Review: Shovel Knight Dig

Dig dig dig from early morning till night

shovel knight I may never die, and I’d be totally fine with that! The franchise, born in 2014 with the original entry, created a cottage industry for Yacht Club Games, which has incorporated the series into multiple projects and has spawned something of an empire. while we wait The Huecadora Mine to get there, there is more shovel knight coming your way this month.

Shovel Knight Excavation, a roguelite platformer, is the latest attempt to mix things up. Fortunately, it is very close to the spirit of the original game.

Shovel Knight Excavation (iOS [Apple Arcade]personal computer [reviewed]nintendo switch)
Developer: Nitrome, Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release: September 23, 2022
MSRP: $24.99

cleverly, Shovel Knight Excavation it fits nicely into the lore as a theoretical side story. From the facts of Dig they start when Drill Knight steals your stuff at a campsite (between any given level at the main entrance), simultaneously explains why Shovel Knight has to start over with no powers, and answers when that might happen. None of this really matters like Dig it’s a standalone project, but it’s nice to see a bit of continuity here, including returning bits and pieces (like models and character designs) that worked in the past. “Nostalgia for shovel knight” is a strange concept, but it’s been eight years after all.

Weather Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon was a bigger departure for the series, Dig It mostly maintains the platforming angle of the first inning with a new twist. Your job is to get to the bottom of the titular “dig” and put an end to Drill Knight’s antics. To do that, you’ll explore “stages” (with fixed themes and three distinct parts per stage), accompanied by randomly generated layouts. “Roguelite” really rings true here, as you get some holdover items, and there’s a way to unlock/purchase shortcuts so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

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After only one race, the spirit of Shovel Knight Excavation it became crystal clear. He is addictive, and he has that. speleologist-well-intentioned design rationale where if an execution goes wrong, it is usually your fault. From there, you’ll regroup, reevaluate, and strategize to keep going a little further, a little better, until you reach the apex (or, in this case, the bottom). Each race will be very different, but there is a consistent framework.

There are three gears to collect in each section, which provide bonuses at the end of that same section before moving on to a new level. Most of your accumulated gems (the main currency of the game) are saved after a failed execution, allowing you to buy a small selection of permanent improvements in the central area (such as additional slots to carry items or armor that can change your style). of game) . You will continue in this loop until you reach the end. Interestingly, the hub will slowly build up over time and add more NPCs and shops (including some fun in-universe cameos). You can opt for daily (limited to once per day) or weekly (unlimited attempts) races and check out the global leaderboards.

You also have some degree of control over your career. Shops periodically offer temporary upgrades/relics that can provide minor bonuses like extra max health or higher jumps. At the end of each section, there’s usually a two-way forking path to delve into, with vague signs serving as warnings or guides as to what the next part entails (such as the abundance of a certain type of enemy). If you collected all three gears in that section, you can also fully heal either get a random upgrade. One gear provides additional gems and two gears will reward you with gems or a small healing item. Getting the trio of gear in each section consistently is really satisfying, like you’ve earned your little treat. It’s a clever way to add more control to the usually chaotic genre.

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All of this also makes for an interesting push/pull meta and push your luck. If you spend your entire run taking damage, you might be able to fully recover (provided you’ve earned the right to do so), but you’d miss out on further buffs which, in turn, might prevent you from getting hit as much. Some team placements are cowardly and force you to make snap decisions that may offer only a small window of opportunity to snatch them away. The more you play, the more you’ll pick up on these little tricks and subvert them. You can’t spend an eternity and a day trying to make the perfect jump to get a gem, piece of gear, or an item – if you take too long, a one-hit drill will start, trying to slowly take you out.

Those shortcuts I mentioned help alleviate a lot of frustration about gender inequality, but it’s still there. On some runs, I’ve noticed repeated layouts (albeit with different item/enemy locations), and there are select maps that are outright easier than others (same goes for random shop items). I also have a bone to pick with some enemies that are off screen and zoom into your hitbox. It can lead to a kind of cheapening in which some executions are more successful than others through no fault of their own. But again, this is where the rigidity of platforming comes into play, as you can directly counter a lot of what Shovel Knight Excavation throws you through raw skill and knowledge of the game.

The theme of each area also convinced me to continue with the game in a marathon way. Now, some will probably be defended over others, but the distinct music options and variety of enemies for all themes are top notch. I can remember all the nuances of each area in my head even after a few runs, which adds to the freshness Shovel Knight Excavation It’s try after try.

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Review: Shovel Knight Dig 3

In the same way, bosses feel direct as shovel knight bosses The enemies, even when compressed into smaller levels and oriented vertically, seem deliberately placed. Even with some of the irritation and anger that comes with the territory, I found myself hitting the “another run” button constantly. It’s very easy to get into a groove where you’re just going to run after run, and since the gems are stored, you don’t feel like you’re losing anything massive after death. Optional accessibility toggles (additional health, more food, more gems, additional attack power, and game speed reduction) help fix some personal issues.

Shovel Knight Excavation manages to marry many of the best parts of the roguelite genre with the quirks of the shovel knight series, and I really enjoyed my time with it. Due to the charm involved and the intuitive nature of many of the puzzles and layouts in it, I can see myself returning periodically to start a new career, probably discovering new things along the way.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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