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A delightful parody of Zelda and pretty much everything else.
Reviewers, myself included, have a habit of describing design via comparison. As I started playing A Knight’s Quest, my mind instantly tried to make connections. I saw dungeons that clearly owed inspiration to Zelda. I saw a continuous world design that brought to mind Dark Souls. And I saw platforming that brought me back to classic 3D Mario. As I found more and more points of comparison, I was left thinking of A Knight’s Quest as simply an adventure game.
A Knight’s Quest is just that: an epic and expansive quest. Things open with our hero already inside a dungeon, where he finds a strange figure encased in a purple crystal. Suddenly, the crystal begins lifting into the air and our hero is ejected to the world below. When he awakens, he finds his village full of people debating the best way to “kill the crystal.” The writing in A Knight’s Quest is absolutely outstanding. Every character perfectly parodies Zelda archetypes. The mayor encourages you to seek out a group of legendary warriors who he refers to as a “forceful triad,” on obvious play on Zelda’s Triforce. Random villagers let slip moments of existential crisis. A rock creature speaks at length about stone being more emotionally stable than water. I have never taken so many screenshots of dialogue boxes and laughed this much while reviewing a game. A Knight’s Quest is that perfect sort of parody that is itself an excellent entry within the genre it seeks to make fun of. What is a bit more difficult is identifying what exactly that genre is.
After opening in a fairly linear dungeon environment and taking you through a scripted cutscene, A Knight’s Quest quickly opens up a wild world to explore. While you’re always given a quest with a waypoint, you’re free to go where you want, provided you have the platforming skills and abilities to get there. The layout of the overworld is unique in that it offers constant challenges in the form of 3D platforming. Many of the environments sport extreme verticality. Getting to a waypoint isn’t simply a question of walking there, but rather jumping, climbing, and wall running through these environments. This is where A Knight’s Quest is at its best, when it presents a world that is not just visually interesting but a constant gameplay challenge.
The primary quest line ultimately leads to dungeons. Dungeons combine 3D platforming, puzzle solving, and combat. It is the latter of these that presents the greatest weakness in design. On the surface, combat is straight forward. Enemies can be targeted with the L button, attacked with Y, and countered with the A button. Unfortunately combat just doesn’t work as well as it should. There is no weight or feedback to your attacks. Enemies suffer no knockback so they can attack you while actively taking damage. There is no specific block button, and instead blocking is done automatically while targeting an enemy, but it doesn’t seem to work consistently. Eventually, magical abilities are added to your weapon, and additional weapons with their own abilities become available later on. Each of these abilities is functional both in combat and puzzle solving. The first ability you earn is a whirlwind that can spin certain mechanisms and stun enemies. As you gain more abilities and weapons, combat gets a little easier to deal with, but this ultimately comes down to having more ranged options rather than functionality actually improving. While I regularly enjoyed my time with A Knight’s Quest, I dreaded the more combat heavy sections.
I did also encounter some issues with progression tracking in one dungeon. Upon dying, I reloaded the dungeon to find some puzzles were reset despite the fact that most of the effects of solving them were still in effect. This fed into a general issue of glitchiness throughout my time with A Knight’s Quest. I ran into multiple instances of getting caught in geometry or falling through small gaps in floor meshes. While it was never game breaking, it was hard to ignore.
Once back outside of the dungeons, the abilities you’ve gained can allow you to reach new areas. One early upgrade allows you to grind on railings throughout the environment. Add 3D Sonic the Hedgehog to the list of comparisons I made earlier. Another ability allows you to freeze jets of water to create platforms. With every new item or ability, I’d find myself venturing out into the overworld to reach areas I had to pass earlier. The sheer size of the world means that there are an untold number of secrets to be discovered. I absolutely love exploring the world of A Knight’s Quest, and I was amazed by how immediately it drew me in.
A Knight’s Quest is a fantastic adventure game that feels unlike anything else I’ve played. It is incredibly ambitious and succeeds in so many ways. Unfortunately, its blemishes can be hard to ignore. While the combat is sloppy, it can ultimately be adapted to. Regular collision issues and finding dungeons in a semi-glitched state, however, are both hard to look past. When you combine these technical issues with the combat system, you’re left with a substantial flaw. Just beyond that though is an amazing game. Dungeon, platforming, and world design are all exceptional. On top of that, the writing constantly had me chuckling to myself. There is an incredible amount of charm and character to A Knight’s Quest. I’d strongly encourage anyone who thinks they can get past the technical and combat issues to give A Knight’s Quest a try. While those issues are substantial and may turn some off, there is an amazing game resting just below the surface.