Knytt Underground intrigued me after seeing a few screens on the PlayStation Blog, so when I unwrapped a few PSN cards for Christmas, I knew what I was buying. At first glance, it would appear to borrow a stylized silhouette look similar to Limbo or Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. However, the background detail adds so much more. There’s a fine line between brilliant simplicity and shallow boringness. Where does Knytt Underground fall?
The game is comprised of three chapters. Chapter 1 introduces Mi Sprocket, the mute protagonist who can run, jump, and climb walls. There are also power ups which allow Mi to propel herself directionally, or blaze her own trail though the air. Not much later, Chapter 2 transforms Mi into a bouncing ball, allowing much higher jumping, as well as grappling in certain instances. After that the gloves are off, as Chapter 3 plunges you into the entire 1800+ room cave, allowing you to switch between mechanics with the press of a button.
Everything about the game is simple, in a good way. The visuals are impressive. Almost every one of the rooms offers something different to look at, in hues that span the entire visible spectrum. There’s so much vibrancy that I suspect a few shades from the invisible spectrum have also snuck in. Lovely groups of trees, flowers, and plants usually fill the backgrounds, but other themes ebb and flow throughout. Industrial machines and gears, glowing lava and poison pits, miniature cities, bioluminescent mushrooms, ethereal planes – should I keep going?
If there’s one fault, it’s the story. It was a bit too quirky and esoteric for me to follow – often riddled with expletives and sacrilege thanks to one of your accompanying fairies. I’m no saint, but a lot of the brashness seemed unnecessary. Your objective is to ring six bells to stop the approaching apocalypse. Along the way, you’ll meet all kinds of eccentric characters, who’ll send you on fetch quests, rewarding you with items that will allow you to gain access to the bells. There are also all kinds of other trinkets to track down, often requiring the flawless execution and combination of all the mechanics.
Overall, Knytt Underground is a great choice for fans of atmospheric indie platformers. It tackles the idea of spelunking perfectly. Despite the simplistic nature and odd story, I felt compelled to explore every single room. The large world easily justifies the price, and the game’s simplistic nature offers up a worthy challenge. The controls may not be the tightest, but solving each puzzle was extremely satisfying, even if they sometimes took many, many tries.
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- Visuals and sounds are beautiful and soothing.
- Mechanics are simplistic, but tough to master.
- Large world offers plenty to explore.
- Loose controls can sometimes cause frustration.
- Story is undermined by unneeded expletives, sacrilege, and rambling.