Knights N Squires: breathing new life into a tired genre
I was not expecting to like Knights N Squires. In fact, I was expecting to lambast it as another running game with yet another uninteresting twist. But here I am about to tell you to go and play this game, not later, not soon, but now! Knights N Squires is a running game, but it is also one of the most challenging fighting games I have ever played on a mobile device.
More importantly, it’s one of the few fighting games that works on a mobile device. South Korea’s Com2us has done a fantastic job on Knights N Squires and though it’s not a perfect game, it is bloody good!
How it works
If TianTian KuPao and Dungeons and Dragons had a baby it would look something like this. Knights N Squires is a running game, but it’s not endless.
The game is divided into levels which you must hack and slash your way through, and at the end you have to kill a boss monster.
But don’t worry: you are not alone. You will rescue allies during your journey who can join you and fight on your side. They have an auto attack but you can select when to use their special abilities, which can be anything from a hammer attack to a healing mist.
Knights N Squires requires you to attack, block, and throw your shield in order to progress, and rewards you for doing so quickly. As your combo score increases, so does your attack speed allowing for more efficient murder.
Cute does not equate easy
Cute games are usually easy games and when you look at Knights N Squires’ chibi characters, you’re probably not expecting challenging combat with a steep learning curve.
As I mentioned, Knights N Squires requires some serious focus. Killing flying enemies requires you to throw your shield, which leaves you with nothing to block with. Now this sounds like a small thing, but it isn’t.
When you have five enemies bearing down on you and you need to throw your shield, things become much more complicated. So blocking, throwing, and using special abilities becomes quite a tactical affair.
Decent RPG elements
An extra layer of depth is added to Knights N Squires through the introduction of RPG elements. Your character and allies level up as you progress and you can upgrade them by using other allies as material. Sounds like sacrifice to me but no one is talking about the elephant in the room, so I guess it’s fine.
Also there are items. Lots of items, to use and sell. Swords have elemental attributes, shields and armors can increase HP, reduce cool-downs, and do the things we love from RPG knick-knacks. Unlike many games where the RPG elements feel unnecessary, gearing up is essential in this game. If you don’t upgrade your allies or level them up, then you aren’t going to get far.
In-app purchases and advertising
Yay! This game features non-invasive in-app purchases (IAP) and only one super annoying fullscreen advertisement is present in this game. There are a lot of IAPs including upgrading your item slots, buying new main characters, and upgrading the dreaded stamina system.
Don’t get me wrong, I still hate stamina systems and wish they would stop ruining great games like Mobfish Hunter and killing fond memories of games of yesteryear. Dungeon Keeper still hurts.
At least in Knights N Squires the system is not too restrictive, and I always took a break naturally before running out of stamina.
Pay to win
There is definitely a pay-to-win element in Knights N Squires. There are two alternative characters you can buy, one with a much larger attack range, and one that can block after throwing her shield. Paying for these characters seems to be essential if you want to be among the top ranking players. The standard character doesn’t appear once in the top 20 of the ranking system.
There are moments when playing as the standard character feels like moving through molasses. Grinding is often necessary to survive later levels. If I could block and take out flying enemies at the same time, that would make life a lot easier.
More choices please
If I were to make a recommendation for future updates it would be to add further customization options. The RPG elements are really cool but it sucks that there’s no way to make your character unique. Even being able to change the colors of your character’s equipment would make my characters feel more like my own.
The last thing necessary to push Knights and Squires from good to awesome is less repetition and more variation. Give us branching pathways, and a choice of areas to fight in. This would make the whole world feel more vivid and alive. As it is, your character fights along a designated path, with many of the levels in each area seeming all-too familiar. Variety is the spice of life and Knights and Squires could use some more spice.
Is it worth a try?
I think I covered this in the first paragraph but yes, yes it is. There’s a great action game underneath the cute exterior, and the high speed gameplay will keep you coming back for more. If you have a few dollars to spare, I recommend picking up the extra characters; they make a big difference and are not expensive.