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Knytt Underground
Knytt Underground
Published by Mable
Author review
Average N/A%
Star Man Knytt Underground

The eventual flood of indie games onto the Wii U is just beginning to take shape, no longer are we seeing the occasional release from a small minority but a consistent flow of titles that cover every genre one could care to mention. In this new and increasing market place it definitely pays to have an edge in terms of the game play and visual style in an effort to get players interested. I would consider Knytt to be one of these titles out to sell itself on a tried and true formula but done with a little bit of extra flair.
The story is fairly basic and is actually a lose continuation of the prequel that first appeared on the PC a few years ago. In the original you played the alien Knytt who had to recover all the parts of his crashed space ship. It was a simple plot and one that is fairly identical in this iteration. Instead now you play a voice less character, Mi Sprocket and instead of collecting space ship parts you are out to ring six bellís but this only becomes apparent on the later part of the game.

The basics of the game play are wellÖ basic. I hate to bring up an overused term but this is a title very much in the vein of a Metroidvania style. You find yourself navigating a series of cave like areas to eventually solve a series of quest from NPCís that are littered throughout the environmental maze. Various different enemies and environmental hazards are to be discovered and punished by to add a significant challenge to your progress.
The difficulty curve on this title is handled exceptionally at first, it will give you situations that feel hopeless at first until you finally experiment enough to figure out the trick to the puzzles. It is paced wonderfully and for the most part you should be able to keep the progress moving forwards without too many issues Ė best comparison I can give would be the same pace that is present in Portal 2. Donít under estimate it however as some areas can be punishing Ė requiring some quick manoeuvres to get to the next screen.

As you discover new areas, previous areas open up additional routes to progress through. It is nothing new but executed with just a little bit of charm to make it feel unforced. Platforming from area to areas by wall jumping in the initial chapters, but this quickly change as you eventually make it to the third chapter. You gain the additional ability to morph into a ball at any time which provides a large amount of physics based challenges.
Having this extra layer unfortunately shows that there are elements of the game play lacking the refinement and polish that the rest of the title demonstrates. Switching between the two modes can lead to player confusion simply because of the speed required to execute some puzzles. To compound this issue, the game reveals its true scale. This is both a blessing and a curse as it does allow the player to get lost in a giant world but this also introduces large amounts of backtracking, such is the burden of adventure games.

This would actually a bigger detractor if it wasnít for the presentation on show, an entirely 2D affair but with its own unique style in all audio visual aspects -itís all kept very minimal intentionally to give it a very surreal feeling. There is no music or at least anything that it notable in a distracting manner but simple the background sounds of nature provide the majority of background tracks, running water and various winds and creatures provide the minimalist audio environment making it all familiar while simultaneously being alien to the player.
Visually the vast majority of this title is presented with a silhouette style, the foreground is entirely black with only the back ground and characters getting any colour to distinguish themselves. The backgrounds do an excellent job of creating additional atmosphere. Consisting mostly of nature based elements in a pastel palette Ė sublet animation of the elements that sway with the wind does a brilliant job of giving life to apart that could have been utterly dull and uninspiring. Personally I just kept exploring to see what more would be presented in the visuals department, the sense of discovery is imbued in every element on show.

The problem is that it can be both amazingly varied but also sterile and sometimes bland in parts. At times it really does feel as though the game has been padded out simply to show off the developers environmental artistic skills rather than being used to balance the environments.
When it comes to the characters graphics however I do have one minor gripe. In game play they look perfectly fine but in dialog with other characters, the higher resolution versions looks fairly cheap Ė yes this is a minor gripe but it does throw off the overall look just slightly, it is a shame that these elements could be to the same high calibre as the rest of the title. Some games everything just fits together perfectly so when an element of particularly lower yet still reasonable quality turns up it just looks out of place and that is really the only issue with the entire game.

This is a case of some many great ideas and elements coming into their own but with the occasional part not receiving the final polish. Does it ruin this games? Not by a long shot, itís not preferable but so much of the game from the atmosphere to the excellent game play despite the occasional handling issue canít put a dint in what is a wonderful title that I can recommend to most players.
The scale of the world combined with the sometimes over-baring special abilities do make this title a bit hard for some players but nothing entirely insurmountable. From as generic a manner I describe this game it is unique to anything else available in not only the eShop but in video gaming as a whole while being grounded in an entirely traditional game play system. Itís hard to explain but do give this a try.
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By Brandyn on 03-20-2014, 11:37 PM
Interesting art style. The indie scene has really taken off.
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By Alice on 03-21-2014, 02:17 PM
So this is basically Knytt Stories but made mainstream.
I'm okay with this, because Knytt Stories is f*cking amazing.
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