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Knytt Stories is a simplistic, yet intriguing platformer from Nifflas, a popular indie game developer who is most well known for his work on the Knytt franchise, Within a Deep Forest, and NightSky. Every once and a while you stumble across a game that defies all expectations and is one that you can hardly stop playing. Knytt Stories is one of these games: Clever, intuitive, expandable, replayable, and just plain fun. This game is less a game and more a work of art.
At first sight, Knytt Stories isn’t much. There is a small screen with retro-looking “pixel” graphics, which looks the same regardless of it you run the game in full-screen or windowed mode. The controls are simple with the arrow keys to move, and the “s” key to jump (who would’ve thought of that!). The tutorial level has easy-to-follow instructions for any newbies to the game. However, as soon as you step into the first level, “The Machine”, you may be a little lost because of how Knytt Stories works. Knytt Stories has a “puzzle” aspect to it, causing some players to be confused on how to advance to newer levels: Throughout the levels, you will need to collect certain power-ups in order to advance. These power-ups include the ability to run, to double jump, run on walls, float farther distances with an umbrella, and other cool skills that you can usually find only in video games (unless, of course, you are telling me you can float with an umbrella in real life). You will not be able to get far without locating and utilizing these power-ups; so getting lost is about the only drawback to Knytt Stories, and you find out about it rather quickly.
Initial Impression: 87/100 – Good
Knytt Stories Full Review
Knytt Stories is similar to other platform games. You run around, avoid enemies, and collect power-ups.
Finding power-ups is the only way to advance in the level, as the more that you have, the more places that you can go.
Unlike most other platformers, Knytt Stories revolves more heavily around exploration. You can frequently find yourself backtracking.
Enemies are also handled a little differently in Knytt. Instead of simply jumping on their heads to kill them (how boring!), you get to avoid their numerous attacks.
Later in the game, more difficult enemies shoot stuff at you, requiring the need to be fast on your feet.
Finally, in Knytt Stories, each level is a story (come on, you say that one coming). You follow a predefined path, picking up the story through the opening sequence, or through the dialog in the game. As long as you have new levels, which are constantly being made and shared by the users of KnyttLevels, you can be sure to never play the same level twice unless you want to, like I did. These gameplay features make Knytt unique, but could be frustrating to people who do not like to explore. For this reason, I give Knytt Stories a superb rating for gameplay, instead of a perfect score.
Gameplay: 97/100 – Superb!
The graphics are nothing too advanced; they are barely a step about the pixel graphics popular in the days of Nintendo Gameboy. Long story short, the pixel graphics will not appeal to everyone; so the graphics rating is very subjective and will vary on a person-to-person basis. However, viewing the graphics in the context of being pixel graphics, I feel that the game is enhanced by the graphics, and that the animations of the characters, the backgrounds, and the objects are all beautifully drawn. I understand that this will not appeal to everyone, but I think it is perfect.
Graphics: 100/100 – Perfect!
The audial aspect of Knytt Stories are soothing. Personally, because of the background music, I find playing this game helps me to relax. Even the sound effects, from the gentle ambient sounds of waterfalls (when you are near one) to the chirping of birds, enhance the playability. I personally enjoy the sound the player makes when she dies. I’ve jumped into several water pits just to hear the awesome “whoosh” that accompanies Juni’s death. Cruel, I know, but it is only a game. You may find yourself doing the same. One last thing about the music is that it fits with the level (at least in the included levels). When your character is just exploring (and getting lost ), you hear a mournful, lonely piece. When the game is about to become intense with a lot of enemies, the music will change, intensifying your experience. I personally welcome the music and sounds and praise them with my highest honor, a perfect. (Of course anyone disliking the music and/or sound effects can turn them off.)
Sound: 100/100 – Perfect!
I have a few final notes about the game before I give my final rating. First is that this game will not be loved by everyone as I love it. Some aspects will be criticized. Others will be praised. It all depends on the person playing it. Second, the level that comes with the game, “The Machine” is BIG. You will be surprised with how many different “sublevels” you will encounter, along with the variety of enemies, tricks and turns, and exciting occurrences. The sublevels range from a dark cave that has the life sucked out of it by a mysterious machine, to a snowcapped wonderland high up above the rest of the land, and also an underwater factory which surprisingly takes a while to pass. These sublevels are all included in the same story, and you really have to step back for a moment, and admire the time that was spent creating this. Finally, you can’t be too harsh about this game. It was created largely by one person (a few others assisted him in a few things), and it was done entirely in his spare time, without any thought of seeking profit. Enjoy that this is free, and will (hopefully) always remain free.
Final Score: 99/100 – Phenomenal!
Version reviewed: v1.2.1
Supported OS: Windows 2000 and higher, Ubuntu (with Wine), Nintendo DS Homebrew
Download size: 34.7MB (installer), 38.8(ZIP)
Price: Freeware ($0)
Note: Extra levels are available to download at http://knyttlevels.com/ (contributed to by the community) and at the official website (for official full-quality add-ons), in addition to levels that you can make yourself with the included level-builder.