[Review] Knight Squad – Nintendo Switch

Written by Mel Curtis
  • Developer: Chainsawesome Games
  • Publisher: Chainsawesome Games
  • Release date: 5/6/2020
  • Price: $14.99
  • Review code provided by Chainsawesome Games

Introducing: Knight Squad Switch Review

When it comes to things like mini-game collections and party games, the Switch has very quickly become my go-to console. The ability to turn one controller into two has been perhaps the biggest boon in the favor of the Switch for these types of games, which makes it very easy for me to get people on board with playing them, even if they are not normally huge gamers in the first place. That’s why I was excited to snap up Knight Squad, in the hopes that I might have found some sort of hidden gem for my collection of games like this. 

To Arms!

I’m sad to say that was not entirely the case here, even though the game really is trying. There’s a lot of different modes to play in. Most of them are some sort of a last-man-standing death battle with a variety of different twists to keep things fun and fresh while you’re playing. Beyond that, though, there are other party modes like capture the flag or soccer if you’re less interested in combat, but even in these you are able to kill the other players in order to get them off the field temporarily.

It’s a hectic series of games, and while I do like hectic party games, that wasn’t the case here. There are different knights to play as, but as everything is done form a top-down perspective and they are fairly small on the screen, they can be a little on the harder side to tell apart at times, meaning it’s easy to lose track of your character. Add in the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off the CPU, meaning your players might have control of only two characters of eight, and you get the feeling that the game is playing itself.

Nock…. Draw…

In fact, the game can play itself! There is an entire mode option on the main menu that is dedicated to just having the bots of the game play a versus match for your decided upon time. It really eludes me as to why this is here and why it gets such top billing in the game. It’s not mentioned on the eShop page or on their website, but yet it is an early option in the rotating menu. I don’t speak for everyone, but most people would either like to play a game or watch someone they like play a game, not just watch bots. Maybe this is for the sports betters among us?

Perhaps the most frustrating element is that no matter what mode you are in, everyone dies in one hit. While this does make for short and fun rounds, when you are unable to turn off the bot players, it can feel pretty unfair and leave you cleaning up the rest after taking out your friends, or sitting and watching a match of bots play out because you and your friends went down early. Aiming is also difficult as the only way to aim is to point at the enemy, which means running directly at them. As a result, ranged weapons are not the most favored here.

Loose!

It is possible to play this game single player if you really want to, but I never had the inclination to as it’s just rather bland when you don’t have someone else elbowing you because you managed to take them out. I can imagine this would make for some interesting play if you could get eight people playing all at once, but that will take a lot of Joy-Con that not everyone has access to. I can tell that some of these modes want to have the same hectic energy as Super Smash Bros, but the game just isn’t hitting the mark.

The challenge modes don’t hold much interest either. They have to be unlocked by beating the previous mode, which can take a lot of tries because you still die in one hit here and there are no extra lives, so it can take a while to finally get it when you have to restart from the beginning every time you slip up. With the somewhat clunky movement of the knights, it took me a long time to get things unlocked, and when I did, I never found myself excited by the next mode. I was mostly just bored, which is a real shame.

Armor polish

I think the visuals are one of the things that contribute to a lot of problems with the game. The top-down perspective was a good choice and the art that they have of each of the knights on the selection screens is very cute. However, the knights can be hard to tell apart when playing due to how small they are on the screen. It’s easier in the free-for-all modes where everyone is a different color, but in the team based modes, it’s easy to mix members of a team up as everyone is given a matching color and the arrows over heads are a bit small. I looked away from myself in soccer and completely lost my character for a few moments, having to run in circles to get my bearings of which one I was again.

The sound is really nothing impressive either, and I found myself playing most of the challenge modes muted as I wasn’t interested in hearing the same thing over and over again while I was banging my head against one of the modes that I was having trouble defeating. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was actively bad, but I was never wowed.

Grab Your Whetstone

There isn’t that much difference between being in handheld mode or on the TV, but I would say that tabletop mode is pretty difficult to play with. The knights on the screen are already pretty small and while in handheld you can get your face a little closer to the screen in order to compensate, when playing tabletop you do have to make space for the other person to be able to see as well, taking the issue of the already  hard to distinguish characters and just making that worse. There is definitely little chance you would be able to play more than two people around it and still be able to tell what is going on. 

There’s also the issue of online play. I’ve searched around in the game and from what I can tell there is no option to do any local wireless play or online play. I hopped on my computer to double check this and found that the game is also available on Steam, where there is the ability to do online play with other people that own the game. Depending on what you value and if you still have an interest in this game, you might prefer to go that route.

Marching Home

Overall, I don’t think there are more than a few things about Knight Squad that I would call actively bad. But what I am left with beyond that failed to engage me, leaving an overall poor impression. That’s a shame too, because I can see where a good game could have been built on this foundation, but for now, that’s just not the case.

Pros

  • The knight designs are distinct, colorful, and fun
  • Good variety in game modes

Cons

  • Characters become hard to tell apart while playing
  • Characters are too small on the screen
  • Inclusion of unneeded bot-only mode
  • Lacks engagement

Verdict

Despite being hectic and having a lot of content, Knight Squad fails to impress when it comes to keeping things fun for the player.

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