Title: Shovel Knight: Plague Of Shadows
Developer: Yacht Club Games
Publisher: Yacht Club Games
Release Date: September 17
Price: Free Update
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 3DS, PC
Shovel Knight has quickly become one of the most popular and beloved games of the last two years since its initial release. This is due mostly in part to its charming NES sprite art style and Mega Man/Mario inspired gameplay. It’s one of my all-time favorite games and now an all new free update has been released. This update entitled Plague Of Shadows sets a new standard for how free DLC should be developed for games in the future.
The best part of this new adventure is the fact that it is an entirely new game separate from vanilla Shovel Knight. This is not a simple pallet swap of Plague Knight for the main character of the original game. This is an entirely new experience for playing as Plague Knight. His abilities are quite different in that he utilizes different types of bombs to fight enemies and bosses. This completely changes how the game is made and some levels are even redesigned to accommodate his changes to gameplay.
An Alchemist’s Tale
The story involves Plague Knight trying to steal the essence of each member of The Order Of No Quarter. He plans to use these all to create “The Ultimate Potion” gaining him more power and fame. What’s great here is we get more characterization for one of the knights from the primary game. That swift and witty dialogue is at work again making every scene pop with Plague Knight on-screen. His journey to steal from others and also gain the love of his assistant Mora is very cute and well executed. His dialogue is filled to the brim with humor and witty comebacks to most everything said to him. One of my favorite scenes involves a fight with Shovel Knight that shows what it would be like if you defeated him instead of the other way around.
Another interesting tidbit is that some parts of the game are completely different as you’re playing as the villain now. The primary village of the main game is inaccessible as you’re seen as a menace. A few moments later you find yourself in an underground black market that serves as a place to buy and try out new bomb upgrades. You can also collect music sheets to give to Percy who will award you with gold and throw them to Oolong who plays the songs. This delighted me as I loved seeing how a villainous character would work differently from Shovel Knight. We also get a pretty good amount of insight into his character which was not as strong with Shovel Knight.
There’s also a humorous takeover of the original Armor Outpost that happens later on. These scenes along with others showing your path weaving in and out of Shovel Knight’s gives the game a fun and new feeling overall. Even though I’d visited this world once before it felt completely new for the most part.
Prepare Your Potions
Yet again gameplay is top-notch here yet again. Plague Knight uses bombs to attack and these can even be augmented and customized to your liking. There are three parts; the casing, fuse and the powder. Each piece changes how the bomb behaves drastically. This allows a pretty deep level of customization as you unlock and try out new set ups for your growing arsenal. You can also hold the attack button to use a bomb on yourself to fling your character in a direction. This simple change makes Plague Knight a hassle then eventually a dream to control. You can combine this ability with your double jump to reach new heights that would be impossible before.
You can also find the same relics from the primary game. Once found they’re denounced as junk by Plague Knight and can be sold to the amazing Chester the salesman to acquire Arcana magic attacks to use. These serve as the new abilities and relics for this game. They range from a summonable vat of goo to stand on mid-air to a smoke screen that once passed through allows our new hero to walk across spikes for a limited time. The number of health vials to add to your total health and overall magic bar size can be upgraded as well.
What truly baffles yet excites me about this DLC is that the innate challenge from the original game is not lost at all. On the contrary you’re actually challenged to relearn how the game works using the new character. Gone is the ability to bounce on enemies or other objects to make it across that huge chasm. Now you have to fling yourself over using a bomb and a bit of luck to make those precise moves.
Another thing that works here really well is the controls. It takes a bit of adjusting but once you get used to Plague Knight’s flighty control set up it’s an absolute blast and deep challenge to play as him. I beat the original game twice on the PS4 and 3Ds yet still had trouble with this campaign. This is the most fun and challenge I’ve had in a game in quite some time.
This is honestly one of the best add-ons for a game I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Yacht Club Games have truly found a way to strike a niche between the old school way of developing and utilizing new age ways of development as well. The base game was enough to cement this but Plague Of Shadows hones in on this even more. If you’re a fan of the original give it a shot. If not then become one and play the original and this! It’s great and this is an amazing addition to a true masterpiece.
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