Knytt Underground – The PS3 Attitude Review
Knytt Underground is one of those games that I regret having waited so long to play. It only came out right before the holiday season kicked off, but has been so much fun that I would have probably forgotten about being with my family. Normally I would say that about a Battlefield or Uncharted game, but a downloadable indie game?
Yes, Nicklas Nygren’s got me spelunking through cavernous catacombs in search of more rooms and random human things. Knytt Underground is easily described as a 2D platformer with one of the most interestingly quirky stories of 2012. And just trying to explain the story is both a spoiler and extremely hard to do. You must know that Knytt Underground is an M-rated game due to all the swearing in the dialogue, very entertaining indeed.
What I will tell you about the story is that you control a mute sprite named Mi Sprocket who is very adventurous. She traverses deep into an underground tunnels and caves system to uncover the truth about her inability to speak, pixies, sprites, the religion of the Myriadists and the Internet… yeah, the Internet is referenced as a religion or religious group, not that thing you’re on right now granting you access to a whole world of knowledge. Actually, maybe Nicklas Nygren is on to something.
While Mi is on this adventure, she meets various other life forms. They talk to her but she can’t talk back, she only thinks what she wants to say. The dialogue is decently written, though later in the game characters tend to ramble on for quite sometime. Fortunately, I was able to spam the X button to bypass all the nonsensical banter.
Mi meets these two fairies and they go on to do the speaking for her. The two fairies offer up two unique perspectives and you have the choice as to whom will represent Mi in her answer. One fairy is good and wholesome, the other is spiteful and swears a lot. Eventually, Mi is forced to accept a quest to ring the six bells of fate and she’s told that if they don’t ring every 600 years it may bring on the end of the world.
Controlling Mi in this underground world is really what made this game fun for me. The story is great and never fully reveals itself, which perfectly parallels the world you’re tasked with exploring. The map is laid out in a grid pattern where there are 1800 rooms to chart. These rooms do not scroll while Mi moves through them, instead each room fills the screen. Once you enter a new room it will then appear on the map.
The game includes three chapters with the first two essentially being tutorials. But they do not come off as tutorials until you reach the third chapter when it all starts to make sense. The first chapter takes you on a linear course to teach you have to navigate the world as Mi. She runs, jumps, climbs, and can’t speak. Chapter two turns you into a ball where you can now bounce, swing, and still never speak.
Chapter three combines both of these forms and opens up the entire game. Throughout the game I was tasked with not just finding the six bells to ring, but also completing side quests and discovering lots of collectibles. This is definitely my thing and I ran my Vita’s battery down several times. It reminded me of Grand Theft Auto IV, not being to decide what I want to do first. Do I want to find all the collectibles, search and complete all the side quests, or ignore all that and take on the main story?
There are various puzzles strewn across the world that take advantage of Mi’s talent to switch forms from sprite to ball. By jumping off a high wall, turning into a ball, and bouncing off the ground I was able to access new areas otherwise inaccessible in chapters one and two. Some of these puzzles would incorporate these glowing colored orbs that were described as magical. Each color would allow Mi to traverse in a new way.
For example, the blue orb would allow her to fly in a straight line across several rooms until hitting an obstruction. The red orb would allow her sprite form to perform a super high mid-air jump. Collecting a yellow orb would sent Mi flying straight up the screen for a period of time. And the green orb allowed her to fly in any direction to avoid hazards like green lava or enemy robots.
Dying is one of the greatest things about Knytt Underground. When Mi touches a hazard and poofs into the after world, she’s quickly placed right back on the last platform she touched. No redoing massive sections of puzzles or returning all the way back to the last checkpoint. This really made the fun of exploring possible, because in some puzzles you will die a lot.
Throughout the world, Mi will discover beams of bright white light that act as manual save spots. At any time in the game you can upload the last save spot to the cloud and reload it onto the PS3 version or vice versa. The game is Cross Buy entitled but trophies are unified into one set of 20. Finding all of them is quite a challenge and will have you searching YouTube for video walkthroughs for sure.
Graphically, this is one of the prettiest games I’ve played on Vita, while still appearing extremely minimalistic. The story is light but has a great twist at the end that would surprise even the best CSI. The physics of navigating the world via Mi’s various forms is a huge reason why Knytt Underground is so utterly enjoyable to play. This game could have been only about exploring the 1800 screens, and yet its so much more.