Genre: Action, Party
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows & macOS)
Developer|Publisher: 2nd Studio
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E 10+
Price: US $14.99 | UK £12.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: June 3rd, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to 2nd Studio.
KnightOut is a 2D action party game with tower defence elements. As a brave knight, you’re tasked with protecting the king from the oncoming horde of baddies. To do this you’ll build a castle and set up some defences which you can control. If all else fails though, you have your trusty sword.
It has all the ingredients for an enjoyable game-night game to play with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s heavily let down by various problems on Nintendo Switch which make it hard to recommend in its current state.
The game presents three modes. The arcade mode essentially acts like a horde mode. Build your castle, set your defences and take down the hordes wave by wave. Collect the gold from the fallen enemies and use this to repair or upgrade between the waves. Chase the highest score you can alone or with a loved one. When building you have various blocks available to build your structure. Wood is cheap to buy but weak and vulnerable to fire, whereas steel is expensive but more secure. Floor traps can be placed to catch foot soldiers and various ranged weapons can be planted across the castle but need controlling manually.
Story Mode and More
Story mode allows you to take on bite-sized missions similar to arcade mode, level by level, this can also be enjoyed in co-op. Occasionally you will partake in some platform levels which mix things up. Upon completion, you get the usual mobile style rating out of three, but the developers did break the norm here and opted to go for cupcakes instead of stars. Cupcakes seem a tad out of place for the fantasy setting but at least it’s different. The story mode also introduces a new castle defence piece by piece rather than giving you everything at once like an arcade mode.
Lastly, the main event is the competitive multiplayer mode which can be played with up to four players locally. Here, each team creates a castle at opposite ends of the screen and the goal is to take out the opposing team’s king, by any means necessary. This proved to be quite a bit of fun provided you have a good bunch of folk to share the experience with. You can spend time just destroying each other’s castle or heading out on foot to storm it. All these modes feel like a pretty good game to at least enjoy in co-op but the problems soon set in when you start playing.
Swords and Cannons
When it comes to controls, the character movement and attacks felt floaty. It didn’t feel like my sword blows connected with enemies. I get that it’s probably supposed to be used as a last resort but it could still pack a meaningful punch. Jumping feels unnatural making the platform levels more of a drag in story mode. Controlling defences is generally quite fun with a variety of ballista’s to place and experiment with. With a cannon, you approach it and hold a face button to charge and release. When you nail a shot with a flying enemy it’s very satisfying. Other weapons include crossbows, a giant catapult and a slime-like weapon to slow enemies down. All play a function but I often stuck with the cannons which felt most useful.
KnightsOut begins with a pretty brief tutorial which only really scratches the surface of the game mechanics. You’re essentially taught the basic controls for character movement and attack. When it comes to building towers you’re just shown how to create a tower and place a defence. For some gamers, this might work just fine. You will experiment with builds and defences and find handy features like damaging enemies by bouncing on their head Mario style. But for more casual gamers it would have been handy to add a little more depth or possibly show some templates to get started with the experience particularly if you’re playing with loved ones (or enemies) when jumping into the multiplayer mode. Pay close attention to loading screens as this provides very useful tips on gameplay.
A Struggling Performance
Graphics are blocky and a tad rough around the edges, and characters and enemies have a comic and light-hearted feel to them giving the game a family-friendly vibe. This is all fine but the art style doesn’t really pop as much as it could in the fantasy setting. There were moments where the knight would make an expression which I could not tell if it was a smile or something else. It made the enemy orcs look much more attractive in contrast. But the real issue is the awful performance on the Nintendo Switch. When a level fills with enemies, the graphical quality dips further making everything blurry and out of focus. When firing the cannons from the castle the game would often slow down making playing quite jarring. I was even brought to mild motion sickness when the screen would just shake for what seemed like no reason. Strangely, performance in competitive multiplayer seemed ok.
But it’s not just performance; the game is littered with bugs. There were moments in levels where the cannon shots got blocked by an invisible wall rendering them useless. Sometimes waves would just end, even though enemies were still attacking. There were even levels which didn’t even render correctly. But what ultimately stopped me from playing was the regular hard crashes to the Switch dashboard. KnightOut just feels like it was not ready to be released in its current state.
KnightOut has a really great concept for an enjoyable party game but I can’t recommend it in its current state. With all three modes combined together, this could make for an enjoyable package, that’s best played in co-op or competitive multiplayer. Messy controls, terrible performance and glitches galore just make this an uncomfortable experience to play. I noticed the game is on PC so maybe that version does function better. I hope the day will come when KnightOut will be polished up with extensive patches. Because I see a fun game under all these issues. It’s just not there yet.
Final Verdict: I Don’t Know