There was a time when every week brought some sort of new 3D platform adventure. These ranged from mascot brawlers to cute little puzzle platformers. Recently we’ve had a mini resurgence and the quality of this has been all over the place. Monkey King: Hero is Back was a fun time, Yooka Laylee had some great moments but unfortunately games like Eekeemoo tried to ruin the fun for everyone else. Sky9 Game’s A Knight’s Quest is a clear throwback to the golden generation of those titles, back when Ocarina of Time pretty much invented a genre. Does it emulate Ocarina’s glory or does it totally miss the mark?
You play as Rusty, an incredibly clumsy and pretty silly kid with a charming desire to explore and adventure. Rusty’s unrivaled curiosity is what makes him a character who is pretty easy for the player to relate to. He’s cute and really likable, you want him to do well. The story helps this as within ten minutes of playing Rusty has already made a horrifying mistake which could potentially doom the entire world. It means we’re automatically on board with the protagonist’s journey as we were part of it from the very beginning. Rusty’s desire to correct his mistake is endearing and really makes you feel as if you’re coming along for the ride.
That ride will take you to a plethora of intriguing areas as you seek out dungeons which are more than a throwback to the classic Zelda formula. You’ll be introduced to new mechanics (the ice hammer is the highlight) and have to solve puzzles as you make your way to the objective. There is frustration on occasion due to the controls just not feeling tight enough when moving or fighting but on a whole the inventiveness of the areas really does manage to balance out the awkward character movement.
There’s plenty of progression here which keeps things fresh as you play. You’ll unlock new equipment and abilities which allow you to reach new areas. The ability to wield magic and learn new moves ensures combat never fully stagnates and like all good adventure games you’ll do a healthy chunk of backtracking. As you play you’ll spot things and know that you’ll have to return eventually when you unlock the next big gameplay modifying ability.
Action is the other big part of the game alongside adventure. We know the exploration and puzzling is fun, but is the movement? Yes and no. The platforming is surprisingly great. It’s a really nice addition that works well and is only let down by occasionally unresponsive controls. The challenges that you unlock throughout the game (do them all at the end) are genuinely fun and add a good amount of extra content after you clear the game’s story. There are plenty of hidden secrets in the game’s environment for those who want to explore and take a break from progressing through the story.
Then there’s combat which really is a mixed bag here. The weapons all feel different and the abilities are always a nice little change but you will get frustrated regularly. It doesn’t really feel like you’re actually hitting enemies, most of the time you’re just hitting buttons and waiting on them to go down. There isn’t a proper collision system and that means there’s no satisfaction whatsoever to cutting through enemies. Luckily the bosses are an entirely different story. They are total highlights that require on the spot problem solving in order to conquer. It’s an absolute blast to have to work out how to take down these special creatures before actually pulling it off.
The art design here is really special. It is immediately reminiscent of Breath of the Wild. It isn’t derivative at all though, if anything it’s a beautiful little homage. There’s so much colour in the uber varied environments and this makes them incredibly welcoming. You’ll want t go and see everything. The town is the epicentre of the game, you’ll spend loads of time here before venturing outwards and it never gets boring. The world has all the standard fare you’d expect from fantasy games, like lava and forestry, but it just looks so lush that you’ll love seeing it.
There are a few issues. Sky9 have actually done a great job patching most of the bugs out here but the controls can still be annoying, as can the lack of voice acting considering how cute the world is. The character’s faces just do not suit the art style at all and are really off putting. With these exceptions though in general the game’s performance is good. You’ll plod along enjoying the beautiful dungeons and soothing music and even appreciate some of the more detailed character models.