You Dropped A Bomb On Me
Last week, I finally got around to playing Shovel Knight. I wanted to be ready for Yacht Club Games’ release of their first Shovel Knight DLC patch Plague of Shadows. When Shovel Knight was funded on Kickstarter, the game surpassed its initial funding goal of $75,000 many times over, finishing their campaign with over $300,000. The Plague of Shadows expansion DLC delivers several of the developer’s kickstarter stretch goals. If you’ve read my Shovel Knight review, you know I really dug the base game. Shovel Knight experience was so tightly wound, so polished, so close to perfection. It goes without saying I had high expectations for this DLC patch. Yacht Club Games was more than up to the task.
One of the stretch goals that was funded for Shovel Knight was the ability to play as three of the game’s villains. In Plague of Shadows the player takes control of Plague Knight, one such villain from Shovel Knight’s band of baddies, The Order of No Quarter. Original, it was the developer’s plan to make these bonus characters little more than a model swap. However, at some point they changed their mind. Plague Knight plays absolutely nothing like Shovel Knight. Plague Knight’s gameplay design is informed by his character design. He is an alchemist, and crazy to boot. Likewise, his movement is wild and erratic. He has a double jump and a charge attack that flings him into the air. For combat, he eschews swinging a shovel and instead hurls bombs at his enemies. His bombs and charged blast can be upgraded with several different variants, offering different projectile arcs, explosion patterns, and super jump properties. The character feels radically different thanks to all of these changes, and that’s a great thing.
The story of the main game campaign is changed up when you select Plague Knight as your hero. Instead of Shovel Knight’s quest to redeem his fallen partner Shield Knight, you pursue a more pedestrian mission of acquiring reagents from the games bosses in order to concoct a potion of immense power. The supporting characters in Plague Knight’s quest are gorgeously animated and injected with unique personality through the cheeky dialogue. I won’t give anything away, but it’s cute touches like what happens at the end of Plague Knight’s own level that really make this game heart-warming.
Plague of Shadows also adds Challenge Modes to Shovel Knight. Another kickstarter stretch goal, challenge modes offer the player succinct chunks of 2-D platforming goodness. These vary from jump challenges to survival gauntlets. The content isn’t as mind-blowingly rich as the new character campaign, but it’s a welcome addition none-the-less.
With Plague of Shadows, Yacht Club Games has proven their dedication to quality twice over. This expansion meets expectations and more. What could have been little more-or-less than a model swap turned out to be an immersive, fully fleshed out gaming experience that stands on its own two feet. Over the course of the last two weeks, I have become a Yacht Club Games fanboy, and I eagerly await the next playable character for Shovel Knight. No matter which Knight decides to follow Plague Knight’s lead, I’m sure it will be the bomb…
I’ll see myself out.