In Black Knight Sword, you star as the Black Knight--a protagonist that ended his own life by hanging only to be brought back by having his soul attached to a massive suit of armor. The Black Knight now finds himself in the middle of a feud between two princess sisters, and it will be your job to control the knight as he battles through the game with the ultimate goal of killing the most evil White Princess. Black Knight Sword doesn't thrust its story upon the player, and allows nearly instant access to the platforming and 2D combat familiar to anyone who has played a recent Castlevania title or even Summer's Dust: An Elysian Tail earlier this year. However, you will find that Black Knight Sword's storyline will ultimately pay off in the end, and a New Game+ feature allows you to play through the game once again to unlock the ultimate ending that offers a fitting end for this retelling of a classic tale.
Black Knight Sword will beat you up and make you thank it for the beating. The game presents a challenge even on the easiest difficulty setting. Typically, the challenge will come from the game's design, and rarely will your demise come from the game simply being unfair. As you progress through the game however, dying in some of the most challenging of repetitive sections can frustrate even the most level headed gamers among us. Still, there is plenty of great fun to be had with the game as you slash away at your foes up close or fire Helleborne spirit attacks from a distance. You'll also find plenty of challenging platforming sections that will require you to perform pixel perfect jumps or quickly dash out of the way of incoming attacks. The action is paced nicely and offers up fun moments that can easily be considered mini-games as you battle enemies as a fire-breathing chicken and more. The classic gameplay presents a nice foundation for the bizarre stage the game is set upon, and three distinct game modes will have you playing long after you've completed the game for the second time.
With all of that said, Black Knight Sword's charm and the ultimate reason many gamers will pick up the game is the excellent presentation. The entire game plays out on a stage with a reactive crowd following the action and offering cheers and boos based on how well you're doing in the game. The stage continues to change as you progress through the game with enemies, surroundings and supporting characters that can offer you new abilities, upgrades and weapons in exchange for special hearts and other items you've collected through your journey. The entire game is narrated by an omnipotent character that adds another unique flavor to the unique creation Suda 51 has cooked up. The graphics of the game are fine, and the blood and gore is kicked up to a whole new level for those who like their games violent. For only 10 bucks, you won't find a better deal on a game that offers so many unique traits and plenty of fun gameplay, and during the slowest month of the year for game releases, it's nice to see another great new title players can easily pick up and play. Black Knight Sword isn't perfect, and it can be terribly frustrating and challenging at the same time, but its weird charm and addictive gameplay overcome most minor gripes that come with the overall package. Make this holiday season bizarre with Black Knight Sword!
Black Knight Sword is now available for PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade and can be purchased for $9.99 or 800 Microsoft Points respectively. Black Knight Sword is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore & Intense Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Black Knight Sword website.
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platforms: PlayStation Network & Xbox LIVE Arcade (reviewed)
Release Date: December 12, 2012