Review: Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon (Switch)

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Shovel Knight is one of those indie games that has become borderline mainstream. In fact, today’s review is on the first spinoff game for the Shovel Knight brand. The game is Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon, a puzzle game with some rogue-like elements. How well does this game represent the Shovel Knight series? Does this spinoff feature compelling gameplay? Let’s take a look.

shovelKnightDungeonPlay

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon presents itself as a puzzle game. Enemies and obstacles fall from the top of the screen, and pile up as they fill up the screen. If the screen fills up, its game over. Shovel Knight can clear up the screen by attacking enemies. If there are any adjacent foes of the same type, they all take damage at once. If the enemy survives the attack, shovel knight will take damage. Knock out these enemies, and the screen will clear up a bit, and you’ll get gems based on the number of foes you defeat.

There are also collectable potions too that will heal the player if you hit them, and they help you last longer in the game. Also interesting is that Shovel Knight has free range of motion and isn’t impacted by gravity, while enemies and obstacles fall based on gravity. To progress through an area, you need to have a key to open the exit door, but the game will give you treasure chests first that also require a key. Progress moves forward as you defeat foes, while the treasures give you items that make progress easier. Some chests have a shop inside where you can spend the gems you gather for nicer items.

What makes Pocket Dungeon particularly tough is what happens when you lose. While you keep the gems you earn, you usually have to start from the beginning of the game, unless you spend gems to go back to a stage you already cleared. This massive amount of backtracking can make the game really frustrating. Thankfully, there are settings that can make the game easier that are well worth tweaking to your liking. There’s also a shop at the base you start at that can make the game somewhat easier.

shovelKnightDungeonBoss

Also neat is that you can play as other characters if you find or defeat them in the occasional boss battles. The bosses have easily telegraphed attacks and more health than common enemies. Thankfully, potions and enemies do fill up the stage to make the fight possible as you do take damage if you attack the boss, like any other foe.

An Alternate ending appears to be part of this game as well. Unfortunately, the way to get it appears to be unclear as of this writing. It seems you have to do a series of oddly specific tasks, and may need a guide to figure out how to accomplish this feat.

shovelKnightDungeonVS

Before I wrap this up, I have to mention Vs. Mode. This is a fun way to practice your skill against other players or a computer, as well as to try out the other characters. However, the game only offers local multiplayer, with no online option at this time (it is unclear if a future update will add this feature). It is fun to send enemies to the opposing side when you clear a lot of foes on your side, much like in other puzzle games. This mode alone is worth picking up this game.

Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon is a fun if challenging game. The Shovel Knight series is well represented here, with familiar characters, graphics, and music. The novel concept is worth your time, and Vs. Mode could add a lot of fun to an already good game.

Recommendations:

  • Play the tutorial, if you don’t know how to play.
  • Look at and alter the settings early to make the game as easy or hard as you like. Tweak these settings if you think you’ll like the game to play differently.
  • See if you can beat the game’s normal ending first. You may need the warp cannon to get through it.
  • Stock up on items from the shop, when you get the chance.
  • Unlock the extra characters as you go. Try them out, if you are interested in a new experience.
  • If you want more out of the game, look up how to get the secret ending.
  • Try out Vs. Mode for a quick and fun challenge to play. Also, grab a friend if you can.
  • Attempt the game’s feats to try and really master the game, if interested.

Pros:

  • Fun graphics.
  • Good music.
  • Good core gameplay.
  • Lots of options to tweak your experience.
  • Optional characters keep the game interesting.
  • Fun Vs. Mode.

Cons:

  • Game is challenging.
  • Might need to start at the beginning if you lose.
  • Method of unlocking characters is unclear.
  • Getting the true ending is unclear.
  • Limited online features.

Verdict:

8.0/10 A great puzzle game

Range 7.5-8.5. If you like puzzle games, you’ll like this one too. The challenge level could limit the fun for some players, as could the unclear objectives. Otherwise, Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon is a fun, quick game to pick up.


Did you like this game? What’s your favorite character to use? What do you make of the difficulty? Did you like Vs. Mode? Let me know in the comment section! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you may subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!

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