Goichi Suda, better known as the Japanese game designer Suda 51, has become known as that guy who comes up with those quirky games that combines action-packed gameplay with weird premises and tons of pop culture references stuffed into them. Black Knight Sword may or may not be the same as the previous Suda51 offerings, depending on which detail you decide to focus on.
Riding on Suda 51′s reputation doesn’t necessarily make for a good game, although it does make for quite an aesthetic experience. Perhaps what separates Black Knight Sword from his other creations is that it’s a sidescrolling action platformer instead of his usual third-person action fare. His earlier works had been quite interesting, but recent releases have been rather underwhelming as a pattern started to become apparent, which is basically repetitive hack-and-slash gameplay with a seasoning of Suda51 flavor. Black Knight Sword is of a different genre, so it should play differently as well.
Gameplay centers around melee combat and environmental hazards, so the player must negotiate each level with a combination of his sword, magic, and mobility. So far, it’s looking like any other action platformer, but it’s the rest of the game that perhaps sets it apart from its counterparts with its visuals and setting. The game is presented as if it’s a puppet show, which explains why the top and the sides of the screen look like theater curtains. Everything is set up like it’s a play, which adds a bit of flourish to the visual presentation of the game.
You have to get past each level, taking out enemies in the ways and collecting power-ups and money to buy upgrades and abilities. One big thing about this game that goes beyond its rather novel exterior is the difficulty, which goes from pretty hard to insanity-inducing. When you think you’ve gotten past one thing, another hits you square in the face. The least that you can be thankful for is that the controls are pretty decent and while difficult, the gameplay is not impossible.
The 2D graphics are made to simulate the looks and movements common in puppet shows to give that disjointed yet tactile feel of the real thing. The story is narrated by a creepy voice that provides humorous commentary about the player’s troubles and mistakes throughout the game. Aside from the fact that it looks different, it plays well as an action platformer, and difficulty that can only be topped by the likes of I Wanna Be The Guy, there’s not much else going on for this game.
But perhaps what this game does have is that unique look and feel that provides a new gameplay experience that even the most hardcore of platformer fans would find interesting. Suda 51 fans will feel alright with this game, even though it’s quite different from the rest of his offerings. The difficulty gives incentive for players to play their hearts out and the aesthetics keep the genre fresh. It’s not a great game, but it’s not too bad either.
Tested in PS3. Final Score: 7/10