I’ve spent the best part of over 100 hours playing Knight Squad on the Xbox One. As such, it’s probably fair to say that I quite like this game. It’s now on the Switch, but does the free-for-all action from Chainsawesome Games translate well to Nintendo’s hot hybrid?
First a bit of personal history — as I mentioned, I’ve put a lot of hours into this chaotic competitive arena battler. First released in 2015, I found myself playing it on the regular when it became the lunchtime game of choice at the office. Every afternoon my colleagues and I would gather around the TV and go head-to-head, to figure out who would be crowned office champ. This went on for months, and to be honest, got a bit out of hand — spreadsheets keeping tabs on who was in the lead from week-to-week became a thing.
Our collective obsession is now but a happy memory, but I’ll say this: whilst you’re in it, the frantic action is plentiful, close calls common, and tense moments the norm. Happy memories are one thing, but when you’re in the thick of it, heed this warning: friendships will be tested here.
(A quick aside as I don’t suppose any of my colleagues will be reading this - I’m more than comfortable telling you that I was naturally the all-time best player in the office when our time with Knight Squad was all said and done.)
The developers succinctly describe Knight Squad as ‘Bomberman meets Gauntlet’ and it’s a pretty fitting description. A typical game will see you dumped into a top-down arena with a set objective. Be that racking up kills in a straight-up deathmatch, capturing the flag, or holding down the fort in a king-of-the-hill style mode dubbed Gladiator — it’s then up to you to take on the other Knights and grasp glory.
Getting the win in one of the 13 modes is made possible due to a fun array of weapons, whether that’s a basic sword, snappy crossbow, or lethal laser. There is a fun variety of options here, and its a blast to mess around with each and see which works best in each situation. The Ripper, which chucks out a rotating spiky disc, is a personal fave (oh and the Boomerang is underrated). Power-ups show up from time to time and can make you faster, give you a shield, offer you a horse to ride around on, or even give you a powerful but lethal Kamikaze attack.
This mix of constantly spawning weapons, rhythm alternating power-ups, and fast-paced respawns make for a super satisfying party game experience. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition really: grab a weapon, slay some knights, score high points, be crowned the victor.
Such simplicity is a big appeal here. Knight Squad presents an accessible slice of chaos, and when united with a group of friends becomes a real boisterous and compelling offering.
The bigger the group the better, as up to eight players can join in across a range of head-to-head and team-based modes. You’ll definitely get more out of Knight Squad if you have a group of pals to play it with. Yes, there a few options if you’re playing solo, including a bunch of tricky challenge modes, but in reality, these feel like afterthoughts to the main arena action.
Unlike both the PC and Xbox One versions, the Switch port sadly doesn’t feature online play. This is a bit of bummer, as although the best way to experience this party gem is undoubtedly with friends on a couch, being able to play online would have made for a great addition to the Switch’s online roster - especially at a time when we’re all having to stay at home.
Putting this lack of an online mode to one side, this port is an irrefutable hit, as it’s pretty much a carbon copy of the original 2015 game. When playing local multiplayer you’re going to get the same experience on the Switch as you’d find on PC or Xbox One with no obvious disparity.
The core experience offers straightforward fun, with plenty of disorder, bedlam, and commotion threw in for good measure. Of course, to get the full mad eight-player experience you’ll need to wrangle a group of friends together, but even with a smaller group, this arena brawler has an honest and direct charm in its simple premise. With a ton of modes to chew through Knight Squad is a party game smash with plenty to keep any group busy.