Knytt Stories

In the world of video games there are those that fit neatly into the mold of what we think games should be.  And then there are those that spill out of the mold revealing themselves as art merely presented within the medium of ‘video games.’  Knytt Stories is just such an achievement.  The fact that it’s given away freely is a nice bonus.  To put it another way this isn’t something you play so much as something to be experienced…And I dare say non-gamers are apt to enjoy this one just as much as traditional gamers.  Everything about this highly original platformer is presented in a modestly beautiful fashion, from the simple, intuitive menus to the enchanting music, characters and neo-retro graphics.  But I really don’t want to build it up too much so let’s talk about some of the features and gameplay.

First of all the game does support ‘fullscreen’ mode, but plays and looks best in it’s natural resolution, which happens to be a small rectangle.  Assuming your monitor’s just in front of you this shouldn’t be an issue.  The space bar and arrow keys are used to control the main character, with no built-in gamepad support – which I usually prefer.  Fortunately, the movement of your little Knytt isn’t so complex that keys feel awkward (an achievement unto itself).  And, in a way, this leaves the game more accessible to casual gamers.  Knytt Stories is an exploration style platformer, which means your character can move about the world more freely than with other games where you’re trying to progress through linear levels.  What keeps you exploring the world is the need to assemble pieces of a machine.  But I’ll leave the game to share the greater details of the story.

One of the great aspects of Knytt Stories is the way it slowly introduces you to the game mechanics.  For example, you start off with little more than the ability to run about.  Pretty soon you’ll encounter an object, and from there gain a new ability that’s explained right on the spot.  Frequent save points give the game a forgiving demeanor that frees you up to boldly explore with little worry about having to backtrack.  This is well since the act of exploring this artistically charming world is really the true focus of the game.  Obstacles and foes aren’t ever too much to handle and the world is populated with many interesting and friendly creatures as well.  In fact, one of the little joys of the game is figuring out which creatures are friendly and which are dangerous.

The game was designed to support expansion packs of which a few are readily available.  So once you complete the included story feel free to download some of the others.  If you’ve played through those and are still in the mood for more you’re in luck.  Author Nifflas has also crafted a couple of other standalone gems in their own right.  The prequel to Knytt Stories called simply Knytt, introduces much of the same gameplay from the more polished predecessor.  Within a Deep Forest on the other hand presents a similar visual theme but an entirely distinct style of play that, consequently, may not be suitable for casual gamers.  But then it could be the game that breaks you out of that category through a higher degree of challenge.

Simplicity, style and atmosphere are the shining jewels for a game that’s earned a deserving reputation within the independent gaming community.  There’s no need to worry about killing creatures or stomping on their heads as everything is about avoiding danger, overcoming obstacles and, occasionally, floating down with an umbrella.  For a casual platformer that’s easy to pick up and play, or a brief journey through a world of sight and sound, Knytt Stories is not to be missed.

Designer: Nicklas ‘Nifflas’ Nygren
Type: Original
Genre: Platformer
Format: Compression Pack
File Size: 39 MB
Control Scheme: Keyboard
Portable: Yes
Version Played: 1.2.1

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Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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