Knightmare Tower Review -- Monsters, Rockets, and Hybrid Game Mechanics! Oh My!
You know, in hindsight, I really underestimated Knightmare Tower. I am truly sorry that I did. When I first loaded it up, it just looked like some weird mobile game I'd never heard of brought to PC. It genuinely still is weird after having beaten it, but it is far and above several games I've reviewed this year.
Round Table Control to Sir Major Tom...
You play a nameless knight aiming to win the favor of a king by saving his ten princesses. They are being held captive in a tower by what looks to be the physical embodiment of Rage Comics riding a giant mobile tower defense platform. You can't simply ascend the stairs though, as there are none. Only doorways exist to try to block your path. Defiantly, you ride on your rocket, breach the gates, and fight enemies in the air as you try to ascend higher and higher in the tower.
The story' ispretty limited beyond this point, save for a tongue-in-cheek ending. That's good though, because the true strength of this game is in how insanely addictive the gameplay is. Knightmare Tower combines ideas from Doodle Jump, Diablo, Jetpack Joyride, Dark Souls, bullet hell shooters, and even Zelda to produce one of the most refreshingly fast paced, skill-based yet approachable games I've played in 2014.
Unless you are extremely lucky, you won't be making it to the final boss fight in your first few rounds. Instead, the game gradually progresses as you learn how to fight enemies and get higher and higher. Every attempt lasts only a few minutes, with an achievement for beating the story mode in three minutes and thirty seconds or less (the current top time is under two minutes and thirty seconds). This means you get to continually try new ideas and keep on earning upgrade points as you progress. Even when I was earning experience for the final pieces I needed to max out my character, it was never an excessive grind.
Due to the non-traditional style of traversal, levels are represented by enemy types and the background art rather than traditional layouts. This is a huge plus to the game as it encourages different strengths to focus on. At first, speed and being able to limit your wind resistance to fly higher seems like the key goal along with boosting your health. Enemies that try to follow you as they line up shots requires you upgrade your speed and damage dealing to cut them down to size. The ever shifting line-up of new enemies presents a dynamic flow to combat while being consistent enough for you to plan ahead.
Once you get past the first few levels, you start getting into the hang of using lootable items from enemies to help even the playing field in tense moments. Hitting a bomb or using a potion at just the right moment can turn a near-death into a huge boost to your score. Every single element in the game has a purpose and reason for being there.
Princesses unlock new items you can loot. Luck increases percentage of gold you can find and the frequency of potions. Potions can turn the tide of battle and are actually critical for the final boss fight's one form of attack. The quest system encourages you to try new things and provides goals to aim for until you've played enough that it can let you take on the boss fight. After that you get the survival mode that keeps the challenge coming for even those who can speed run the main story. It all hits the right note and comes together in a cohesive design.
The only major complaint I have for the title is its length. Despite being fairly cheap on Steam, I had all but the two hardest achievements unlocked in under eight hours. The main point in the game's favor though is quality over quantity. Knightmare Tower doesn't try to out stay its welcome and knows exactly what it wants to be. The game paces itself so that it's brimming with content and constantly pulling out something new for you to enjoy. It could have been free to play, had in-app purchases, and drawn itself out over twenty hours, but then it wouldn't have been half the game it is now. The developer had the good sense to keep their ambitions in check while still being creative and fresh.
That also goes for the processing power. Due to this being a remake of their original Kongregate game, developer Juicy Beast has made a title that practically any person with a personal computer can play. Incredibly low minimum hardware requirements means that even if you have a machine that has hard time running Half-Life 2, you can still play it. It also is ported to Mac and Linux in addition to Windows. There is also controller support, although I reviewed my copy while playing with a keyboard.
Brave Brave Sir Rocket, Who Bravely Flew Away
Truly, other than just wanting MORE, I have very little to complain about. The game could stand to have a greater expanded soundtrack, as the current selection got on my nerves by the fifth hour due to repetition. Still it works perfectly fine as a game to play while listening to an audio book or podcast once you mute the music, so even then there's a pro to outweigh the con.
The only turn offs some players will have are the amount of twitch reflexes you'll need, and the sheer number of times you will die before beating the final boss. You have to be quick, tactful, and learn how to beat all your opponents over the first few hours. Once you do, it's a fast and sharp title that is refreshingly fun, but it takes just a grain of patience to see all the game has to offer.
Knightmare Tower is available on Steam for $3.99. Steam supports Windows, Mac, and Linux versions. It is also available on iOS 7.0 devices for $2.99 on iTunes.
(Disclaimer: This review was written based on impressions of a PC review copy sent to me by the game's developer. GameSkinny and its writers generate genuine, unbiased, and honest reviews regardless of how the review unit or product was acquired.)