When it comes to games, I think it’s easiest for us to describe a game by comparing it to another game or series. It’s easier to do than explaining the premise or mechanics; it provides a useful shorthand that allows someone to picture what the game is like or get the gist. However, comparing games doesn’t work that well, because while games can share surface-level similarities, even games in the same genre can have a surprising amount of variety. So when I first saw A Knight’s Quest described as ‘Zelda-like’, that definitely shaped a lot of my expectations about what to expect. I think for the sake of A Knight’s Quest it’s good to state from the outset that comparing it to Zelda gives it some pretty big shoes to fill. For one, it’s an indie game. More importantly, it definitely does its own thing.
Now from the start, A Knight’s Quest gets points for being a 3D game. I can count the number of 3D indies on one hand (in fact, I can only think of hat in time and yooka laylee off the top of my head), so that alone gets it a few points. Perhaps more ambitiously, A Knight’s Quest goes for the open world genre. In reality, the ‘open world’ feels a bit too open. A lot of the map is inaccessible, and it doesn’t feel like there’s much there. You definitely don’t get a sense of scale. There are enemy encounters and some small platforming puzzles, but that’s really the long and short of it. Platforming is probably one major way that A Knight’s Quest differs from Zelda. You have to chain together wall-running and quick reflex jumps in many levels, and getting around often feels like the intense parkour from Assassin’s Creed or Shadow of War. Zelda has definitely gotten more mobile with later interactions, but it’s nowhere near as dynamic as A Knight’s Quest
The other way A Knight’s Quest differs from Zelda is in its overall tone. The game’s story is basically a light-hearted tale about a goofy but well-meaning knight named Rusty who has to save the world after he messed up and unleashed a massive danger. The game is pretty clearly inspired by Zelda, and there are fairly obvious attempts to parody, poke fun at, or otherwise reference elements of the Zelda series. It’s indie game 101: riff on classic games while making fun of their clichés. But besides a few chuckles, the game’s story is, in a word, inconsequential. It follows a pretty familiar adventure pattern, and it’s kinda cute, but for the most part none of the characters really pop. Rusty himself is a bit endearing but mostly annoying. Thankfully, the story kind of takes a back seat, so it’s not in your face.
When we focus on the gameplay, things aren’t much better. In a word, A Knight’s Quest doesn’t feel very challenging. The game’s designers don’t really take too many risks, so you end up with a bit of a by-the-numbers adventure. The meat and bones of it is that you get new abilities that are unlocked as you fight different spirits, like wind, fire, etc. It’s a bit of a Mega man type system, and it’s a good idea overall. Now while on paper it has the potential to go places, many of the environmental puzzles you solve with these abilities aren’t too tricky. Some are very well-designed (especially in the late game), but many feel uninspired.
That’s not to say that A Knight’s Quest is a bad game; it’s more of a flawed one. The weak combat really did the most to take the game’s enjoyment down a notch for me. It just doesn’t have any oomph. But it takes some of the best ideas of Zelda and it manages to implement them reasonably well. The whole idea of exploring the open world area to know where to go next is actually well done, and it felt like they took a page out of Link to The Past’s book.
There are real glimmers of genius in A Knight’s Quest, but I think they don’t show up often enough. Still, it’s the kind of game you can’t hate on discount.
A Knight’s Quest was reviewed using a Nintendo Switch digital code of the game provided by Curve Digital. The game was previously released on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in digital store releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published (click here for more information about our review policy).
• Cute humor
• Dynamic movement and parkour
• Well-designed overworld
• Weak combat
• Some parts of the map feel empty