the well in Zelda, yep, that was a great addition to Black Knight Sword. You will find bits of humour here and there if you have a dark sense of humour. He’s not the only memorable enemy in the game – the regular enemies are pretty boring, but the bosses are great. There’s a fantastic spider boss, along with a giant chicken. Not even in a ‘LOL it’s a chicken boss’ kind of way, it’s actually a really fun boss, although technically she’s not the real boss. However I’m not going to spoil it all for you, you’ll have to find out yourself. It’s just a shame the game is so short and there isn’t a little more depth to the story – maybe 3 more levels and just a little more of the tale and this game would certainly be a must buy, however the game does leave the ending open for a sequel, so perhaps we will be treated to something a little more next time.
Price wise, it’s not too bad. 800 Microsoft Points – buy it if you’re into cult games, you are interested in unique are styles or love simple platformers. If you are interested but lack the cash or you’re not sure, wait for this to go on sale at a later date. If Black Knight Sword was 400-600 Microsoft Points I would definitely recommend buying it, it’s certainly worth a look
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.