“FIGHT KNIGHT” Review
“But the cruelest thing you can do to an artist is tell them their work is flawless when it isn’t.” — Ben Croshaw.
“I agree with everything but those last three words.” — Degenerate Prime Minister Froge.
Every critic has those brief moments of clarity, after the hangover and before the pub crawl, that makes them wonder if what they’re doing is of any benefit to society. No, wait, that’s too heavy. The better thing to wonder is if they’re of any benefit to their readers. What about the developers? Who cares about them, they already made the game. Or in more practical terms, there’s more readers than there are developers, so they’re going to have to deal with this socialist – democratic – utilitarian worldview shiiiiid.
The role of a critic, as I see it, is to better everything he touches through reasonable thought and rational rhetoric, applying the rules of the artistic dogma to inspire others to create better work, and to admire what a work does right even if it is not excellent as a whole. As with all philosophy, this changes from an hour – to – hour basis, so don’t hold that quote against me. The pragmatic definition is that a critic points out everything right and wrong with a work, also compared to artistic dogma. How does the audience usually take that? Like a bunch of screaming apes, or at least 10% of them.
What some audience members fail to realise is that, shockingly, a critic’s opinion is but one out of many. If a critic’s role is to agree with what everyone else says, they may enjoy a lively career as a Yes Man, free to throw away that big brain of theirs in favour of the path of least resistance; you can often tell the inexperience of a critic based on how polar their reviews are, either extremely positive or extremely negative. A negative opinion of a beloved work may be the last bastion of sanity in an insane world, like with (coughing up blood) Under Her Tail, a XXX Parody. A positive review of a work often derided may show features in that work which other critics don’t appreciate. But practically, if a work is so often disliked, it’s probably a stinker.
So here’s FIGHT KNIGHT (capitals required), a game which made a lot of Internet Welfare, has a comments section gushing with praise, a ton of fan art on their Twitter, but is more to the point not very good.
IT’S KNIGHT TIME BROTHA
Jesus Christ look at that title. Then look at the four similar titles on Itch, including “Knight Fight”, “Fight Knight”, and “Fight Night: Knight Fight”. Now I’m waiting for “Knife Fight Fight Night: Knife Knight Fights Night Knight”. Also, have you ever really looked at the word “Knight”? It’s like Dutch and English had a baby and threw it in the dumpster.
The premise is that you are FIGHT KNIGHT, a really cool knight who runs off his cool ship and scales a tower with cool skeletons beating them up with his cool fists. Yes, look at us, fellow kids, look at how cool we are. Alright, that’s not really fair, because FIGHT KNIGHT is kind of cool, if only in that ridiculous JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure way where everything is so over – the – top that you don’t have time to think it’s about manchildren using their ghostsonas to settle petty arguments by altering reality. But it doesn’t even succeed in that way: where JoJo’s is so batshit insane you have to keep watching (or reading if you’re a nerd) just for the bile fascination, there’s too much dead air in FIGHT KNIGHT where nothing happens, causing you to remark on how boring the whole experience is.
The main combat consists of punching skeletons and midgets a bunch of times until they fall over, on a two – lane system where you can dodge, parry, and step back from attacks. The faster you smash spacebar, the faster your attacks get, and of course there’s no autofire, so arthritis it is. On each encounter, completely random encounters I might add, you settle into a routine of smashing space bar, waiting for an attack, stepping backwards, and uppercutting the guy. Even with the ranged enemies, it’s dead easy to parry the attacks, and there’s just no challenge in the combat whatsoever. It doesn’t test your reflexes, it doesn’t require rhythmic technique, the mechanics are simple to the point where there’s nothing to learn after the first ten minutes, and doesn’t even punish you that much if you fail. Of course you’ll take damage, if only because of the law of averages, and then be forced to walk back to your ship to heal up. This isn’t what I consider the pulse – pounding action worthy of a name like FIGHT KNIGHT.
NEVER MIND BROTHA
Adding insult to injury is the monotony that is tower exploration. Are you the type of person to unironically enjoy solving paper mazes? I would say this is the game for you, but it’s not even that labyrinthine; it’s unintuitive. The level design is devoid of any distinguishing details or markers of where you’re supposed to go that you wander around the levels waiting for something new to show up, and even then nothing happens. You meet a few characters who demand you fetch their garbage, but beyond that there’s no plot at all to keep you going. The reason the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series could get away with recycling the same random dungeon a thousand times is because you knew at the end there was going to be more story to explore and more characters to love. I don’t have any of that here. It’s all walk, walk, walk, and walk you do, for no reason beyond “someone’s gotta do it”.
It’s one of those fake – 3D games which were so popular in the 90s, except it would have to be actual 3D in this case because no developer would ever want to deal with anything invented in the 90s, meaning movement is all on one straight plane. This doesn’t impact the gameplay, because all combat exists in the Skeleton Pocket Dimension that you’re conveniently teleported to at the computer’s whim, and is just another æsthetic choice in the vein of ripping off everything that ever existed for the sake of nostalgia. What it does impact is the monotony; all movement is grid – based, you stop on every square, and you can’t hold down the movement keys to go fast. Why? I guess we were ripping off the bad ideas as well as the good ones.
The only reason I’m not failing this game is because of it’s design. Not its material design, because that’s awful (for instance, the minimap making the arbitrary distinction between squares you were next to and squares you were on). But rather the whole of the æsthetics I so often bring up, if only as an excuse to use the æ symbol, see also Æ, Œ, and µ. Everything is dithered, which is an eyesore even on the best – looking filter, but it makes for decent screenshots, so what the heck, eh? You talk to people by punching them and navigate menu by punching them. Buttons are punched on, doors are punched down, and even trying to equip a weapon makes it explode in the FIGHT KNIGHT’S hands. It’s kind of creative. Kind of. I’m not blown away by it. I don’t see it as an example of what to rip off for my own art projects. But at least it’s something that shows this was made by a developer who knows what they’re doing. Though given the gameplay, I think they need to work on that reputation.
You know, sometimes I feel bad for making fun of indie games that were made by a few people and were probably funded out – of – pocket over the years by those same people who had to go into debt and then work a day job on the side for the sole sake of releasing their game. But then I realise that every indie game is like that, and that doesn’t stop them from being damn good as well as damn bad. Who cares about the authors? What about me! If I’m playing this game and I don’t like it, the author’s story ends there. Full stop. The author has to earn their right to be played, no matter the circumstances, and the practical cut – and – dry conclusion is that I just don’t like this game very much.
Full disclosure, I only played a half – hour of this game, so if you want to say that invalidates my criticisms by virtue of critics needing to play a game for an arbitrary time limit, notwithstanding that the audience will be much less generous with the time they spend playing the game, then that’s your business. But that’s a half – hour I could have spent watching Nichijou. And when it comes down to it, would I have rather watched an episode of Nichijou, or play this game for the same amount of time? It’s a no – brainer, really.
I suppose the biggest argument for my being a critic is, simply, because I can be one. The laws of this great country allow me to criticise works, and the only justification I need is that the work itself was made available to the public, to be enjoyed by the public, and as such the public has every right to comment on it. If such comment inspires better works, then it has confirmed its existence. If it is used to entertain the audience, even better! As I always say on Kratzen, the big question I ask myself when writing is, “is this worth playing?”. And the answer for this one is, simply, no.
Not that the developer cares. 35,000 dollars in Internet Welfare! That’s my entire salary!