What can I say about Black Knight Sword? When I first read details about it I was intrigued, a platformer with a strange yet oddly likeable art style which has come from the mind of famed developer Suda 51, on paper this looked really impressive so I made a mental note to get it as soon as I could!
As soon as the game starts the art style and presentation hits you, you are watching a paper play in a theatre. The whole game is set in a paper craft world framed by stage settings complete with a crowd and curtain to make the theatrical theme really hit home. So, already the game is very weird. Then you hit “Play Game”, the curtain opens, and you are shown a man hanging himself….yeahhhhh.
At which point you have to swing free from the noose. As you do, a spirit (and also a sword) called Hellebore revives you and turns you into a Knight in Black armour. This is where the games setting slowly changes from an apartment complex in the 80’s to a medieval environment and things get weirder.
The gameplay is akin to a creepy LittleBigPlanet, it is a very well crafted 2D platformer with puzzle elements and a narrator commenting on what is going on as the player progresses through the levels. This is actually the first real flaw with the game; there are only 5 levels in the whole thing with bosses scattered throughout each of them. The game seems to rely a bit on its difficulty to extend the game a little while as some bosses have stupid amounts of health and cause you to take a lot of damage.
You have your basic controls, a double jump, a basic attack which can be directed in any direction around the knight, magic that can be used to inflict massive damage up close or far away and the player can also throw Hellebore to activate blocks that can be jumped on and also activate certain controls in the game. The magic while being helpful should be best left to bosses as they do require a lot of punishment and most normal enemies die after a few precise slashes.
As you slash and jump your way across these levels with hellebore you can find a floating eyeball which will allow you to access a shop. Here you can purchase upgrades and buffs for your character using hearts that enemies drop when you kill them or when you smash open microwaves (yeah, microwaves. Don’t ask me why I don’t know) which range from an attack boost to increasing your maximum health but apart from this you are on your own and must rely on your platforming skills (think Megaman) to complete the game.
Honestly, you will die a lot in this game. It will drain you while playing, if you lose all your lives you must restart the level over all over again and that can get very frustrating but it never lasts. This is because the game is crafted so well, it is very much like Super Meat Boy in this way, VERY hard but fair, if you mess up it’s your fault or you were rushing. So when and if you eventually complete the game (With a boss that overstays its welcome and with a very….off ending) you feel a great sense of accomplishment. However, this is where it will end, unless you really want to show people the game for whatever reason, you most likely will not pick it up again.
The game sounds great, its medieval orchestral score fits perfectly into the bizarre world. This combined with a British commentator and pleasing sound effects makes this game really enjoyable to listen to but none of the tunes will stick in your head. If you are playing the game properly you won’t even notice the music in places as you will be concentrating so hard it will just pass you by.