Knight Squad preview: chivalrous shenanigans

Knight Squad is among the latest games trying to scratch the eight-player local multiplayer itch. Shacknews recently picked up its sword and went hands-on with this debut effort from Chainsawesome Games.

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Local multiplayer has been making quite a comeback in recent years, particularly in the indie gaming community. This emphasis on friendly, local competition was on display once again during this week's Indie Games Live event that followed the first day of GDC Next. Eight players gathered around a big screen to pick up their arms and run each other through in a quest for glory. Shacknews recently joined that same quest with a game called Knight Squad, from developer Chainsawesome Games.

The 16-bit Knight Squad takes several inspirations and effectively mixes them together. It features the top-down view and map design aesthetic of the classic Bomberman games, the dungeon atmosphere of old-school Gauntlet, and the power-ups and multiplayer madness of the more-recent Towerfall: Ascension. I spent the night playing the multiplayer Grail mode, in which eight knights of varying colors are on the hunt for a golden grail at the center of the map. The object is to grab the grail and bring it back to the knight's spawn point.

The result is pure chaos. Knights carry a standard sword by default, which is always effective for a one-hit kill. However, there are also numerous weapon drops that litter the battlefield. These weapons include swords of longer lengths for better reach, along with bow and arrows for projectile fighting and drills that can plow through walls. Power-ups also occasionally drop to further the insanity. One such drop will freeze all players in their tracks for a short period, while another will fill the arena with smoke. One of the more powerful items will see a player call forth several 'minions,' who will all rush opposing players and kill them without mercy.

Knight Squad's scoring system emphasizes grabbing the grail, but players can also earn small amounts of points for killing opponents and scoring chain kills. This can lead to some outrageous moments and some eye-opening final scores. The fun is in eight players, though the game will also support bots, in case that number isn't feasible.

While my time was mainly spent with the versus mode, Knight Squad will look to feature other game modes, as well. This includes single-player challenges, Last Man Standing, Capture the Flag, and other multiplayer variants, like the recently-added Juggernaut mode that adds a big honkin' minigun to the proceedings.

Those looking to try out Knight Squad won't have to wait long. It's already available on Steam Early Access, with the final version of the game expected to release on PC and Xbox One in early 2015. And yes, the final version is expected to include online play.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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