The kind-hearted yet goofy would-be adventurer Rusty, son of the local mayor, just so happens to accidentally kick-off events that will bring about the end of the world. In A Knight's Quest, Rusty must venture forth throughout the colorful, fantastical, and stylized world of Regalia in search of the three fabled Spirit Knights. It becomes quite apparent from the start that this quest will be anything but straight forward, as you interact with those that live across the land, performing menial tasks to pass the time.
With the decision to use a bright and colorful visual style, this action-adventure-RPG was inspired by The Legend of Zelda and Metroid franchises. There are plenty of unique areas to explore; however, I wouldn't say that the game employs a true open-world, as each area requires a (sometimes lengthy) loading screen. Sky 9 Games, a Toronto-based studio, initially planned to fund their first big PC and console project thanks to Kickstarter but canceled it after teaming up with Curve Digital. The light-hearted adventure attempts at being humorous throughout with Rusty's action/expressions, and the dialogue was written for each of the non-playable characters. However, I found that most of the "jokes" missed the mark. It is as if the developers were trying too hard in spots, and trying to force cheap humor tactics were none were needed. I rolled my eyes with almost every NPC I came across, flailed their arms around mid-conversation. Also, why doesn't it look like many people are wearing pants?
As aforementioned, the game features side quests that you'll acquire from talking to characters in the wilderness and the town areas. The very first quest you receive requires you to collect a cloak for someone by the name Jerry, who just so happens is in a porta potter and refuses to leave. Oh, and the quest name is Call of Doodie. I'll pause here for the laugh track. All of the game's dialogue is text-based, with characters making everything from generic noises to outlandish whooping noises as if wild animals possessed them. As you explore the overworld, where you will spend most of your time, you'll come across dungeons and plenty of platforming puzzles. These thematic dungeons, and tucked away in areas that require way too much ground to cover to reach. I understand the desire to try and flesh out the massive world, but it became tiring and repetitive to continually go through multiple areas for every little piece of a quest. This is especially true due to the confusing map system and lack of true mini-map. The compass system works to a degree; however, you may have to spend ample time just trying to get where you need to go. As you unlock special powers, you'll come across pathways in previous areas that are now accessible to you.
Although the platforming seems simplistic, there are times where you jumping needs to be extremely precise. Most of the puzzle solution revolves around jumping across floating platforms or pillars or using your wall-run ability to navigate across larger sections of the current area. The timed crystal challenge is reminiscent of the red coins in Mario titles, requiring precise movements to collect everything and earn your just treasure chest. The biggest issue with the sheer amount of ledge grabbing, rolling, and jumping in the game stems from Rusty's constant sound effects. Instead of hitting the mark, it always sounds like all the movement is just going to make him hurl. Hidden throughout the landscape are massive keys to collect as well as singing slimes that can unlock additional inventory slots.
The combat mechanics in the game are adequate; however, they aren't as smooth as they should have been. The starting weapon sets in the game are laughably weak, requiring you to wail on foes far too many times. The amount of hits it takes to take them down decreases as your sword is improved, but having the beginning portion of the game requires you to hit skeletons anywhere from 9-15 times. If the game's combat focus were one-on-one battles, that wouldn't be a concern; however, the game continually throws large groups of skeletons, slimes, and other foul creatures at once.
Throughout the first dungeon, you'll slowly be acclimated to new mechanics, from lock-on targeting, blocking, parrying, and more. Blocking and lock-on use the same button, so anytime you are targeting a specific enemy, you'll be ready to block basic attacks. Parrying requires you to be already targeting a foe, and perfectly time the button press right before you are hit. Even after hours, I'm still having trouble doing it consistently. Charge attacks can deal more damage, especially if you utilize your special power and unleash it with your attack. However, getting hit once breaks the charge, and you most likely will get hit during and immediately after your attack animation. If you can land consecutive hits without getting hit, your sword and shield glow with additional power.
The first special power you unlock gives you control over the wind. For exploration purposes, you can manipulate platforms or bridges by activating spinning fans. In terms of combat use, certain enemies have impenetrable barriers that can only be broken by using your magic powers or by parrying. Otherwise, your wind powers can very briefly stun foes, knocking them back slightly in the process. It was enjoyable to knock them into a campfire and watch their health chip away. Bosses are a bit more complicated, featuring different phases, with varying tactics. Rusty's health, which expands after defeating a boss, can be diminished by specific attacks; however, bandages can require your maximum health back to normal.
Sky 9 Games' first attempt at an epic adventure with A Knight's Quest doesn't quite hit the mark. I wouldn't call any of the game's mechanics or implementation broken, but things tend to feel uninspired. The light-hearted nature of the adventure is appreciated; however, the attempted humor in the narrative is more cringe-worthy than anything else.Note: A Knight's Quest was reviewed on Switch. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.