"Funky Puppet Theater"
If I were to describe Black Knight Sword in a single word, it would be macabre. A platforming adventure game that is not for children or the faint of heart, this one is definitely different from games you played before. Weirdness is the main idea in this tale.
Starting with an audience waiting for the stage show to start, the first thing you see is the main character who commits suicide (See? Not for kids). After a few moments of hanging on the rope, your character falls to the ground and then resurrects when a blue glowing sword slides into his hands. Here is where you start to actually play as an ominous voice tells you how to move, and a tutorial that puts instructions in your path. These are helpful to learn the mechanics but distracting when they get in the way, which they do as you play.
The Black Knight Sword is a marionette without strings moving through a two dimensional side-scrolling puppet theater. The landscape slides in and out, changing as you advance in the game but never leaving the stage. Birds on sticks"fly" around, and the curtains obscure the edges of your view. Buildings, trees, bridges, things like that, move across the screen, some of which you can jump on, while others are just there for show. The real craziness is in the enemies. Walking heads are the main baddies you see as you progress, but some fly at you as well.
Occasionally, you will run into a bloated marionette, and in some areas wolves! All these enemies are killed with your sword as you swing and jump to avoid being hit. For the most part, it is not difficult to avoid these enemies, but some get you as you jump across gaps, and this can kill you if you are low enough on health.
Hitting an enemy in Black Knight Sword causes blood to gush out of it, all over the screen mind you, while releasing hearts. The hearts are the "currency" in the game, allowing you to purchase extra health, extra lives, and other specials that can make your sword do things to attack enemies without you getting too close. As if that weren’t strange enough, to use said currency for these upgrades you must slash a birdcage creature with legs to enter the area where a huge eye with several mouths on a wheel lives. Once you choose your upgrade, the hearts required to purchase it bounce along the floor into the mouth of that upgrade so that it can eat them before you get it. Did I say this was macabre?
Black Knight Sword's narrator stays with you the entire game and comments on things as you go. He has a British accent, though it sounds like someone trying too hard to actually sound so, when they aren’t. Unfortunately, you can only hear the narrator tell you to "Jump! Jump! Jump!" so many times before it becomes annoying and you want to turn it off. The audience also reminds you of their attention as they groan when you fail and cheer when you succeed. That, however, is not a problem, and most times I forgot there actually was an audience unless I did something spectacular, whether it was good or bad.
Unfortunately, the game becomes trite very quickly, as there isn’t much difference between the levels and your enemies. Some areas have you jump to heights to continue, while others add a little flavor, but it doesn’t last long, as you do the same thing repeatedly. It’s probably a good thing this game is only five levels long, or it would become downright unbearable.
Black Knight Sword has three difficulty levels with normal being closer to a hard level than one might think. Easy is the way to go if you actually want to beat the game, but even then it’s not truly easy on this setting. Perhaps that was what Suda 51 was hoping would make the game so interesting, that the harder the mode, the more frustrated the gamer would become and thus he/she would keep playing because they KNEW they could beat the level. If that’s the case, they failed miserably, because it just makes you want to stop playing altogether.
While Black Knight Sword is different in its presentation, it is disappointing in its execution (pun not intended). The ever-changing scenery and weird enemies only take the game so far. It makes you wonder if the extremely late release (originally slated for February 2012) was an attempt to make the game better. If so, Suda 51 should have put a little more thought into variety.
GameDynamo's Score for Black Knight Sword (PS3)
I have been gaming since I was in high school, before it was acceptable for a girl to do it. I have been a writer for even longer. It's only natural the two would combine. I prefer RPGs, action/adventure, and strategy games, but I also play dancing, sports titles, and shooters.
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