Knights And Bikes Review – PC

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Knights and Bikes might not have been made by Double Fine but their influence on the title is unmistakable from the very first split screen image of the two girls and the remarkable storybook art design that is reminiscent of another Double Fine game, Broken Age. Set in the 80’s on a British island resort, you’ll be playing as two young girls, Nessa and Demelza, who will be getting into all sorts of mischievous fun and Goonies-like adventures.

While perfectly playable alone, Knights and Bikes is so much more fun when experienced with a friend, either online or with shared screen co-op. The AI does an admirable job of controlling whichever girl you are not during single player, but many of the challenges and puzzles are much easier when tackled by two.

Knights and Bikes is all about friendship and when Nessa arrives on Penfurzy via the supply ferry it doesn’t take long for her to cross paths with Demelza, a radical tween who loves adventure, video games, and especially her bike. Speaking of bikes, the opening credit sequence is one of the best presented openings of any game this year with a crazy punk rock theme song that sounds like it’s being sung by an age-appropriate kid while you steer these out-of-control bikes racing down a hillside and through minefields.

After a good night’s sleep the girls set out on their epic quest that takes them all over the island in search of collectibles, bike upgrades, and fun challenges. The game does a great job of combining the talents of both girls with one using ranged attacks and the other using the power of her boots to stomp her way to victory. And make sure to keep Captain Honkers, your pet goose fed, and he might find you some cool loot. Knights and Bikes is seamlessly divided into these compact chapters that create natural stopping points for quick bursts of gaming, or you can marathon the entire experience in 7-8 hours.

The one thing I adored about the game was that the story and script was authentic to the age of these girls. The dialogue was natural and realistic and you almost feel the designers used their own kids as consultants. The story is the focus of the game, so the puzzles, challenges, exploring and any other game mechanics were there only to service that story, but they never got in the way of the narrative flow. The way the game uses the girls’ imaginations to create specific story and game moments is incredibly fun and original as is the large variety of puzzles.

The girls have their own unique set of abilities rooted in reality like using a Frisbee, or stomping in boots, or blasting your boom-box. The girls mix their exploration between on foot and riding their bikes. They can tumble through low openings and even sprint when necessary, but everything is kept simple and fun for gamers of all ages.

The presentation was original and refreshingly charming, almost like the game was created from cardboard and construction paper then animated by hand. There was great use of colors and multi-layered textures. The audio was a bit hit and miss with some really great songs that popped up during key moments,   but otherwise much of the game lacked ambience or environmental sounds. There were direct effects for your actions but without any speech much of Knights and Bikes is played in modest silence.

Knights and Bikes is great fun for adults and equally as enjoyable if you want to play with your kids. There aren’t that many family-friendly games out there, but this is a particularly great fit for some shared game time with the kids with a story they can relate to and gameplay that is perfectly accessible. The game drips with personality and charm and there is never a dull moment. The pacing of exploration and puzzle-solving is perfectly balanced, and I was especially impressed with just how well this game, which was clearly intended for co-op play, actually played out when going solo. Whether you play alone, or with friends, or your own kids, prepare for a totally original action-adventure rooted in 80’s nostalgia and wholesome storytelling. I look forward to seeing more adventures for Nessa and Demelza…and Captain Honkers.

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