Yacht Club Games
Wii U, 3DS, PC, Mac OSX
Prepare to dig your way to victory with Shovel Knight, the game that combines retro aesthetics with modern world building, and leaves you coming back for seconds.
In this side-scrolling platformer, you play as the titular character Shovel Knight, who has lost his beloved companion, Shield Knight, in the Tower of Fate. Before he can save Shield Knight however, Shovel Knight must defeat The Order of No Quarter. Only then can Shovel Knight face his greatest enemy, the evil Enchantress.
Quick side note, shovels were historically used as weapons on the battlefield. Shovel Knight doesn’t seem that ridiculous now, does he? When you think about it, a shovel is the perfect weapon really. A deadly multipurpose tool that let’s you take down enemies, and dispose of their bodies.
During Shovel Knight’s travels, he encounters the colorful residents of The Village, wandering travelers who love to propose challenges, and my personal favorite, the Troupple, a magical trout-apple creature that provides Shovel Knight with three powerful ichors.
Each realm you enter is a zany treat that supplies you with thematic enemies to slay, from exploding rats to propeller knights, so it would be wise to keep your shovel sharpened. Of course, picking up relics doesn’t hurt either, as they tend to make your life a little easier when confronting the level boss.
Although the game itself can be finished in a day, Shovel Knight is a rare gem in that it definitely has replay value. This is due, in large part, to a healthy supply of achievements and challenges, like finishing a level with less than twenty swings or completing the game in under 90 minutes.
Perhaps one of the best things about Shovel Knight is the staggering number of cheat codes. Not that I would ever consider cheating because I’m such an honest gamer, but by IGN’s count, there are at least 300 cheat codes that players can use (including the infamous Butt mode which never ceases to amuse me). As if that was not enough to slake a gamers thirst, Yacht Club has also announced that four player co-op and a gender swap mode are in the works.
A nod to the past and a tip of the hat to the future, Shovel Knight reinforces the notion that indie games are on the rise. If you recall the games promoted at GamesCon, a vast majority of them were indie games. AAA-games have had their day in the sun, but there are only so many times gamers are willing to shell out $60 for the same game. Yacht Club was able to take something old and familiar, and turned it into something new, in a very creative way. This is likely why gamers find Shovel Knight so appealing. Sure, we have the basic damsel in distress story-line in the beginning, but it’s the end of the game that changes things up. Shield Knight takes the lead in the final battle. Shovel Knight, not Shield Knight, is wounded by the evil Enchantress and must be rescued by the Black Knight. Ultimately, Shield Knight saves the kingdom thanks to the strength of her shield. Although Shield Knight only appears in a very small portion of the game, she does play a vital role, which is more than most AAA-games offer female characters.
The Order of No Quarter isn’t completely filled with villains either. While a few members were evil to the core and get their just desserts, others like the Tinker Knight, find a new purpose in life. Like many other indie games out there, Shovel Knight is able to fill in the holes left behind by major companies.
You can pick up Shovel Knight on Steam or in stores. So get digging. And never forget the code of Shovelry: Slash Mercilessly and Dig Tirelessly!