Knight Squad is a good idea, but a game poorly executed.
Knight Squad is a game that has some good ideas at its foundation, but utterly fails to deliver an enjoyable, finished version of those ideas. The primary gameplay of Knight Squad is essentially classic Gauntlet with even squishier playable characters. Which is saying something since the characters in the Gauntlet arcade game were designed to die a lot to separate quarters from arcade patrons.
The game’s main menu starts on the four vs four multiplayer mode, which would probably be fun if any effort had been made to empower the players in any meaningful way. There are power-ups scattered across the game’s top down maps, but the fact that every character dies in one hit, unless carrying a shield which adds a second hit, means that the effects of those power-ups never last long enough to actually affect much. The fact that characters are so squishy wouldn’t be so bad if there were some other way to survive like a dodge, or dash, or even a movement speed that wasn’t painfully slow. The fact that there is virtually no respawn timer doesn’t really do much to make the game strategic or reward players for getting kills, as easy as it is to do so. This all adds up to gameplay that feels flailing and muddy.
There is a solo mode in Knight Squad consisting of a series of mostly terrible boss fights. Most fights consist of grabbing a power-up, the only one on the map usually, and using said power-up to fight a boss in an extremely scripted fashion. Again, if player characters were even a little survivable there might have been some fun here, but instead it’s just a slog of figure out fight, die constantly, finally execute what you figured out twenty deaths ago, on to the next fight.
The art design in Knight Squad is cartoony and somewhat uninspired. Even when there is a bit of flair to the art or animation, as in the post game scoreboards, it is let down by the fact that the in-game characters share none of the personality on display. For example, when the red knight, Storm, wins a match he levitates his sword and little bits of lightning shoot off it, but during the match he is just a pallet swap of every other player character. This would be a valid way to maintain multiplayer balance but the way death has virtually no meaningful impact makes any balancing efforts pointless.
In spite of these glaring faults there are some good aspects to Knight Squad. One of the boss fights is actually sort of interesting. The fight in question is against a multi-headed crystal monster. The beast alternates between firing off bullet-hell style projectile attacks and more focused attacks. The player must break open the crystal protecting the monster’s heads using a drill power-up then switch back to the sword power-up to kill the heads. It is the only part of the single player that is interesting at all.
While the multiplayer isn’t all that fun it is, at least, fully featured with a wide variety of modes. Some of these modes are actually interesting takes on standard multiplayer. Another welcome feature of the Knight Squad multiplayer is the inclusion of bots with adjustable difficulty.
A 2D top-down boss rush game with a bunch of cool multiplayer modes is a really good idea, but Knight Squad is not a good execution on that idea. The game misses the mark on several key aspects of gameplay creating a really unappealing mess of a game, even for $14.99.