Just Stay Down…

HIGH It’s reminiscent of classic 2D action games.

LOW Bland levels ending with super-difficult bosses.

WTF How the heck am I supposed to dodge that?!?

Fallen Knight is a 2.5D action-heavy platformer that freely borrows from older titles, and most obviously inspired by Capcom’s classic Mega Man series — it’s clear as day in its level design and the way we pick which area to tackle next from a grid-like menu depicting bosses we’ll face. It also borrows from recent indie sensation Hollow Knight in the way its upgrade system works and how the moves unlock. However, it falls short in so many key areas that it simply cannot be recommended, even if its heart is in the right place.

Let’s begin with the production values. Fallen Knight is made by a small studio so I never expected ground-breaking visuals or an orchestral score, but given how unevenly it runs with various instances of stuttering and slowdown crippling the animation of the rudimentary graphics, I wondered why they bothered with 3D models in the first place.

Games like this must play ultra-responsively. Every attack and dodge should be instantaneous on the player’s command. The feeling that something was “off” never went away during my time with it, including things like a slow walking speed and a short lag between pressing attack and my knight actually striking.

Another issue lies with Fallen Knight‘s counterattack ability that lies at the heart of its combat – a move that allows almost every enemy punch to be turned against the foe that threw it, if timed correctly. Due to the inherent sluggishness in control, I never got the hang of it, and the times that I did pull it off felt like luck more than anything. Similarly, the character can run up walls to dodge nasty projectiles, but I would often bump into the walls head-first, again thanks to the unpredictability of my inputs being recognized and followed.

I did persevere through such annoyances but other problems kept appearing, most notably the boss battles which are a huge focus, yet they only serve to reinforce that this game is not ready for primetime — the area-of-effect of their attacks take up too much of the screen, and the player’s character has a fairly large hitbox.

Don’t get me wrong — I always revel in puzzling out the correct positioning needed to beat tough bosses, and I’ve delighted in all sorts (including anything found in half a dozen FROM Software titles) but Fallen Knight presents the wrong kind of difficulty – many of the bosses’ assaults are inescapable by taking up 90% of the screen, and what’s worse, they usually chain two or three follow-up strikes. Being caught by one automatically means having to suffer through the rest as punishment, and much like the counterattacks, whenever I’d succeed, it felt like pure luck.

Fallen Knight does offer ways to combat its unwelcoming nature — things like unlocking more hit points, the ability to heal faster and for greater effect, or maneuvers that grant prolonged invincibility periods upon executing. However, there’s a catch — they cost an arm and a leg to unlock, demanding that we grind completed levels for an unreasonable amount of time while accumulating currency, just to amass the needed sum.     

The result of all this is a series of unfortunate circumstances that destroy any possibility of Fallen Knight being something enjoyable. Between the laggy inputs, unfair boss fights and a reliance on grinding as a means of survival, I can’t recommend this one, even to the most fervent fans of the genre.

Rating: 4 out of 10

— Konstantin Koteski

Disclosures: This game is developed by FairPlay Studios and published by PQUBE LTD. It is currently available on XBO, PS4, Steam. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the story, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game has received an “E” rating by the ESRB, and contains Fantasy Violence. It’s an action-heavy 2.5 D side-scroller with some platforming sections taking place in a futuristic setting. It features 3D characters modeled like toys, with big heads disproportional to the rest of their body who are equipped with swords, shield, rocket launchers, etc. There’s no blood and defeated enemies disappear instantly. The game looks completely kid-friendly, but it’s very, very difficult.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is written – there’s no audio when a character speaks. The size of the text is not able to be altered or resized. Sound is completely unimportant for finishing this game, as all enemy actions are telegraphed visually. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: This game does offer a controller diagram, and the control scheme is not remappable.

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