Take It For A Spin: Spiral Knights

You can tell they made Puzzle Pirates, can't you? Very camp.

Ooh, Spiral Knights is pretty good. It’s the upcoming free-to-play hack’n’slash MMOG from Three Rings, developers of the now-ancient Puzzle Pirates (and also currently working on the Doctor Who online game). No release date on Spiral Knights yet Spiral Knights will be out on April 4th, and the preview build just devoured a not-insignificant chunk of my afternoon without a care in the world. “How rude!” I cried, as I gunned another fox to death with a cool series of clicks. Trailer and thoughts after the jump.

In short, it’s a perfectly ordinary java-powered ultra-light RPG executed with plenty of heart and class. Your new character first crash lands on Spiral Island in an escape pod, and the image you see above is of the first camp you reach, where some of your people have dragged those escape pods together for shelter.

The combat’s clean, the loot-collecting is satisfying and the heavy emphasis on co-op would, I’m sure, be lovely if I’d just managed to find anyone else in my build. I’ll do another post about this when it goes live, but for now- yeah. Looks good. One clever mechanic is that while a run through a level will always net you plenty of coins and alchemical components, the “Heat” you collect that levels up your weapons only takes effect at the end of a level, and you lose it if you die. So you’ll always come away with something, but there’s always tension. Ooh, those fiendish developers. I’ll definitely be posting about this when it gets released.


  1. Valvarexart says:

    Java. Well, it could turn out real neato. But WHY Java?! Argh!

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Why not? They have the experience, they can do both client and backend in the same language, and it looks decent enough.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Why knock Java? It’s a nice language. Hopefully we’ll see full cross platform support on release with it being written in such a friendly language.

    • Poo Bear says:

      Because it just installed yet another service on my PC :( Not to mention that it will now regularly hassle me to update it. It should be installed and maintained quietly by windows update, Oracle and M$ should do some kind of evil deal and sort it out.

    • colinmarc says:


    • pakoito says:

      Java + LWGL I guess? It’s not my favourite combo and its performance is crappy at best, but hey! platform independent, amirite?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Java’s “write once, run anywhere” may be somewhat more complex than it should be, but it is more friendly to multiplatforming development than other languages…

      Spiral Knights has Mac and Linux support, as well as the normal Windows.

  2. salejemaster says:

    You currently need an invitation in order to log in and play Spiral Knights. The game will be available to everybody on 4 April 2011

  3. Altemore says:

    And this has absolutely no relation to the other game with almost the exact same title, Knights: Spiral Islands? What the heck
    link to indiedb.com

    • J-snukk says:

      It’s a Templar conspiracy obviously, those damned Templars are behind EVERYTHING!

      (p.s. do not believe the lies)

    • Altemore says:

      Spirals….knights…islands….IT ALL MAKES SENSE!

    • Diziet Sma says:

      I got initially confused by that having bookmarked that kick starter page for future reference, should I accrue the necessary spare funds to contribute.

    • Jerrus says:

      No, they’re not related. Isn’t Knights Spiral Island just a concept at this point? I was apart of Spiral Knight’s preview event in January 2010, and it’s been in development since at least early 2009 or 2008.

      Quintin did get something wrong that could create further confusion for those who remember Knights Spiral Island from a couple weeks back. There is no such thing as Spiral Island in Spiral Knights, the planet the knights crash on is called Cradle.

  4. Spoon says:

    I’ve been playing for about three days now, and its a decent little distraction. The main thing that stands out for me is that it is really hard to play the game at length without paying something. The game runs on an energy system, you get 100 every 24h and it costs 10 energy to play one floor. With no deaths (expect to die, the game is not easy), those 10 floors will only get you between 45-60 minutes of play per day. Upgrading equipment also costs energy, and seeing as how I’ve already run into equipment that takes 50 energy it just seems plain hard to play the game for free. Buying energy is pretty cheap though (it’s like $5 for 1600), so the game feels a bit more like a game with a decent demo and mandatory $5 subscription than a F2P.

    If you want to get into the preview: link to spiralknights.com
    If that link stops working, replace the number on the end with another.

    • Frozer says:

      Free to play is a great system if it is done non intrusive as World of Tanks and Battlefied Heroes. Instead it sounds like this is free-to-not-play.

    • DrazharLn says:

      If 100 energy gets me at most an hours worth of game time, then 1600 Energy for $5 sounds a bit steep. Maybe I’m just stingy.

      I’d much prefer less of these “free to play” games and more that offer a decent demo and then a one off price for the full game. They’d be more likely to get my money with that model.

    • Spoon says:

      You still get the 100/day if you purchase the 1600, so by my early estimates, that 1600 will probably last you about a month. I agree though, it’s not really the ideal execution of a F2P in the slightest.

      Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a market that has players buying/selling energy for ingame money, but it seems rather expensive.

    • Gravidos says:

      I’d like to point out that at first you’ll be stuck for energy, but eventually you’ll start getting rare items you don’t need, or recipes people don’t have and you can sell/make them for other people and charge energy and play totally free. (I played for about a month in one of the earlier preview events and this theory is tested and proven.)

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      This weekend had a great event where the energy cost went down (from 10 to 2 per elevator level). You could last a VERY long time on 100 energy provided you didn’t die or create items.
      I honestly think they should do it every weekend, they will certainly do it again at some point I assume.

      With that said, the game really is a lot of fun, I ended up playing for 4 hours in a row nonstop when I started. It’s like a torchlight clone but with somewhat less annoying mechanics.

    • machallboyd says:

      You can also buy energy from other players on an exchange for in-game money. If you’ve played Puzzle Pirates, you should be familiar with the system. The more there are people paying cash for energy, the more it drives down the in-game market.

  5. Daave says:

    My heart leapt when I saw the first screenshot and thought it might be something like Psychonauts.

  6. Shroom says:


    I felt like that trailer wanted to lightly graze my face with its big text. And for some reason I did not initially read “Clockwords” correctly, which gave a very different meaning to the game.

    Might have to look into this, Puzzle Pirates annoyed me with stupidly addictive it could be when I could have been doing much better things with my time.

  7. Wulf says:

    Didn’t see a link to this anywhere else, so…

    link to ow.ly

    Bit of an auspicious link, that. I shall say no more.

  8. Mr_Initials says:

    Could see this as a type of facebook game addiction for me.

  9. Hoaxfish says:

    The concept art is done by Ian Mcconville of Machall and ThreePanelSoul fame, and the ingame art is quite loyal to the style.

    The game itself is quite fun, if you like multiplayer Zelda. It’s nice because it’s actually quite “sci-fi”, rather than another reskinned fantasy MMO, it doesn’t have “classes” (mostly your weapon dictates your combat style, and you can carry two weapons with you).

    I’m quite pleased Sega picked it up, it fits with Phantasy Star Online quite well.

  10. notjasonlee says:

    it’s not letting me take it for a spin. this article is misleading!

  11. DaFishes says:

    Article is wrong; you don’t land on Spiral Island, you land on Cradle. There is no Spiral Island in Spiral Knights.

  12. pupsikaso says:

    Sounds and looks good, but what I wanna know is exactly in what ways will the ca$h shop ruin it?

    • pakoito says:

      Somebody said it before: you get ~1 hour of play a day. For 5$ you get an extra 16h bonus pack.

    • pupsikaso says:

      … you can’t be serious.

    • Wulf says:

      Wasn’t that what slew APB? Overcharging for what it was, I mean.

  13. pupsikaso says:

    What slew APB was it’s horrible missions design. And since doing missions was the only thing to do in the game, it wasn’t that they were overcharging for it, it was that they were charging for something not worth paying for.