A Treasure Worth Finding
HIGH A wonderful story with a beautiful setting.
LOW Minor story issues near the end.
WTF Rehydrating shrimp at the harbor.
There’s a hidden treasure on the island of Penfurzy — a treasure lost to time that people believe to be a myth, but Demelza knows it exists. She knows because her mom was close to finding the treasure before she unexpectedly died. Now, Demelza and her dad are facing eviction.
Finding the treasure is the only way to save their home, but Demelza doesn’t have to search alone – she has her new, mysterious friend Nessa and her trusty goose, Mr. Honkers. The girls (knights!) jump on their trusty steeds (bikes!) and thus begins the tale.
Knights and Bikes is more than just a simple treasure hunting adventure, though. I’m not one that usually needs a strong story — just give me good gameplay! — but Knights and Bikes delivers both. It’s well-written and deals with issues like friendship, loneliness, loss, and courage. There are numerous heartfelt moments, especially when Demelza talks about missing her mom. It wasn’t something I was expecting in a title that includes fighting an excavator on a miniature golf course, but here we are.
In their quest for the treasure, Demelza, Nessa, and Mr. Honkers explore Penfurzy and work together to solve simple puzzles, like flipping a switch or moving a refrigerator with a magnetic crane. However, the island is cursed, so they’ll also fight possessed creatures.
The cursed creatures take the form of sentient swords, burning elf heads from the island’s amusement park, and even the local librarian! To combat the bedeviled denizens, the girls have numerous realtime options at their disposal – throwing frisbees, using an unlicensed, electrified NES Power Glove to control enemies, and even a dual-cassette boombox with serious bass.
The attacks are humorous and performing the actions quickly become second nature. Also, it’s worth noting that Knights and Bikes was designed with co-op in mind, but solo players can switch between the two girls mid-battle with a simple press of the button. (Sadly, Mr. Honkers is not playable.)
In addition to the excellent story and gameplay, Knights and Bikes is beautiful to explore. The graphics seem as if paint, construction paper, and oil pastels were worked directly onscreen. Demelza has a powerful imagination, so outlines of ancient knights and mythical dragons appear superimposed across the landscape as the girls venture throughout the island. Whether it’s the run-down docks at the harbor, muddy paths through the woods, or the numerous puffins dotted across the landscape, every corner of Penfurzy feels alive.
With so much to like about Knights and Bikes, finding things to complain about wasn’t easy. One thing that came to mind is that the fifth chapter takes considerably more time to complete than the others, and at times seems to drag. However, the rest of the adventure has excellent pacing.
I also had a small issue with the ending. There’s a twist that’s hinted at shortly before it unfurls, but this foreshadowing would have had greater impact if was built up earlier instead of appearing so close to the finale. Otherwise, I have no issues with this incredibly well-written story. Knights and Bikes is an adorable little treasure worth finding.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Foam Sword Games and published by Double Fine. It is currently available on PS4, PC, and Mac. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes – both local and online co-op are available.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, and Comic Mischief. The violence is restricted to defeating possessed creatures and characters, however there is no bloodshed. Parents of younger gamers may want to use caution as the possessed enemies are sometimes depicted with a demonic look. Language is very mild and I can’t think of anything of concern, other than adults that may become upset and yell at the protagonists.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The dialogue is delivered entirely through text. A picture of the character and their name is clearly identified next to the lines they are speaking. However, text size cannot be changed. The goose, Mr. Honkers, has the only noticeable sound cue, but it is accompanied by a clear “Honk” written directly on screen. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.
As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.