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Knytt Underground Review – Charming Adventures

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Nifflas Games, spearheaded by the creative talents of Nicklas Nygren, brings us Knytt Underground. My interview with Nygren can be found here, as we discussed many aspects of the game itself previously. This is the largest project and it combines elements from previous Knytt games, as well as the popular Within a Deep Forest. The game takes place in a world where humans have all but destroyed the earth in a massive war of the past and have since moved underground to live with other creatures.

The player controls Mi, a sprite that lives underground but is complete mute. I don’t mean that your character just doesn’t verbally speak, I mean that she is literally mute. After progressing through the game, you discover two fairies that assists you in communicating with others, you discover many different types of special abilities and take on various different quests within the world.

Knytt Underground is a 2D sidescroller with a very vivid and striking art style. The game primarily consists of dark colors for the foreground and areas of the environment that you interact with, while also utilizing bright and vibrant colors and designs for the background. This effect makes all of the different areas wonderful to look at and the smooth and fluid gameplay looks great whether you are playing on a large television on your PS3 or on the smaller Vita screen. Thankfully the game is both a cross-buy and cross-save title, allowing you to easily play on either system no matter the circumstance.

Generally the game is a basic platformer that allows you to climb up vertical walls, discover various powers and access many hidden areas. It reminds me of a much more stylized and less action-focused Metroid in some ways, with the heavy emphasis on exploration. Knytt Underground is also a much more cerebral experience than a lot of people may expect, as much of the game is spent wandering around the world and discovering all that it has to offer. There is a map in the game that shows which rooms you have visited, you pick up items in the environment and there are a few NPCs to converse with, but for the most part the game feels extremely detached and lonely.

This is both the biggest weakness and the biggest strength for me. I love the atmosphere of the game and the art style compliments it extremely well. However, it feels like the world could have benefited from a bit more structure and direction. The tale is very ambiguous (especially at the very start) so it can be a little daunting to not really have any clear sense of direction or purpose, other than looking around. With that being said, the game plays great and it’s a real treat to look at.

Different powers exist in the game such as the ability to morph into energy bursts that travel horizontally, vertically or explode for a large jump boost, as well as the power to transform into a bouncing ball form. All of these mechanics are slowly brought into the game and by the end, puzzles and rooms get quite complex as they require you to juggle between the different abilities with tight precision.

At the end of the day, I found myself playing Knytt Underground and I enjoyed looking at the different environments they created and getting lost in the world. At the same time though, I also found myself wishing there was a bit more structure to the game, especially near the beginning. While I enjoyed exploring the world, I often felt lost and alone.

Pros:

  • Wonderful and unique art-style
  • Fun gameplay and puzzles

Cons:

  • Lack of direction
  • The world often feels too empty

Final Grade: C+

This review was primarily conducted on a PlayStation Vita version of the game provided by Sony.

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