This game hates me. I know it hates me. It wants me to die. Over, and over, and over. So why do I suffer? Why am I still going?
That is the eternal question.
Many thanks to Diplodocus Games for the review code.
I WANNA BE THE TRYE
The easiest way to portray this game is to imagine an alternate universe where Super Mario 64 was made by From Software instead of Nintendo. It’s not a perfect comparison, considering the difficulty found in their games usually stem from combat, but it paints a nice picture.
In reality. it plays a little more like the Kaizo genre of games. Anyone who has played classics such as I Wanna Be The Guy, Mighty Jill Off, or the Kaizo Mario games may have a fair idea of what they’re in for here. This is platforming ramped up to the max. It’s unforgiving, brutal, but ultimately fair. An unfairly difficult game is no fun, but one where you learn from your mistakes in order to proceed further proves far more satisfying. Thankfully Knight’s Try is one of the latter.
Playing as one of the Knights of Trye, your goal is to overcome the difficult tasks that lie ahead. After entering what looks like Peach’s Castle crossed with the Temple of Time, you’ll find yourself in a giant room with an ominous purple portal in the middle. Defaulting at Knight difficulty, which grants you infinite lives to see your trial through, you can adjust it as you see fit. The higher difficulty, Arch Knight, gives you a limited number of lives at each checkpoint to make it to the next; Squire, on the other hand, will unlock checkpoints as you reach them – this allows you to jump straight to where you left off next time you start up the game. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Anything higher than Squire difficulty will require you to beat the game in a single sitting. I recommend playing on Squire if you wish to preserve your sanity; however, going for those higher difficulties will earn you unlockable goodies so there’s some reason to return.
KNIGHT GUYS FINISH LAST
The game plays out as one long journey, intersected with nine checkpoints that you can trigger. These are interspersed relatively regularly, ensuring you don’t have to replay too much every time you die, but also always feel a little bit too far away compared to what you’d like. Each section feels like a mini stage, as they tend to both introduce new concepts and expand on older ones. In the first area, you can expect to navigate some simple platforms as well as avoid obstacles like scythes and pushing blocks. It’s challenging, but doable. But then in the second area, you have to navigate multiple of these all whilst staying on a moving platform. Later on, you’ll have lasers, cannons, disappearing platforms – it’s heart pounding stuff, and the looping Clair de Lune only really adds to the tension as it slowly melts into your brain. Despite how difficult things may seem, it never feels impossible – no matter how many times you die.
And that’s the real beauty of the game. You’ll die a lot, and you’ll get pissed off a lot, but then you make some progress and the previous stuff now seems so easy that you can run through it. And then you’ll die some more until you make even more progress. It handles the difficulty perfectly, and it very rarely seems like your fault… at least most of the time. Whilst the game never throws in things that appear from nowhere, it does suffer from 64 bit jank from time to time. In particular, there were moments where the wonky collision resulted in me getting stuck on something or getting knocked off something, causing a frustrating death. It never happened very often, but it was annoying as hell when it did. Thankfully those moments were infrequent, but that didn’t make me feel any better at the time.
The controls as aforementioned work perfectly well. You move, you jump, and you can even sit down if you fancy a quick rest for whatever reason. It’s simplicity is its strength; jumps are predictable as there’s only one height, and the character’s speed feels slow enough to be able to take care, but fast enough not to feel sluggish. Everything runs at a smooth frame rate too, with no noticeable drops. This comes at a cost of the draw distance, which is relatively far, but you will still see towers and castles pop into view as you get closer to them. It’s not a dealbreaker, and I think the framerate was the far more important thing to take care of. The graphics do look great though for the most part, emulating the graphics of the N64 perfectly and applying a Dark Souls-ian Medieval aesthetic throughout whilst still throwing in enough visual variety for it not to become tiresome by the end. There’s the occasional texture that doesn’t quite work, such as the wind tunnels or the cannon explosions, but those tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
Knight’s Try is a punishing game. Intentionally so. However, it captures the feel of an N64 title, whilst having super tight – yet super simple – controls that help you navigate the treacherous platforming. It’s not perfect and the game can screw you over occasionally with some wonky collision, but it’s an exhilarating experience. If you are into the type of game that likes to metaphorically kick you in the balls repeatedly, you should adore it.