Sunday, 21 July 2013

Knytt Underground Review

Knytt Underground is an exploration platformer. You play as Mi, a young lady who has gone spelunking. There have been two previous games in the Knytt series. However, you do not need to have played them to enjoy exploring the vast caverns in Knytt Underground. Packed with quests, puzzles and a whopping 1,800 rooms can Knytt Underground dig its way to gaming glory?

Let’s start with story. I have no idea what is going on it Knytt Underground. I go and find some fairies. Do some quests, including finding candlesticks along the way. All while enjoying a lush underground environment and highly enjoyable and responsive platforming. So what if this isn't a game with a winning storyline. It is a game about exploring a complex area of caves and enjoying an adventure to discover what is in the next room. What it boils down it is a Metroidvania game without all that pesky combat. You can simply enjoy exploring for explorations sake.

Knytt Underground has some of the smoothest and most responsive platforming I have encountered in a long time. Usually precision jumping is out of the question, instead just end up diving headlong towards your goal and hoping for the best. Not Knytt Underground. Along with graceful jumps, Mi can also climb up most straight surfaces. This is an important element of the game as without her ability to climb, you would not get very far. There is a rudimentary tutorial that introduces some of Knytt Undergrounds features, but not all of them. Throughout your adventure you will come across these glowing orbs. Each of these gives Mi a specific power-up. These range from turning Mi into a little orb so you can fly across an area or makes and explosion to help you jump higher. No matter what the power-up is, it really changes up the gameplay and shapes Knytt Underground into a unique and unpredictable game.

Graphically Knytt Underground looks great. The environments are wonder, if a little dark at times, but then what did I expect from a game set in a series of caves. Using the various power-up looks as great as it feels to use them. Although the character models are a little shaky, they are a null point since your main focus is the massive scope of the game and its hundreds of rooms to explore.

Unfortunately Kyntt Underground does have some poor qualities. The quest system is just a basic delivery job. Find A and bring it to B. However, you do get to enjoy all of Knytt Underground's other features during each quest. The other bit about quests that could use improvement are the rewards. Now, I am not being greedy or anything, but after collect several random items for a stranger I usually expect something shiny out of the deal. In Knytt Underground all you get is the satisfaction of a job well done and to be able to access a new area. So it can feel you aren’t really progressing even when you are. Now we come to the issue of save points. Why are they so well hidden and infrequent? It isn’t like you need to make sure you don’t die, because all dying does is respawn you back where you were previously. So I don’t understand why the save points are not just a bit more often, it makes playing the game for shorter periods of time difficult – this is something that could be improved upon to expand the potential market for this game. Nifflas Games if you are reading please make some change to this. You need to have more frequent save points, otherwise you end up like me wandering around in search of one for the better part of 20 minutes and that’s no good. 

Backtracking is another element that could have been reduced. While there are a lot of rooms, it seems there are a lot of wasted rooms. There a great deal of rooms with very little in and it seems that the game could have exploited this and had more plaforming elements.  However, there are enough rooms to challenge your skills.

On the whole Knytt Underground is a brilliant exploration platformer with a fantasic physics engine. However, it could be improved by having more frequent and less hidden save points and a more rewarding quest system. These somewhat minor complaints are overshadowed by a well crafted plaformer and highly enjoyable game.

Gameplay – 5/5
Graphics – 4/5
Enjoyability – 4/5
Story – 2/5
Overall – 4/5

General Information

Game Name - Knytt Underground
Developer - Nifflas' Games
Genre - Platformer, Adventure