Knight Squad is a uniquely refreshing take on the arcade arena genre. It breaks the conventions that medieval games usually entail – that of bashing shields and riding on horse back while arrows rain down from the sky – and does something unexpected with its medieval setting. Rather than sticking to the more serious tones of medieval warfare, it takes great pleasure in acting as more of the court jester of the arcade world…in a very interesting way.
From the moment I loaded up the game, I knew I was in for something very different to what I had been playing in recent months. Whether it’s been a massive open world, or a vast expansive shooter, there has been no shortage of games to play. All this however has become very tiring and I have felt a bit over encumbered with all the hours I have sunk into these games. Knight Squad manages to act as a refreshing palette cleanser that has revitalised my love for the arcade genre.What really stands out to me about the game is its easy to pick up and play controls. You use the left stick to move and one face button to hit. It couldn’t be more simple. Especially in a time where control schemes seem to be getting more and more crowded as games get more complicated.
The game has ten game modes. These are Free-for-All, Last Man Standing, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Soccer, Gladiator, Juggernaut, Crystal Rush, and Capture the Grail. For each game mode there are three settings to play with if you are participating in local multiplayer: time alteration, bot difficulty and 3-4 map layouts. The first four game modes I listed are fairly self explanatory and can be seen in most multiplayer battle games. However certain modes like Soccer and Juggernaut are a bit more unique to Knight Squad.
The game mode I’ve found myself playing most was Capture the Grail as I found it really represents what Knight Squad does best. It was a mode in which one Holy Grail spawns in the middle of the playing field with the objective of the eight surrounding players to try capturing it for themselves in an attempt to win the round – all whilst collecting power ups and weapon upgrades along the way. The power ups added an interesting dynamic to the mode as I would constantly be weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of going for them instead of the grail. The power ups give the players certain special abilities from riding on horses to shooting lightning.
There is a second half to Knight Squad and that comes in the form of challenges. These are a set of six single player, almost horde like, challenges where you will come up against Skeletons, Worms, Trolls, Dragons, Knights, and finally a Bullet hell boss. Each challenge presents you with a unique weapon power up and a new obstacle to overcome. The challenges ramp up in difficulty, culminating with you having to face the dreaded Hell boss on the sixth and final challenge. Although this game mode added something different to the game, I don’t feel as if it managed to live up to the games multiplayer mode. Each challenge took no more than a couple of tries to complete, meaning that it was over very quickly. Also, although each enemy was sufficiently different from the last, they never really felt unique enough to keep me interested in finding out what was next.
Knight Squad definitely isn’t the most visually impressive game, but then it doesn’t need to be. The game is a top down, arena beat em up, with no need to be as graphically impressive as other titles. To my delight, it seems that gameplay has clearly been put first which is good because it lends the game to being immensely repayable in between all the big releases which may of over shadowed it recently. The audio could be better, my main criticism being that the game continues to loop the same music track over and over again which does become annoying after just a few rounds of the game.
Overall, Knight Squad is great fun to sit down and play with or without your friends. With ten different game modes and a mountain of different power ups, you will struggle to feel as if you aren’t getting good value for money from the game. The only big let down being the easy to finish challenge mode. However this shouldn’t turn you off an otherwise fantastic game.