I’m a big fan of Suda 51 (the CEO of Grasshopper Manufacture and director/creative director of some of their most well-known games). Killer7 blew me away, and I’ve loved every game he’s touched since. When I saw that his name was attached to Black Knight Sword, I downloaded it without hesitation. What I got was unfortunately my least favorite Suda 51 game. Here’s why:
The basic premise is solid. Take Suda 51’s bizarre quirkiness and stuff it into an action-platformer. And the basic mechanics are definitely there. The platforming is solid. The combat is decent. It has the template for building a deep, satisfying gaming experience. But it doesn’t...
My biggest gripe is that the game doesn’t offer anything really compelling or exciting. Sure, it’s entertaining, but it doesn’t present anything beyond the bare basics, so there’s virtually no incentive for replaying the game after you’ve gone through it once, aside from just doing it faster or on harder difficulty settings.
And that’s the most damning problem. It’s kinda fun, but nothing about it stands out. The story is also pretty short (it took me about 3 hours to run through it once I knew what I was doing), and the mundane mechanics make the extra game modes totally unappealing.
Sadly, there are a couple other noticeable flaws. First, the game’s difficulty curve seems totally screwy. I found the final boss to be exponentially harder than anything else the game had to offer (which is definitely not to say that the rest of the game is easy, because it's not - particularly on higher difficulty settings). You might be into that kind of thing, but I found it terribly off-putting.
Second, the story is nearly unintelligibly schizophrenic. Suda 51’s games usually have convoluted plots, but there are normally complex threads that you can follow with some attention and thought. I may just be thinking about the game in all the wrong ways, but this one feels like a string of disjointed cutscenes with no real purpose.
With that said, there are a few things that Black Knight Sword does really well. The overall atmosphere is fantastic. Gorgeously detailed backdrops and delightfully creepy enemies lead to a wonderful visual presentation, and the music and sound effects accentuate that atmosphere beautifully.
Also, for all my complaints about the game’s story, it does have one surprisingly visceral scene. It’s not quite enough to make up for the disconnected craziness, but it is pretty sweet.
When the dust settles, you’re left with an acceptable action-platformer. It’s nothing too exciting, and the storyline seems weird for weird’s sake, but it’s a beautiful game, and it’s fun, at least the first time around.