Can a game inspired by The Legend of Zelda maintain the charm, but in a different universe?
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All games have their issues, and A Knight's Quest is no different. However, none of the issues here are important enough to detract from the game. For example, repetitive Sound can be frustrating, but never detracted from the actual gameplay or the immersive nature of the Environment. For anyone who is a fan of the The Legend of Zelda franchise, this game is definitely worth trying out.
The Puzzles in the game are incredibly fun. They aren't so hard that they become frustrating, but they aren't so easy that you don't consider looking for a walkthrough. Most of the puzzles throughout the early part of the game feel like the training levels from Portal, which is the gold standard by which puzzle games should be measured. The only thing that would have made the puzzle system in A Knight's Quest perfect is if the game culminated in a more Portal style end puzzle. However, as the puzzles are not the only focus of the game, it is understandable that the game ends with a more game-appropriate game mechanic.
Unlike with other indie platformer titles, the Story directly drives the Gameplay. The game opens with Rusty, your character, splitting the world by activating a powerful stone, which finds its way into the sky. Your father, the mayor of the town, sends you and your friend to find a set of legendary heroes to help address the problem that you created. The various aspects of the game Environment are the homes to the heroes, which are represented by the atmospheres. As the game progresses, your friend continues to research both the problem that has been created and the legends about the heroes you are looking for. That information is a consistent driving factor for the next phase of the game.
In addition to the main story, there are side quests for your knight Rusty. Many of them are fairly grindy, like mining for ore to be paid very little (or nothing, in my case). The side quests can either be fun or tedious, depending on your style, but they can add some diversity to the game. For example, mining for minerals adds a different element to the game but isn't terribly fun.
The game plays as a fairly classic 3D platformer. It involves a lot of walking/running to explore the world, as well as to get from objective to objective. As you begin or achieve objectives, you receive new or updated equipment, skills, etc. Those new items or skills are usually directly related to the task at hand. For example, in the Forgotten Temple, you get a sword and shield that gives you the ability to create small tornados. Those tornados are used heavily in the puzzles that follow, they are often to spin posts to raise, lower, or rotate objects in your path.
The game also involves a decent amount of fighting. You encounter hostiles throughout the land, as you walk. The battles can be simple but can also involve more specialized moves. For example, some enemies are protected by a power shield of sorts, and you must use a complimentary power to disable it. Once again, in the Forgotten Temple and beyond, the tornados are used to disable these shields.
In addition to standard hostiles, there are also bosses. These bosses are significantly harder to beat, but not just because their health level is higher than the rest. The bosses require the use of your powers at the right time to create more critical hits. You might be able to beat them by just wailing on them for a long time. But using a power, like the tornados, will lower your damage and the amount of time required.
The User Interface of the game is above average, but not ideal. Most of the game elements are where you would expect. Health and mana are in the top left. Special functions are in the bottom left. Boss health is across the bottom. Inventory, maps, etc. are all within the player menu. All the standbys are as expected.
The map is one of the best and worst aspects of the UI for the game. On the positive, you can set a quest as primary and see details about it easily. It also makes it easier to find, as it is highlighted differently than the other available quests. However, navigating the map with a controller (which would be the primary interface, as it is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch, in addition to PC) is clumsy. Setting a quest as primary is not always effective and can be difficult if quests are close to one another. Also, the primary quest is a separately interactable element on the map from the actual quest behind it.
The game adds a compass, which is a nice feature. It shows you where actions are and can point you in the general direction of your primary quest. However, this can be a little hit or miss. More than once, I had to change my quest and change it back for the compass to show it at all. This was particularly problematic when relaunching the game with a quest already started.
The Environment is an expansive world with a variety of different unique atmospheres. There is a port, a small town complete with a blacksmith, a quarry, a rock environment, and more. Each area represents a different aspect of the Story, as each of the heroes resides in, and represents, a different aspect of the world. Some of the environments feel a little forced, but most feel authentic and natural. The forced ones tend to be the more intermediary areas, which are not supposed to be inviting, but instead, are designed to push you on to your next endeavor.
The Graphics in the game are of very high quality. While the character design is a little cartoony, it is very purposeful and well implemented. No elements of the game (character or Environment) have rough, clunky, or fuzzy edges. Whether in low light or high visibility areas, interactable elements are easily distinguishable from background elements. Most importantly, the game's Graphics consistently create a genuine and consistent world.
There are three primary aspects to the Sound design for A Knight's Quest: music, effects, and voice acting. The music certainly has its ups and downs. On the positive side, it is almost always beautiful. It matches the environment you're in, lends the correct energy to the task at hand, and helps to immerse you into the game. Unfortunately, it isn't all harmonious, as the music can become repetitive and grating if you are in an area for too long. For example, if you are having trouble with a puzzle, you might get to the point where you want to mute the game entirely. Don't, though, as you might miss something important. Repetitive music isn't a new problem in gaming, however - almost all games with a puzzle element have suffered from it.
The sound effects in the game are high quality, appropriate to the events, and somehow funny. Nothing ever sounds garbled or distorted, whether it's digital or human-produced. It would appear that a lot of time and care went into the creation of the sound effect pack, with consideration for every interaction. Like the music, however, the effects can get repetitive - especially when it's an action that occurs frequently. Sure, there are several hard landing sounds, but you're going to jump and bounce a lot (mostly because it's a lot of fun), and the "oomph" sounds start repeating quickly. Again, this is not a new phenomenon in gaming and is not a game or mood killer.
The voice acting is my favorite aspect of the game's sound design. The characters speak, but they don't use words. Instead, they do something between mumbling and Simlish (the language from The Sims). The voices are fantastic and manage to convey the attitude and personality of the character but they do not convey the information. And somehow, through all of this, the characters create humor without words. Bravo.
The Level-Up System is pretty standard fare. As you accomplish goals or complete Story elements, you get new abilities and rankings. As your rank improves, so does your collection of capabilities. For example, you can store more items in your inventory, which is a huge annoyance early in the game. But, generally speaking, the process of improving rank is far less important to the gameplay than the progression of the Story. If you follow through all the story points, you will receive the things you need to continue to the next one.