Published on December 23rd, 2012 | by Mark Gibson, Editor/Community Manager
Black Knight Sword Review
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture and SUDA 51
Genre: Action, Side scrolling
Platform: Xbox 360 via Xbox LIVE Arcade [Reviewed],PlayStation 3 via PSN
Release Date: Dece. 12, 2012
Price: 800 MS Points
Review Notes: A copy of Black Knight Sword on XBLA was received for review purposes .
If you have ever wondered what Little Big Planet would be like if it was created by someone with serious sleep deprivation and is possibly under the influence of illicit substances, then Black Knight Sword is the game for you.
Don’t let that description mislead you. Black Knight Sword can be quite challenging, while also deeply confusing. The game starts as the opening to a vaudeville looking play with Burton-like scenery and weird-faced creatures that resemble a geriatric goomba. Don’t try to understand the story because it won’t make any sense in the slightest. Just know that you are essentially a knight who works for a sword spirit sent on a mission to defeat an evil princess.
The graphic style of the game can be entertaining, and the weirdness factor is soon forgotten as the difficulty increases. However, be very careful and save often as there is no automatic save feature in this game. Once all of your lives are up, it’s game over and you get sent back to the beginning of the stage. This can end up being quite frustrating, for as we all know most games have the auto save feature in addition to checkpoints which has, in a way, trained our brains to not manually save on a regular basis.
Aside from that minor inconvenience, gameplay is very straightforward. You attack with your sword, use magic when overwhelmed with enemies and work your way through puzzles featured in each of the five stages. The combat is a simple hack-and-slash, single-button masher. There aren’t combos, only a single motion/animation that is dealt. You can launch your swords spirit at enemies, but the spirit moves slowly and you are prohibited from any further actions until the spirit returns. This really makes the spirit move useless for combat.
The real use for the spirit is to activate hidden blocks that can be used to reach certain areas or activate devices. The enemies get stranger as you go along, like the weird chicken man that throws blue eggs at you. However, they present a good challenge and can even overwhelm you at times if you are not careful. Don’t forget to collect the dead enemies’ hearts. You’ll need those to cash in for ability upgrades.
There is a very limited amount of upgrades that you can give to your knight. One of the more frustrating ones is an armor boost that only last for a few whacks from an enemy before it’s gone. It’s advertised as an armor upgrade but functions more like a temporary overshield.
The lack of upgrading is disappointing but won’t take away too much from the game. There is even an achievement for not purchasing any upgrades, which in a way make the few upgrades available seem like an afterthought. Buying upgrades can be done from this strange wheel of mouths that eat the hearts you give it. You can only access the wheel by freeing the odd bird/lightning bug creature from a cage that sits upon a human leg table. Once again, don’t try to understand it, just go with it.
Now for the strangest part of the game, the sound design. It’s one thing to have a weird soundtrack; it’s another to add creepy moans and the constant rumble of clanking armor. The grampa-goombas, as we will call them, make very strange moans. There are several that spit fire and make a sound that resembles someone who is throwing up while getting a very relaxing massage at the same time. In fact, every creature in the game makes an odd noise that just adds to the thought “what is going on right now?”.
Final Truth: Black Knight Sword is a really weird game, but can be enjoyable if you look past its strangeness. If you don’t think too much about the storyline, the game itself can be quite challenging. Just be sure to save your game often as there is no auto-save feature beyond checkpoints, which can be very frustrating if you are not mindful of your extra lives.
+ Easy gameplay
+ Stages present a good challenge as you progress
– Story is vague and doesn’t make much sense.
– Sound design is weird and annoying at some points
– Lack of ability upgrades