Oof, what a dour Friday it’s been. I feel like every time I’ve opened a tab on this here internet and decided to clatter my fingers across the keys, I’ve been moaning and complaining about something or other. What a delight it was to see Shovel Knight in the Steam new releases. “This’ll dig out the dirt and cast away the cobwebs”, I thought to myself, not really worrying that I wasn’t making any sense.
Shovel Knight is from one of gaming’s oldest schools – it’s a side-scrolling, flip-screen platformer – and it’s a lovely wee thing.
I’ve only been playing for an hour so this isn’t a judgement of any sort, just a few spare words about a game that’s surprised me with its gentle design. It’s fair to say that anything of a retro nature tends to make me a tad cynical and even if I break past that, I expect a difficulty level so hard that I’ll be on the floor crying or smashing my keyboard rather than grinning and chortling. Not that I have been grinning and chortling very much, but that’s just me. I crack a smile less often than Mount Rushmore.
The level design isn’t frustrating though. Enemies and obstacles are fairly placed, and death is not the end. Lost coinage can be collected from the spot where you died, which adds an incentive to experiment a little, knowing that recovery is usually possible.
Along with the tight design, the world is a charming and weird place as well. Animal-human hybrids co-exist with various fantasy stereotypes in peaceful villages, being good natured and cheering on the Shovel Knight. I’m looking forward to digging (HAHA) into it more this weekend.