A few weeks ago, Nicalis quietly announced Knight Terrors, a game unlike most of their others, in that it isn't getting the physical release treatment and is instead exclusive to the eShop. It's also unlike other recent releases in that it's incredibly budget-friendly at a mere three dollars. So, is Nicalis's latest release worth a fistful of quarters? Let's find out.
Knight Terrors is essentially an endless runner. The titular knight runs with no input from the player. Enemies will appear both on land and in the air, and you must kill them to prevent your premature demise. In some game modes, hopping over enemies will suffice, but the main game requires you kill them, as letting three by you will net you a game over.
There are a total of five modes in Knight Terrors, though each one is a slightly different take on the endless runner formula. Normal mode has you dashing through levels as you kill enemies to fill up a score meter at the top of the screen. When the bar fills, one final kill will clear the level and reset the number of enemies that have passed you. Your knight can also take three hits before you lose, though your hearts don't refill at the end of each level.
The other modes include a Flappy Bird-like version in which you need to keep pushing the jump button to fly between obstacles while dealing with airborne enemies, a shmup-ish mode called K Type in which your knight throws knives while in flight and an endless mode which is just like normal mode, albeit without levels.
The visuals are intentionally crude, calling to mind 8-bit home computers like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC. Despite the basic nature of the graphics the character and enemy designs are surprisingly effective, and the music also fits the action quite nicely.
Levels are procedurally generated, meaning you won't experience the same layout of enemies or weapons twice. This method seems to have an impact on performance, however, as load times are quite lengthy. Each loss results in a lengthy sequence in which you watch your character die slowly and have your score counted up. This sequence is bookended by two loading screens, each of which lasts between five to ten seconds.
Despite this, we found ourselves chasing high scores. Knight Terrors is good at letting you know when you'll unlock your next mode or power up. The goals for each mode are listed on the title screen, and after each game, you'll be told what score you need to hit in any mode to unlock another power up, giving you the incentive to continue.
Every mode boils down to a bit more of the same, but the core gameplay is fun. The more you progress, the more intense it becomes. The monsters travel in set patterns, but can be grouped up in ways that will keep you on your toes. It's fun in that same sort of way that a compelling smartphone game might be, and has the price to match.
Knight Terrors is one of the cheapest games on the Switch, and it's a surprisingly good time. Hacking and slashing through ghosts, skulls and zombies is perfect for this time of the year, and even if the game is repetitive, it only costs a few dollars. The 8-bit visuals and sounds are fun and provide a great backdrop for an endless runner. If you're looking for a hidden eShop gem with a surprising amount of playability on a budget, this is a good call.