Black Knight Sword
The main character in Black Knight Sword starts off dead. At least, that’s what it looks like when on-screen velvet curtains part to show the opening tableau. Our hero is dangling from a rope in a dilapidated room. A neon sign in the background gives a hint that players should swing from side to side, and the motion frees the character. He slumps to the ground and then rises. Moments later, he’s greeted by a chubby floating blob thing who dives into the ground and returns with a glowing sword. After grabbing it, the main character is covered by black tentacles that envelop him in a suit-of-armor type exterior. It only gets weirder from here. Did I mention this was a Grasshopper Manufacture game?
As publisher Digital Reality puts it, Black Knight Sword is best described as Monty Python meets Czech animation meets Japanese paper theater. Sure enough, all of those inspirations are present and accounted for. The backgrounds are deliberately flat looking, and the screen is framed with a red velvet border reminiscent of an old movie house. The music is discordant and often off key. An out of tune piano is accompanied by a rhythm section that sounds as though it was cobbled together from old pots and pans.
Grasshopper’s bizarre sensibilities are immediately obvious in the gameplay, too. The knight encounters sad-looking enemies who walk on their hands, and he’s rewarded with hearts for slashing them into geysers of blood. Hearts are a familiar enough gaming convention, but the store is less familiar. It’s a birdcage mounted on a woman’s hopping leg. Similarly, powerups are distributed in microwave ovens that appear on the ground. After the knight wallops the timing dial a few times, it counts down and reveals its contents with a “ding” sound.
Right now it’s difficult to say if the game is all style or if its gameplay contains a fair bit of substance, too. The areas I saw looked completely traditional once you could see past the grotesque presentation. The knight has a double jump and a couple of attacks, but I didn’t see anything unique or memorable about the actual gameplay. Then again, maybe Digital Reality is holding out on us for the time being.
We’ll learn more in the next few months. The game is set for download on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sometime in January or February 2012.