Despite having reviewed the running-genre game NinjaGo just a few weeks ago, I came across another “runner” that was just too good to pass up. WindUp Knight is a beautiful, entertaining, and in-depth action adventure side-scroller with addictive gameplay. This little gem comes from Robot Invader, a relatively new name in the world of iOS gaming but one that is definitely exceeding expectations with their medieval inspired running title.
I really like the graphics in this game. The developers managed to encompass a two-dimensional side-scrolling adventure with a three dimensional backdrop. The end result is a left-to-right game that feels like a fully rendered 3D environment. The 3D models (or everything that isn t the background) are well done. They were obviously meant to include a little bit of “cartoony-ness” so they don t necessarily have to have the same details that a more realistic art style would possess. There s quite a bit to look at when it comes to the environment and Robot Invader did a very good job of creating a visual experience that is both entertaining and functional. There are a wide variety of “stage types” here, with changing objects and backdrops, each with their own specific style. It s apparent that the graphics team put a lot of effort into creating an immersive visual experience. They could have just as easily hashed together the same objects into multiple levels, as most runners usually do.
The characters and effects look really good here too. Your main hero possesses the same charming qualities that powerhouse characters like Link and Mario have. The model for the knight is very well crafted and all of his jumping, running, and slashing animations flow smoothly. You even get a decent amount of enemy types as well, all with their own unique features and stances.
I love the attention to detail in this game, and it is definitely one of the better-looking games I have come across. However, if I had to point out one negative, it would be that the game actually looks TOO good. I noticed a decent amount of degradation and slowdown when I was playing it on the iPhone 4. The game operates flawlessly with the graphics hardware in the iPad HD, but those of you who are playing on a smartphone or older device may experience some slowing of movement.
The sound is solid, but it isn t anything mind blowing. The musical score for the first world has a small medieval flair about it but is mostly an action/adventure laced mix with whimsy. The music progresses in other “books/ but its pretty stock throughout.
It s nothing extravagant and, although noticeable, is not enough to really bother you or take away from the experience. Still, it would have been nice to see a little more variety in tracks and some varying scores throughout.
The sound effects follow the same theme. They re on par with the style and they re whimsical in their own manner, but they still don t have enough variety to really get me excited. The good news however, is that these effects are not nearly as boisterous as other runner titles. This means that even though they are very repetitive, they aren t “annoying” or overbearing. I would have liked to see numerous sound effects for jumping and slashing, instead of just the same looped sound, but at least it isn t hard on the ears or makes you want to turn your device down. The overall audibles are actually pretty engaging.
The problem with most running games is that the Gameplay is often identical. Your character runs for you, picking up speed, and its your responsibility to jump, dodge, duck, and slash your way through a variety of different obstacles. WindUp Knight is no different, and although it is still a cut above the rest within this specific genre, it still maintains a lot of the same practices.
A positive is that the simplistic play style will appeal to all gamer-types out there, from those who have never picked up an iOS title in their lives, to those of us who eat, sleep, and breath gaming. In fact, this is one of the first running titles that I have come across that really appeals to the hardcore gamer. Any of you brave enough to achieve an S Ranking throughout each level in a given chapter will be awarded with a special “Nightmare Stage” that will really test your merit.
The scoring system takes into account how many special coins and objects you collected during each level. But getting an S Ranking isn t easy. Take into consideration that you are always running from left to right and that there is not ability to go back. So missing a coin is a devastating affair, forcing you to completely restart the level to achieve perfection. This really increases the difficulty and will help this title to appeal to all you hardcore players out there.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining features of the game is the ability to purchase and equip a variety of items and weapons. You can change your shield, sword, helmet, and even armor. This not only gives you a side goal to complete, but also gives you a small sense of user-customization, making the game more of a personal experience. There is also an “achievement” section for those of you who are thriving to conquer this game in every facet.
WindUp Knight is a solid release from a new, and obviously talented, development team. It s got great graphics, a decent sound, and good gameplay, but unfortunately it isn t very innovative in its genre. You re still performing the same variety of motions that you do in most running titles and it can get fairly repetitive after a while. In short, anyone who isn t a “fan” of this type of game is probably not going to appreciate it much. Still, with a big shiny free price tag on it, it would be a shame not to at least give it the good old college try. I had a lot of fun with this title, and I think it s going to appeal to a lot more of you than the developers assume.