game of The week

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN& GAMES -

BLACK KNIGHT SWORD

★★★★

16 cert, Dig­i­tal Re­al­ity, Xbox Live (also PlayS­ta­tion Net­work) And so the brave black knight tra­versed the harsh land­scape to save the king­dom from... the charm­ing princess? This ba­sic premise is the key to

Black Knight Sword, a trib­ute to fairy­tale tra­di­tions told through a warped per­spec­tive. Think Roald Dahl’s Re­volt­ing

Rhymes mixed with Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Black Knight Sword is old-fash­ioned in a num­ber of ways. It’s a side-scrolling plat­form game with more than its share of sword­play, tak­ing in­flu­ence from a num­ber of old clas­sics. The com­bat is rem­i­nis­cent of the mighty

Strider, and the lay­out of lev­els echoes the early

Castl­e­va­nia games. Af­ter about three decades, the side-scrolling game has been stub­bornly re­silient, and at their best they’re ab­sorb­ing, fast-paced, easy to pick up and hugely in­tu­itive.

But Black Knight Sword is also retro in its ap­pear­ance, mim­ick­ing old an­i­ma­tion tech­niques and the­atri­cal tra­di­tions. The vil­lains – a cob­bled to­gether army of grotesques – are a clear trib­ute to Terry Gil­liam’s an­i­ma­tion. (Python ref­er­ences abound, whether it’s the voice­work, hu­mour or even the game’s ti­tle.) And the game is pre­sented like a play , with cur­tain calls, ob­jects dan­gling as if on ropes, and scenery that rolls aside like the­atri­cal back­drops. The sound­track adds to the home­made, ec­cen­tric feel: atonal pi­ano and clank­ing per­cus­sion, com­pli­mented by the jan­gling and creak­ing of the knight’s ar­mour.

It’s sadly ironic that the mi­nor flaws of Black Knight

Sword are also tra­di­tional, mostly re­volv­ing around save points not be­ing au­to­mated.

Like most down­load­able ti­tles, it’s avail­able in demo ver­sion so you can try be­fore you buy. This might be ad­vis­able, as the strange tone and ap­pear­ance might be off-putting to some gamers. But for those who like en­gag­ing and ir­rev­er­ent retro games, Black Knight Sword pretty es­sen­tial. JOE GRIF­FIN

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