Shovel Knight is fantastic. I'm sure you've already heard that a million times by now because this game has been hyped up by just about everyone that has played it. Well, there's a good reason for that. The reaosn is... it lives up to the hype. It's one of the best games made in year. Perhaps one of the best game EVER.
Shovel Knight is a 2D platformer where you run and jump around swinging your shovel at enemies and objects. You can also use your shovel to bouce off of enemies and objects as well. The gameplay is very similar to that of Mega Man and Ducktales. You also get some pretty cool powerups along the way, by them secondary items that use magic, or just upgrades to your main gear. You get them by buying them with gold. You get this gold by collecting gems throughout the levels. When you die, you lose some of your gold and get sent back to your last checkpoint. However, if you get back to the place where you died, you can reclaim your gold as it is separated into three floating sacks. Pretty nifty way to punish you for dying without limiting you to a number of lives. The levels are picked from an overworld map very similar to the style of Super Mario Bros 3. There are even some enemy encounters on the map that aren't associated with specific levels or locations. There are also a few towns to visit, which is the root of a lot the game's humor along with serving as the main hubs for shops.
The great thing about Shovel Knight is how it really commits to the retro style. It's all pretty faithfully 8 bit in visuals, sounds, music... almost everything. It also controls like a dream. It might be intimidating at first, and you might assume it will be classically NES hard. Well, it's not too tought. Believe me, there are harder games out there. I may not be able to beat most Mega Man games, but Shovel Knight wasn't too much of a problem. The game can get tricky, even a little frustrating at times, but it keeps things interesting by constantly throwing new things at you and I never found any part of the game to seem hopeless. Whenever I had trouble with a part, I knew it was because I was doing it wrong, not necessarily because it was just incredibly tasking. The balance is great and is only further aided by the tight controls. There are also a good number of secrets for you to keep your eyes peeled for.
The presentation is wonderful. The 8 bit art style is very charming, and the setpieces are very detailed. Not to mention all the pretty colors used. The sound effects are very satisfying, from jumping, to hitting enemies, so collecting treasure. The music is amazing. Just listen to the title theme and try not to get totally pumped for this game! (SPOILER ALERT: It can't be done.) Everything just comes together in one glorious package of pure awesomeness.
Complaints? I guess I have a few, though they are very minor... but... well no game is perfect, Not even this masterpiece. For as retro as most of it is, a few things are modernized. The scrolling background and some of the colors and sound capabilities... plus a lack of slowdown... most of that might have been a bit much for an old NES game to handle. Also, there are lots of checkpoint, which isn't very classically inspired. You CAN destroy them for gold so that there aren't checkpoints but... they are there by default. There's also autosaving and achievements which can't be turned off. These things aren't bad. In fact, they are all here for a reason, but they DO break the retro style a tiny bit. That's all. Also, there's no multiplayer options. I mean, online would also be breaking the retro style, but local mutliplayer, co op, or switching off on deaths or something... that would've fit just fine. However, I assume the game would need to be made a lot differently if two players were involved in the quest, so I can't really complain for something the game didn't do and honestly didn't need to do. Perhaps in a sequel, eh? ;)
Overall, this game is great. The controls are so tight and are coupled with fun and intersting gameplay. The difficulty curves quite nicely. The presentation is incredible. Even little details are well done, giving each boss knight their own personalities rather than just having them be generic themed bosses at the end of themed levels. There's a certain cohesiveness. This game is amazing. It costs $15, and is well worth it. It's worth even $20, honestly. In fact, if this game had a physical copy, I'd be willing to pay $30 for it! It's THAT good. It's a must have, and even now is making me reconsider what my favorite game on Steam is because it's just so great. Buy it now. Don't bother to wait for a sale. The sooner you get this game and start playing, the sooner you will be happy. You're welcome.
10/10 Would shovel again.