We all love 2D platformers. The genre rose to popularity during the NES and SNES era but slowly faded into obscurity with the advent of 3D graphics. Over the past roughly 10 years, 2D platformers have seen a surge in popularity, in some AAA games, but mostly on the indie scene. Donkey Kong Country: Returns and Rayman Origins proved that 2D platformers can be inventive, and indie darlings like Shovel Knight showcased how well classic 2D platformers can perform when done right. Tight controls, colourful art, and bright music make Sir Lovelot a great experience that only adds to the genre.
Gameplay – Precise fun
The number one thing that previous hits in this genre have is precise controls; Sir Lovelot is no exception. Movement feels great, every single jump and move is precise and I rarely felt frustrated. You can also shoot bullets to damage enemies, which looks quite strange considering he is a knight. You also have a dash move which I didn’t find out about until halfway through the game; I stupidly didn’t check the controls in the options menu so that was on me. From the get-go, the pixelated knight leaves a good impression due to how well he controls.
One thing I would like to commend the game on is the lack of story, hence why there is no story section in the review. I personally prefer as little story in 2D platformers as possible. When there is too much dialogue or cutscenes, it can kill the pacing of an otherwise good game.
There are four worlds on show here, each with its own main mechanic that is slowly built upon to ramp up the difficulty. The second world introduces water, which I wasn’t a fan of; the game is extremely fast and movement feels accurate but too often I found myself battling with the swimming mechanics. There are a few other level mechanics like levers to open doors or buttons to move platforms but for the most part, the game sticks with traditional 2D platforming, which I loved.
The levels themselves are really well designed, typically littered with spikes, enemies, and plenty of obstacles to get prevent you from reaching the end. Dying puts you back to the start of the room but the instant load times meant there was never too long a wait to jump back into the action. This is a must in these types of games so hats off to pixel.lu for implementing it.
Having only four worlds meant the game is quite short – at 61% completion, I have 1:30 logged. There may be a few more hours in it for completionists but I was never one to 100% 2D platformers. How you would do this though is by finding collectibles in the levels and completing them in a certain amount of deaths. There are 4 collectibles – flowers are required to beat the levels; gems, rings, lollipops, and geese are all optional and count towards 100% completion. Rings and lollipops are usually out in the open, requiring you to complete a particularly difficult part of a level, whereas gems and geese are found behind secret walls, which Sir Lovelot does a good job at leading you to these if you keep your eye out.
There is very little in the way of boss fights. At the end of each world, there is a chase mission where you just run away from a rolling skull. I found these a fun way to change up the pace. They acted as a culmination of all the mechanics used in the world but with added urgency. The only true boss fight is the final boss and it didn’t really stand out in any regard.
I was expecting a challenge. I died on average 6.23 times per level, which isn’t much at all when I consider my playthrough of Super Meat Boy. While there is a small amount of trial and error, the levels are relatively simple to navigate. Finding the secrets and obtaining the optional collectibles is where the challenge arises. I personally think this is the best way for platformers to be designed. If you take the recent Donkey Kong Country games for example. Beating them poses some challenges, but trying for completion increases the difficulty, making it accessible to all fans of the platforming genre.
Graphics and Audio – A real standout
The presentation is by far the stand out in Sir Lovelot, oozing charm in every way. The protagonist himself is a cute knight and the enemy designs match the style. For such small sprites, they are extremely expressive. The four different worlds are essentially palette swaps. This would usually be an issue but the brevity of the game meant it never wore down on me.
The cuteness of Sir Lovelot is only amplified by the little ‘pew’ noises when you shoot or the bubble-like pop noise when you meet your untimely demise. Audio in general is solid, giving good feedback when you kill an enemy, die, or flick a switch. The tunes accompanying you on your adventure are a highlight. They match the style of the game perfectly and lend themselves to the frantic nature of a 2D platformer where every jump counts.
Sir Lovelot was reviewed on PS5, a review code was provided by Evolve PR