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Knight Swap 2 Review: The Knights of Zen (Switch)

Chess knights and relaxation go hand in hand in the meditative Knight Swap 2. Looping ambient music overtop of a minimally designed puzzle board make for an unwinding experience. And with the Switch version, it's now possible to de-stress on the go!

Knight Swap 2 Review: The Knights of Zen (Switch) Cover

Knight Swap 2 is a new puzzling take on the infamous knight chess piece. The concept is to move the colored knights to their corresponding goals with the caveat of moving the pieces in the same L-shaped maneuvers as chess. The zen-inspired title has a stress free atmosphere that makes it easy to escape the world for a few moments (or hours) each day. Everything about the title is simple, and smooth. While the game can get a tad challenging, it offers a very simplistic introduction for players that may be new to the puzzle genre.

Following the release of  the first game in October 2019, Knight Swap 2 polishes and builds on the concept implemented in the first Knight Swap. The game was developed by Minimol Games and published to Steam in December 2019. Qubyte games ported and published the game to the Switch on May 19th, 2020. Knight Swap 2 is available on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Gameplay – Take the L

Knight Swap 2 gives a simple centuries-old mechanic its own space to shine. Knight Swap 2 has 100 levels, which progressively get more difficult and continue to add new twisting mechanics. In the beginning, the mechanics are as simple as possible with the basic L-shaped movement. Around every tenth level or so a new mechanic or tile will appear to introduce a fresh challenge to the board. As new mechanics are added older mechanics will have an additional layer of depth added to them. For instance, an early tile introduced is the [X] tile. This tile allows a knight to travel to it one time before it will disappear. In later levels, it will become necessary to flip the board upside-down, which would allow a knight to stand on either side of the [X] tile. This can allow for free movement on one side of the tile which is crucial for certain levels.

The other mechanics introduced throughout the game are plentiful. Portals, in typical portal fashion, transport knights from one tile to another. If a portal is blocked by a knight it will act as a regular tile instead of a teleporter. Linked knights will move across the board together at the same time. This was easily the most frustrating mechanic for me to work around. Having one piece to move, but two others wanting to join the race added ire to an overall peaceful experience. Several levels have a board and tile flipping feature. Some levels would have knight pieces or goals on the underside requiring the entire board to flip over to access them. In addition, there was the ability to flip specified tiles over without flipping the board, which allows you to move pieces to the required side. 

The button shown moves the puzzle board together from its original separated position.

The button shown moves the puzzle board together from its original separated position.

Organically, the touch controls and joy con controls both work just as well as the other, but both had their own issues. I tended to opt-in to the touch controls for the fact that movement worked better for me that way. The drawback was that I would tend to tap the wrong piece and because I was in the flow of the game I would move it incorrectly. In certain puzzles, this was frustrating and would require me to restart the level. Alternatively, the joy con controls could be more accurate, however moving the cursor around was a tad slow and on larger maps that required flipping around a lot this would become tedious. Eventually, I found a good hybrid system of using the touch controls for movement, and the joy con buttons for board and tile flipping.

Graphics and Audio – Just Relax

The stress-free atmosphere of Knight Swap 2 can be directly attributed to the non-imposing audio and minimalist graphic design of the game.  Graphically the game is about as simple as it comes. Essentially there are only squares and knights, but tiny things like portals, buttons and reversal’s do rear their head occasionally to break up some of the monotony. The game gives an option to change up the color scheme at any time. While I primarily played the game in the default color, I did explore the nearly two dozen different color schemes available. Each one is just as easy on the eyes as the default option, and is a great way to add in colorblind options for those that need them. All in all, the game’s visual aspect is meant to be as simple and easy-going as possible while making it easy enough to discern the different mechanics. 

Level 1 shows how simple the game starts, and is the ultimate image of simplicity the game offers.

Level 1 shows how simple the game starts, and is the ultimate image of simplicity the game offers.

The auditory side of the game is what I found the most relaxing during my play time. Any time I would take a small break, I would actually leave the game running so as to keep the music on and help bring the mood into the room. Light, melodic chiming notes were elegant, yet simple, so as to help wrap the entire vision for the game into one package. The audio loops seamlessly, so there is never a hard break which could possibly disrupt the mood. The downside is that after long periods of play time, the music may become a bit incessant, as there is only one tune for the entire game. In the intended short incremental play times, though, the music is just as pleasant as any piece would be.

Knight Swap 2 was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch, with a review key provided by QUByte Interactive.

Summary
Knight Swap 2 offers a wonderfully unique puzzling challenge to fans of the genre while keeping things simple enough for anybody to enjoy. It's a refined mobile-like experience that fits right into the ecosystem of the Switch. While it's easy to get into a nice flow, the controls can often times slow down what would otherwise be a seamless system. Regardless, the ingenius audio design and minimalistic style make it easy to get lost in a nearly endless, and sometimes frustrating, puzzling atmosphere.
Good
  • Relaxing
  • Ambient
  • Challenging
  • Perfect Time-Killer
Bad
  • Controls Can Slow Down The Flow Of The Game
9
Amazing

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