A Knight’s Quest is an example of an inventive and colourful video game which borrows a lot of pre-existing ideas from others. Most games are probably guilty of this, but sometimes it feels like some developers do a bit of a Frankenstein effort in putting borrowed ideas together to build their own experience. The most immediate and apparent influence is obviously Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda, mixed with the design of classic Rare platformers from the N64 era. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing given how the Xbox brand hasn’t exactly seen a wide array of Zelda style adventure experiences, indie clones or otherwise. The other influences are less obvious but certainly far from being coincidental, which include the action platforming sensibilities of Capcom’s lesser known classic Maximo and, believe or not, even SEGA’s Sonic Adventure.
A Knight’s Quest follows the journey of a reluctant and goofy hero named Rusty who accidentally finds himself in the heroic role, only because he himself accidentally unleashed an unspeakable evil on the land by sheer ignorance of the Homer Simpson calibre. Rusty is far from an ideal hero especially given the nepotism behind him, but against better judgment the legendary sword and shield chose him for all people to rectify the very evil that he unleashed out of sheer tomfoolery; being chosen to clean up his own mess really. It’s probably clear from the premise that this is a fun and whimsical adventure filled with a constant comedic undertone.
As a Zelda-styled 3D adventure, A Knight’s Quest borrows a lot from Nintendo’s flagship franchise; everything from the trademark z-targeting system (it’s a wonder why Nintendo didn’t file a patent for this) to how Rusty opens treasure chests. However, a poor man’s Zelda is both a harsh and an accurate description of Rusty’s adventure, with the overworld exploration being similar, but sorely lacking the same engaging design and wonder. It can be a bit of a slog to navigate the open world in fact, especially when a lot of it is empty and serving little purpose other than to pad out the game’s length. Where the game does shine a bit though is when it gets into the action platforming stages.
A Knight’s Quest on Xbox One functions much better as an action platformer than it does as a Zelda clone, where the stage design and combat take a page out of Capcom’s oft forgotten Maximo by featuring engaging platforming that is punctuated with close-quarters combat and huge boss battles. The level design is generally decent here, but is unfortunately marred by floaty and sloppy gameplay mechanics which don’t provide the accuracy needed to smoothly navigate the levels.
The controls function well enough, but the timing of execution tends to feel quite off which makes it easy to fall off or miss ledges. Taking a few cues from Sonic Adventure, Rusty can run across walls and also grind rails, and these mechanics generally work well but it can still be easy to slip up due to the floaty inertia of the character. The controls and mechanics hardly make the game unplayable, but they are still cumbersome enough. This even extends to the core combat where strikes and attacks don’t connect in a satisfying manner, making battles a bit boring despite some decent boss battle designs.
Graphically this is a game that feels rather unfinished and bland, where the character designs and models seem to resemble Xbox Avatars from the Xbox 360 days. The textures and lighting lack polish and the 3D world in general has an amateurish feel, so much so that even early Xbox 360 titles fared better in terms of graphics and presentation. A Knight’s Quest is clearly powered by a low budget 3D engine, but it functions well enough to be playable despite issues with framerate and pop up. The music is surprisingly one of the stronger aspects of the game’s presentation where the style is generally on the fun and whimsical side, but some of the tracks can be a bit on the dramatic side of things, which feel out of place given the comedic nature of the narrative and presentation.
There are not many adventures on Xbox which resemble The Legend of Zelda, and so A Knight’s Quest might be a fun little alternative for Xbox gamers who are after that style of adventure. For most gamers however, this is an average clone at best, which despite some good intentions simply underwhelms in execution.