One Knight, Two Knight, Three Knight, Four Knight…

One of the greater questions posed by Shovel Knight is, how far can you truly go with a Shovel as your trusted weapon? Putting aside game mechanics and a simple item animation swap, the shovel is what keeps this fantasy world from collapsing. The thought of a knight in shiny metal armor rescuing a fair maiden […]

One of the greater questions posed by Shovel Knight is, how far can you truly go with a Shovel as your trusted weapon? Putting aside game mechanics and a simple item animation swap, the shovel is what keeps this fantasy world from collapsing. The thought of a knight in shiny metal armor rescuing a fair maiden is a commonly reused medieval trope. This game challenges this trope by really pushing a duo rather than woman needing assistance. What is more interesting is that we never see Shovel Knight’s true identity, his armor is dull and not in a shiny metallic color and he is not revered by mostly everyone. He is just a common warrior with a shovel looking for his love interest.

Spoilers

Spoilers

When Shield Knight is finally revealed she comes to the aid of Shovel Knight. The battle with The Enchantress requires synchronization with Shield Knight’s attack pattern which is not as easy as it seemed. Shield Knight turns out to not be a damsel in distress but rather a lost comrade who is really powerful and ends up saving Shovel Knight? (the ending is rather confusing).

This fantasy world is heavily built on medievalism. The Village and the various domains that are inhabited by the Order of No Quarter are all created with bricks and straw and even the mechanical “Clockwork Tower” is perfect for the technology of that time. Actually, flying ships and large robots are not technology of the medieval era, but combined with potions, dragons and magic they are all part of medieval fantasy. Ursula LeGuin writes fantasy is “a game played for very high stakes…an alternative technique for apprehending and coping with existence… surrealistic…a heightening of reality…nearer to mysticism…and those who go there should not feel too safe.” [1] The amount of deaths that were tallied up in the gameplay were high due to the uniqueness of the game’s enemies and mechanics. The constant use of ominous sequences, mystic and dreamy environments, and key soundtrack, ultimately secured the rare quality of reimagining the medieval fantasy world.  

1. David M. Sandner, Fantastic Literature: A Critical Reader (Praeger: Santa Barbara, 2004), 145.

Can you see yourself within the shovel?

The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the […]

The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the shovel. This is apparent in Pridemoor Keep when Shovel Knight has to maintain a downward shovel attack and jump over countdown spell books. Once the spell book is opened, it opens various others that form a path and once time runs out, Shovel Knight falls into a pit. Recovering, treasures in these situations is really difficult. In The Lich Yard, as well as in the battle with Specter Knight, the lightning in the background is a sign of ensuing darkness which requires the player to memorize where there are void pits and enemies. Ghosts and frogs are really tricky in these situations.  

This connects with Jamie Madigan’s points of “completeness of sensory information” and “cognitively demanding environments” which she uses as a meter of immersion. [1] The more abstract a game is the less immersive a game becomes. In regards to cognitive demanding environments, when the field including Shovel Knight becomes a silhouette, except for ghosts and dim candles/fires, the level has more of an ominous and haunted vibe due to the fact that the player is immersed in the darkness. The Village area is an example of completeness where the NPCs (non-playable characters) add to the immersion as each one provides a humorous quote or a distinctly different feature (examples in my other post).

The final point Madigan raises about “game characteristics leading to spatial presence”, is “a strong and interesting narrative, plot, or story will suck you in.” [2] What is unique about the this game is that the Order of No Quarter is a complete mystery, and so far much has not been said about The Enchantress, as well as the damsel in distress is a knight whose power is about equal or possibly greater than Shovel Knight. The sleep sequences make it feel as if though Shield Knight is dead.

Do it. In the dark.

Do it. In the dark.

1.Jamie Madigan, “The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games,” http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/, (July 27,2010).
2.Ibid.

That’s No Weapon. That’s a Shovel!

The quest begins the Shovel Knight’s backstory. Shovel knight and Shield Knight are both partners who were separated after confronting The Enchantress. Shield Knight disappeared and Shovel Knight is on a quest to find her because he believes that Shield Knight is still alive. A shovel is the main weapon in this game, which is […]

The quest begins the Shovel Knight’s backstory. Shovel knight and Shield Knight are both partners who were separated after confronting The Enchantress. Shield Knight disappeared and Shovel Knight is on a quest to find her because he believes that Shield Knight is still alive. A shovel is the main weapon in this game, which is a unique concept. The shovel is actually not that bad of a weapon. Shovel Knight can jump and aim the shovel downward to perform an aerial attack.The Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter have taken over the land and established separate domains. This game is largely based on medieval fantasy. All currency is referred to as gold regardless if it is a diamond that was picked up. Save points light up when reached and are a crystal ball upon a stand. Upon death, Shovel Knight’s collected treasures sprout wings and float in the exact death location for recollection. A dragon appears! Shoveling walls can unlock secret places that include new treasures. This can also lead to alternative routes. Relics are located on the bottom screen and can be used for added boosts.

Black Knight is a lonely hater of Shovel Knight who doubts Shovel Knight’s power in comparison to The Enchantress. He has an attack in which he jumps in the air and drop straight down with his shovel/lance such as Riku’s “Dark Break” in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA). Once defeated Black Knight runs away. The dream sequence is beautiful! The song choice really drives the emotion only to then wake up after catching Shield Knight. A bard collects music sheets and provides a side quest of collecting all the sheets. He compensates Shovel Knight by rewarding gold. He can perform any music sheet which a nice feature since the soundtrack is extensive. My favorite interaction is with the hedge farmer who asks the player to shovel dirt: “You really are the Shovel Knight!”

Riku's Dark Break. (linked image)

Riku’s Dark Break.

 

Shovel Knight’s Shovel Drop.