Developed and published by Alexey ‘cptnsigh’ Shady Knight is an upcoming indie first-person action and platformer. In this particular title, you play as a Knight who must fight through scores of vicious enemies to save the day. Hacking, slashing, leaping and jumping your way to victory.
Shady Knight is a title that I have wanted to preview on KeenGamer for quite some time. Well, about a year or two if you are keeping track. And in that time, I have played two demo builds of it, and I’m happy to see how things are moving on. The game holds fantastic promise. The likes of which could easily make it one of the best action titles the year it releases. However, there are a few issues here and there that I feel need ironing out.
Shady Knight is available to wish list on Steam. A demo is available for download on their store page. A release date has yet to be announced.
Story – The Right Righting
As is typical for a game at this point in its development Shady Knight is light on story. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. This current preview build of the title gives you a nice slice of gameplay to sink your teeth into. Which, let’s be honest, is the real reason why we are here. And thankfully the gameplay more than lives up to expectations, but more on that in a little while. If I am to be critical, I do wish there was a little more context for what we are doing and why. But in this build, it isn’t a major mark against the game. And at this point in development, I’ll take no story over too much.
A more pressing matter however is the use of text and its placement within the game. Shady Knight takes the approach of pasting tutorial text on the map itself. Typically, on the walls that you’ll pass by. Whilst stylistically pleasing there are more than a few moments in this build where reading it can be difficult. In one particular sequence, I was trying to read something on the wall whilst dodging monsters. All the while not being sure if I had to kill them in a certain way to advance or not. Granted, part of my struggles with that come from dyslexia so your mileage will vary on that. Beyond that it’s smooth sailing for Shady Knight, and I can’t really complain about the writing as is. So, onto the gameplay!
Gameplay – Hack ‘n’ Jump
Shady Knight is a first-person action game with a sprinkle of platforming thrown in here and there. There are two types of levels that you’ll come across in this build. One type sees you charging your way to the top of the tower hacking and slashing as you go. Leaping over gaps and climbing up the side of the walls. All as you try to reach the top of the tower.
The other type of level is the Arena. In these, you must defeat a variety of enemies that will spawn in and attack you in an arena style. Additionally in both modes you are constantly graded on your combat skills; Similarly to Tunche you gain points for using a variety of moves as well as being quick to defeat your foes and the levels themselves. With bonus points for avoiding damage and not dying up for grabs too if you are skilled enough.
Full Force Fighting!
When everything is in full flow. Shady Knight’s gameplay is a thing if supreme beauty. Offering an experience that few other games can hold a candle to. It is hard to really put into words how great it feels. But when everything works, it works. This is aided by having some brilliantly intuitive controls and combat mechanics the likes of which are almost a work of art.
There are few sensations more awe-inspiring than leaping from a chain, launching yourself off an enemy warrior and then firing an arrow at his buddy sending them flying off the side of the level. It is really easy to pull off moves that would make John Wick jealous. And when you do, Shady Knight leaves you feeling like a badass. Even if like Ol’ Chris you are just some twerp who reviews video games for a living!
Get a grip!
As I said in the intro Shady Knight is a title that I have wanted to preview for quite some time. And I am happy to see that things are progressing nicely on it. And whilst the previous build of this that I played wasn’t unplayable the tweaks made to it have been a great thing to see. The controls feel a tad more refined and if you don’t like them, you can always rebind them. Something that feels like a rare treat in indie gaming circles.
There is little to find fault with Shady Knight and playing it for this preview has been a treat. And any issues that I have found are things that no doubt will be improved upon ahead of the final release. As is, all the title needs are a few tweaks here and there. A little more variety in the levels and monsters you face, and we could be onto something special.
Graphics & Audio – Good Knight!
The graphics and art direction of Shady Knight is something of a minimalist affair with a flare of the retro thrown in. The design of your foes seems to be an echo of early 3D shooters like Quake. Albeit in a smoother and texture-less way. All the foes are these black polygonal creatures. Some are zombies, others are spiders, and some are archers. All are well animated and with a distinct look that stops them from blending into the scenery. I’m not a major fan of the art style, but it is well executed.
But I do feel that the title is missing a certain flare to it. Fighting black blocks isn’t that visually interesting. Especially given how easy it is for them to just blend into themselves. This doesn’t harm the gameplay. As everything is telegraphed enough for you to know what is happening. But I can’t help but feel they are missing something. But what that is I can’t say.
The soundtrack for Shady Knight flits between moody and mythical fantasy scores to rather heavy Drum ‘n’ Bass like tracks. When the heavier sound comes in it is one that is thumping and plays well into the action as it takes place on the screen. Giving you a great soundtrack to get you pumping for moments of high-octane action. Aside from just being very well composed the soundtrack does change slightly in line with the player’s actions. With some occasional slow-mo’ moments that you trigger resulting in the soundtrack dropping to help emphasise your prowess.
Without repeating myself too much in this preview, Shady Knight does a lot of things right. And there is very little to fault its sound and presentation. With so much of it feeling rather feature complete already. But much like with the gameplay, I feel that a little more variety in the environments is needed. This is a very fantastic base to build from. And whilst a melee-based first-person game might not be for everyone to those that love them would be foolish to sleep on this one.