If you’re reading this on the day of publishing, you’ve probably just had a look at my review of Tearaway: Unfolded.
For me, it was symptomatic of modern video games; it looked nice, but ultimately offered no challenge and its supposed value was bolstered by pointless and repetitive side quests that made up more than 50% of the overall experience. And really, who has the time or the inclination to bother with that?
On the other side of the coin now we have Shovel Knight (available on almost every platform but I played it on the PS4).
I decided to take the plunge though, and I’m glad I did.
Though it’s not the longest game in the world and is designed in that 8-Bit NES style (which I have to say I love but I’m aware that some developers seem to use it as a crutch to hide bad game design) this is everything that modern games like Tearaway: Unfolded are not; it’s challenging and it’s fun.
To complete Shovel Knight requires skill. You have to be able to make use out of the weapons you buy and there has to be a certain amount of ability to learn when to use moves and how to traverse the many potential platform dangers in the game. And that’s great.
You won’t just complete Shovel Knight by putting it on and sitting there for ten hours going through the motions; you have to work for it.
On the other side of the coin though, this isn’t ridiculously difficult like some games, or at least not for my skill level. In the past similar styled platformers like Ms. Splosion Man 2 have seemed like a frustrating exercise in muscle memory; the sort of game you just want to break your control pad over. You might have to replay a part of the Shovel Knight five, ten or even twenty times before you get past it but when you do, you’ll feel you’ve earned it.
Similarly, bosses aren’t too hard, nor do boss fights last 20 minutes. For me there’s nothing more frustrating than spending ages on a boss fight only to have to die and start again from the beginning. This gets boss fights right. Hard enough but not too bad.
And there aren’t hundreds of pointless side quests either,
Really, this was a single player platform game that ticked all the boxes and hit the sweet spot in terms of difficulty and enjoyability.
Unlike Tearaway: Unfolded, this is a game that absolutely deserves the praise it gets.
The only thing I would mark it down on is that having tried it on the PS Vita (the game is a cross-buy so if you buy it for one Sony console you buy it for them all) and on that, the controls seemed fiddly and frustrating. That’s a problem with the Vita rather than the game though I think.
So if you’re going to buy it then play it on a your PS4 or Wii U rather than on a handheld.
Either way though, make sure you do buy it. It’s fantastic.