The day after the Knight before
With a deliberately provocative title like ‘Last Knight’, there’s absolutely no way I can’t take the bait and absolutely stuff this review with terrible puns like I’m going to stuff my Christmas turkey in a couple of days. You have been warned.
‘Last Knight’ is a 3D endless runner dressed up rather splendidly with a medieval theme where you play as a rookie knight. Viewed from behind your knight on a horse, you gallop your way past obstacles by jumping and dodging, as well as battling fantasy creatures and other knights using your jousting skills, ie what you’ve been doing to try and get your Christmas shopping done in time.
As your horsey does what horses do, you swipe or tilt left and right to avoid the blocks in your path, and swipe up to hurdle low walls and the like. You’ll also swipe down to lower your lance and knock the stuffing out of static targets and enemies. You don’t get paid for that by the way. That makes you, wait for it…a Free Lance Rider! Hahaha. Do you think I should go on tour?
It’s a fantastic looking game. Built using the Unreal Engine, the graphics are high quality and really pop off the screen. Both character models and scenery are colourful and detailed and the environments in particular deserve extra mention as they’re full of great shadow and lighting with some imaginative design which really makes them come alive.
Impressive physics are also on display. When you clatter into a wall or a low-lying branch, you don’t just fall over with a canned animation, your horse responds accurately to the mishap and gets realistically tangled in the scenery. Crashing can be just as fun as succeeding. Not advice to take on your driving test, mind you.
It’s also blessed with a great, jaunty fantasy score. An epic thing full of proper adventure that sounds like it comes straight from a high budget Disney movie. It’s also got a fully-fledged story mode where you have to save a Princess. Very Disney.
So what’s not to love? Well, two things. Possibly the worst combination of ‘things’ a videogame could have. Number one, the controls hang quite a bit, especially when using the swipe method. Since this is a game which relies on quick movement, unresponsive input is certainly not what you need. It’s not a horrendous lagfest, but in a game where the margin for error is so slim, it’s enough.
And that leads us quite nicely to the second thing. This game is punishing: you crash anywhere in the level, you start from the beginning , no continues. Some of the pathways are tough to navigate, and the camera seems to be deliberately placed to restrict your view – at times you don’t see what’s coming up until it’s too late.
But most frustrating is there’s often no room for error, and this quickly drags down the experience. A prime example is some of the tight walls you have to squeeze between; unless you position yourself in exactly the right place, you’ll see that great physics engine in work again, and again, and again…and again. I can understand why a developer would want to show it off, but this is just sadistic. After the 34th time, it won’t seem so great after all.
It’s a shame, because aside from that, this would’ve been a top-notch game. There’s only so many times you can hit your head against a wall before not wanting to hit your head against a wall anymore. Knight, night then.
Get on Twitter and spend the knight with Kevin @KevThePen. That’s KNIGHT, not NIGHT.