Shovel Knight

Screenshot: a small medieval village in a pixellated style. The titular character, Shovel Knight, stands among a slew of idle NPCs.

First Impressions

Shovel Knight is a 2D side scrolling platformer featuring a blue armored knight wielding a shovel as a weapon aptly named Shovel Knight. The game features retro music and graphics reminiscent of classic games like Super Mario World or Kirby Super Star. The game is set in medieval fantasy times and features elements common to this theme such as slimes, dragons, castles, and villages.

You play as Shovel Knight, who aims to save the land from the vile Enchantress and her “Order of No Quarter”. A shovel is your primary weapon, allowing you to deal damage to enemies and break destructible terrain. The goal of each stage is to traverse the level from left to right, jumping over or attacking enemies and obstacles in your way. The appeal of the game seems to be the nostalgic 8-bit style and gameplay similar to that of old Metroid or Castlevania games. Aside from that, the game seems solid in its platformer gameplay and level design.


Going Further

Moving further into the game, I found greater levels of depth with the game mechanics. The game introduces "relic" items, which can be equipped to provide a new combat mechanic. Relics I found include a wand that shot fireballs and a charm that made my character temporarily invulnerable. These items, while not absolutely necessary, were nice bonuses that made boss fights easier. For example, the Specter Knight boss's haphazard movements and spinning scythe made for a difficult encounter. But with the use of the invulnerability charm, I was able to dodge incoming attacks when I incorrectly predicted the boss's attack pattern, making the fight much more manageable.

This brings me to the next topic of interest: the boss fights. The encounters and battle mechanics were creative and interesting. Bosses' attacks and tactics were thematically relevant, which added a lot of character to each boss. Without this, the basic dialogue presented at each encounter is fairly bland.

For example, the King Knight boss's dialogue made him seem arrogant and cocky, but this character is made more memorable through his movements and attacks, which involve aggressive charges, jumping around, and trumpet fanfare from the sides of the screen. These mechanics not only helped to develop the character, but also made the fight interesting. In the 3 hours I spent playing the game, I made it up to the Mole Knight boss. Although there seems to be quite a bit more that I have yet to play, Shovel Knight so far is a creative platformer game with interesting mechanics and memorable characters.

- Brady T.