Have you ever wanted to play a Zelda game but didn’t want to buy a Nintendo system to do so? Well, look no further than A Knight’s Quest, one of the most delightful and charming adventure games to grace the PC and consoles this year…and yes, you can even play it on the Switch. For this review I was playing the PC version, which is an Epic Game Store exclusive, and I have to admit I was totally blown away with both the presentation and the gameplay lurking inside this stylish adventure game.
A Knight’s Quest plays much like any classic 3D adventure title. You’ll be playing as Rusty, an awkward young explorer we meet up with in a pre-title tutorial level where he is exploring this massive underground cavern searching for treasure. You’ll learn the basics of running and jumping and even a slick Prince of Persia wall-run move. You’ll find and equip a basic wooden sword and shield and smash a few giant worms and learn to block with your shield before ultimately arriving at a mysterious chest situated next to a massive purple spire. Naturally, you open the chest triggering an earthquake that leads to one of the most exciting escape sequences I’ve played this year, ending with you washed ashore on the beach and that giant purple spire creating all sorts of panic with the local townsfolk.
From here on A Knight’s Quest moves along the same lines as most any other adventure. You’ll talk to everyone, explore every last inch of the charming levels, collect all sorts of items and treasures, unlock new quests and missions, solve puzzles, dodge traps, and hack and slash your way to hero status. There are fun abilities like launching a mini-twister from your metal arm to power windmills, and later you can unlock Spirit Powers and use Fire, Ice, and Time to aid your quests in both combat and navigation.
The world of Regalia is easily summed up by the word “magical”. The colors and textures that make up the environments in A Knight’s Quest are the stuff storybook fantasies are made of. You have all sorts of amazing locations, both indoors and out that cover all sorts of terrain and climates from icy mountains to sweltering deserts to misty swamps. Just getting around will often require some level of platforming expertise while running and jumping or climbing up ledges or even some super-fun rail grinding. These levels are loaded with collectibles as well as charming NPC’s and equally as charming monsters, but don’t let their cute appearances fool you. You’ll need to master some combat techniques for blocking and parrying while throwing in a dash of color-coded magic.
The game is loaded with so much content, even beyond the critical path. There are gold keys to discover, and plenty of treasure chests including special chests that only appear after you trigger a waypoint race challenge. There are these adorable slimes that sing and you must locate by their voice. Regalia is pretty much an open world although guards and gates will keep you from going too far off the story path. There is a fantastic map screen where you can place a waypoint then follow it on your compass as you explore. Your overall quest is to find three Spirit Knights to fix the whole purple spire dilemma, but there are plenty of other adventures along the way; hours and hours of adventures. Combat encounters are found in pockets, often leaving large empty expanses to traverse that can get slightly boring, especially when backtracking, and you will be backtracking at least until you unlock various warp crystals around the land. As is the case with most games in this genre, expect to find lots of places you can’t get into just yet, and then make a mental note to return later.
The presentation for A Knight’s Quest is dazzling, even under close inspection. What appears to be a simplistic retro design is actually quite detailed. Some close-ups reveal great texture work in clothing and landscape detail. Rusty has the smooth, almost plastic look of a next-gen LEGO, and the overall look of the entire game could easily be a CG animated series on Nickelodeon like Jimmy Neutron. All the characters have a wonderful look and individuality about them right down to their personalities and exaggerated facial expressions. The monsters and creatures are deadlier than they look ranging from the green plantlike blobs that deflate like a whoopee cushion when hacked with a sword, to the adorable but deadly skeletons armed with swords and bows. The bosses are jaw-dropping huge; guaranteed to impress. The game seamlessly transitions between gameplay and cutscenes so you are never taken out of the experience. The colors and lighting, texture work, and special effects all combine to create a convincing AAA experience you don’t expect from a $20 indie title. A Knight’s Quest has full support for 4K visuals with lots of video options so you can dial down that perfect 60fps with a wide range of PC’s. As of this review it’s worth noting that the v-sync option is labeled incorrectly, and to turn it on it needs to say “off” in the settings.
The music can only be described as epic when it needs to be, charming when you want it to be, and absent when it’s not needed. I could explore for days with the soothing piano score playing in the background, and when danger crops up expect a smooth transition into some thrilling combat or action set piece music worthy of The Lord of the Rings. What really blew me away was the sound effects mix that made complete and perfect use of my entire 7.1 Dolby/DTS home theater setup to completely immerse me in the game. During that opening escape sequence I could have sworn rocks were falling from my ceiling and rolling behind my seat. There are no voices so be prepared to read quite a bit in both exposition and conversation trees.
If you have any love for classic 90’s style adventure games with all the charm and innocence of that certain Nintendo franchise that starts with a “Z” then look no further than A Knight’s Quest, now available on PC and console. Packing in all the best parts of platforming, puzzles, combat, exploration, collection, and storytelling, A Knight’s Quest might just be the best adventure you take in 2019.