Black Knight Sword Review


Player(s): 1
Extra Features: Leaderboards

Black Knight Sword is a side-scrolling platformer co-developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality. The game is available for $9.99 on the PS Store or 800 points on the Xbox LIVE marketplace. Playing Black Knight Sword is like playing through a twisted fairy tale from a storybook. The game looks like it all takes place on a theater stage. The curtains open and close before each stage begins and the surrounding screen looks much like viewing a theater stage. Black Knight Sword's story is simple enough, much like a bedtime story, although twisted.

The story is narrated as the gameplay unfolds. The story is about a princess that is both beautiful and cruel. A sword spirit that lives in the kingdom wants to do away with the princess, so it summons the black knight to hunt down and kill the princess. And thus the story begins with the player taking control of the black knight to hunt down the princess. Each stage of the game is much like a separate story that is similar to old children's stories, but, again, twisted.

The backgrounds of the game constantly change while moving and jumping through each stage. The art style for the game makes everything on the screen look much like paper stage props. Every enemy has limited animation to make them look like they are put together with paper. Background objects such as cat that walking across a fence will look like a drawn stage prop pulled across the stage. The music and sound effects are very fitting. This game has some wacky sound effects that sound like they came from an old Scooby-Doo cartoon. The stage tracks fit well and some are very memorable like the forest stage that has some slight vocals in its music. The narrator's voice is perfect as well - he has slight dark tone like Vincent Price to his voice.

The basic gameplay is much like any side scrolling platformer, but the style makes the game much more appealing. While playing as the black knight, you can jump and slash through waves of enemies. The black knight has a few moves that we have seen in other platformers such as a backward dodge and the ever-popular double jump. The black knight's sword can help him out by turning into a spirit known as "Black Hellebore" and then the spirit can interact with objects such as blocks to activate them so the black knight can stand on them. The Black Hellebore is shot directly in front of the black knight and he loses his sword temporarily while spirit it sent out - he can't attack at that time.

The black knight receives extra moves as each stage is completed. He will gain extra moves such as a charged slice and an upward slice among other extra moves. A shop is available for players to upgrade and replenish life throughout each stage. A player can upgrade the black knight's total life amount or buy extra lives or some extra armor. Items from shops are bought with hearts collected from enemies. Each stage has a few secret areas with collectibles that can be picked up. There are microwaves full of extra health pickups and extra lives that are hidden throughout a stage. There are also items known as "cat head grass" that are hidden throughout a stage and can be collected and viewed from the main menu.

The game has three modes of difficulty - easy, normal and hard. I'd highly advise starting out on easy mode since Black Knight Sword can get quite tough. The black knight only starts with 2 extra lives. Enemies are often easy to defeat with basic slashes, but some enemies get much tougher by shooting out projectiles and some enemies move quickly and jump. The game is full of violence while hacking and slashing through enemies. Each slash will cause a geyser of blood to spray out of the body of the enemy.

Black Knight Sword has some great boss fights. The bosses are big and unique. Each boss has a certain method to kill it that is not always so obvious. Some bosses require you to dodge an attack then hack and slash at the boss while it recovers and some are incredibly huge and require you to dodge projectiles while hacking at certain body parts. There is one boss fight that actually leads into a very memorable shooter stage. The game has some slight variety from the platforming in the form of some slight shooting and puzzle solving, but Black Knight Sword is a faithful platformer at its core.

Black Knight Sword is five stages long and it will take around five hours in one sitting to complete the game on one difficulty setting. The game has an arcade mode and a challenge mode. The arcade mode is a very tough mode where a player battles through a stage for a high score. The challenge mode has a list of challenges that can help a player learn extra techniques for the main game. Both of the extra modes can get extremely hard.

The overall game can get quite hard depending on the difficulty it is played on. The platforming can get just as tough as a Mega Man game where you have to jump on very tiny blocks to avoid falling into a deathtrap below in the game's later stages. Even with all the frustration that I faced at times, Black Knight Sword is a very addicting game. I actually wanted to go back and replay some stages after I was finished the first time. The overall style of the game is a sight to behold while playing it. It is truly a work of art.

The only flaws with Black Knight Sword that I found was some trouble controlling the Black Hellebore and the fact that the main story is very short. The Black Hellebore object is not accurate and sometimes you really need it to be accurate, like during a certain boss fight, which can lead to a frustrating battle. As already mentioned, a player can beat this game in about 4-5 hours easily. It's so easy to beat the game in one sitting on easy mode, but you will most likely want to go back through the game's other difficulties after completion. This is easily a type of game where you'll want to get everything before quitting it. Black Knight Sword is short but sweet and definitely unique with its look.

The Good:
+ Beautiful graphics and overall appearance
+ Addicting gameplay
+ Very fitting music and sound effects

The Bad:
- Black Hellebore is sometimes hard to aim
- The overall story mode to the game is very short

Final Rating: 79%. Black Knight Sword is quite an enjoyable and unique platformer that is worth a try - it's short but memorable.