Shovel Knight – Plague of Shadows
Tea: Devilish Potion Mixture
Plague of Shadows is the first DLC for Shovel Knight, but don’t reach for your wallet, since it is free for all owners of Shovel Knight. Since you own Shovel Knight, as you should, because it is an outstanding game, there is literally no reason not to get Plague of Shadows. The only question is whether this little guy is worth your time. Prime your potions and steel your shovels, because we are delving into this alchemist’s story.
Plague Knight is one of the knights of the Order of no Quarter and he specializes in alchemy and potion-mixing. The story revolves around him trying to get the essences of all the other knights to create an ultimate potion that will grant him any wish. By his side is the side character from the main game: Mona. Now she is no longer the bored girl throwing bits of glassware at you, but a fleshed out character and partner in crime to Plague Knight. The chemistry (haha, alchemy jokes) is really well developed and grants both of them a lot more depth than they originally possessed. Their story is a sweet, if sometimes a tiny bit soppy, love-story. The ending, which involves a brand new final boss fight by the way, finishes of the story quite nicely with a beautiful scene that will probably make you go “Aww, how cute”.
But to get to his goal Plague Knight must first traverse all the levels from the main game with only very minor changes. Plague Knight does play hugely different than Shovel Knight, however. His arsenal of mobility is comprised of a double jump and a bomb-burst that can launch him across the screen. Adding to this are arcane tools that, for instance, create platforms, make you perform an uppercut that can save you from dying, and many more. His main method of attacking is throwing bombs, just like in his boss fight. But unlike that encounter you have a lot more options here. A bomb consist of a fuse, a casing, and a powder. And there is a lot to mix and match. All of them are greatly diverse and switching just one of these components will alter you playstyle. While some combinations are of course more viable for certain things than others I often played around with different variations just for the fun of it. Adding to this is a customizable bomb-burst that will make you spin and damage enemies, drop slowly for more precision, scatter ice all over the place, and so on. Suffice it to say Plague Knight has a lot of variety build into his gameplay Messing around with all of that is a lot of fun and just shows how much time and thought went into this DLC.
Platforming is still the star of the show and while the levels remain unchanged to a huge degree, the new mobility options make them feel fresh and exciting again. You can often bypass obstacles that Shovel Knight had to wrestle with easily via a well-timed bomb-burst. That is not to say the game is easy with Plague Knight, because there is a good amount of learning that goes into this little guy. The learning-curve is a lot steeper than Shovel Knight’s, but not only more rewarding, but also more yielding as levels become a playground for new ways to traverse them rather than an insurmountable challenge. There are a handful of new rooms designed specifically for Plague Knight marked with a green coin in the wall. These usually require a bit more skill as the jumps and obstacles are more tailored towards your skill-set. Incidentally, these green coins are a new form of collectable that will allow you to unlock more upgrades to buy from Mona, so getting them is crucial for more fun.
The boss fights with the Order are still a lot of fun, even though some of them will get easier with Plague Knight, while others become a lot more challenging. I never had problems with Propeller Knight, but this time he was kicking my ass around his airship. The final boss, as mentioned previously, is slightly changed and is not only a worthy challenge, but also a visual design masterpiece. You will understand when you see it, no spoilers from me. Another interesting aspect is the change in attitude other characters have towards you. You can no longer enter the town as the knight will kick you out, but you can still enter the hall of champions, albeit be it with different results. The Troupple King will still aid you, but in a different way. This mixing up of established elements helps to grant Plague of Shadows the autonomy it deserves.
A special reward must be given for the amazing animations on Plague Knight. His movement animations are beautiful and can even be changed via a special cloak. Tiny little easter-eggs in his animation and the dancing are the icing on the cake that is Plague of Shadows. The soundtrack remains an amazing experience with the re-used tracks being no exception.
Plague of Shadows is a lot of fun, more fun even than the original Shovel Knight and that is saying something. Plague Knight’s story had me captured and rooting for him. His exchanges with Mona created a far more flashed out relationship than Shovel and Shield Knight’s as you can observe their interactions over a longer stretch of time and see the changes in characters. The added gameplay features gave the game a lot more depth and variety. Every little detail speaks of the love and care that was poured into this bit of DLC to a degree that it is almost overflowing. I can recommend Plague of Shadows with full force to everyone. If you have Shovel Knight this is a no-brainer, since – once again – it is free. And to anyone who does not own Shovel Knight: What is wrong with you? It is worth getting for this DLC alone. I wish there was a way I could pay Yacht Club for this amazing experience. Plague of Shadows is fantastic, nothing more must be said.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- http://edgecast.buscafs.com/www.levelup.com/public/uploads/images/381133.jpg (Last date of access: 04.10.2015)
- https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2015/06/ShovelKnightPlague_1.png (Last date of access: 04.10.2015)
- http://gameidealist.com/wp-content/uploads/sk_PlagueOfShadows_01.png (Last date of access: 04.10.2015)
- http://i.ytimg.com/vi/vsupOe7SrX4/maxresdefault.jpg (Last date of access: 04.10.2015)