Knytt Stories
Written by Angelo M. D'Argenio   
Sunday, 09 March 2008 takes a look at 2007 platformer of the year, read our extensive review of Knytt Stories.


 A common problem with independently developed games is that they try to replicate professionally developed games with access to far less technology.   This generally ends up creating clunky half finished games that no one really wants to play because of how broken and incomplete they feel.  Most truly award winning independent games are developed with their technology level in mind.  Knytt Stories is an example of this, bringing the independent PC adventure plat former to a whole other level of simplicity.

The Knytt series of games is simple.  Move with the arrow keys and jump.  That’s it.  That’s the entirety of the game.  You have an inventory that you use sparingly and you eventually learn special abilities such as the ability to stick to walls or double jump, but most of the game is moving and jumping and there is something a bit alluring about this simplicity.  It’s a pixel platformer and it works just as a pixel platformer should.  There are a couple jumping puzzles and some enemies to get around but mostly you are traversing the beautiful worlds on your way to a goal.

When I call Knytt Stories an adventure game I call it that because it’s not “entirely” level based.  The stages are meant to be explored, not just traversed, and this is something hat is actually very welcome about the game.  Pixel games many times have a hard time creating atmosphere, and they keep gamers on the outside looking in.  This isn’t the case with Knytt Stories however, as each level entirely draws the gamer into an interactive experience.  At one point you’ll be in a cave, and then next a forest, and the next a bustling city, and none of these feel like carbon copies of each other.  Overall, regardless of the fact that the game had to work with what limited resources that it had, and that everything was essentially just a strung together series of what you can step on and can’t step on, each area in Knytt stories has its own identity which is something very many other independent games operating on the lower end of the technology pool lack.

Also, let me tell you something, as a reviewer I think that custom soundtracks are NECESSARY for independent games.  I have played so many games that were ruined because the creator used repetitive sound clips from other games, or a random MIDI of Linkin Park or something like that.  Knytt Stories however has a completely original soundtrack made by its creator Nifflas.  The soundtrack itself is a work of art.  Each piece of music fits perfectly into the atmosphere it is trying to create.  Of course toned down MIDI music might not be your thing and if that’s the case the experience of Knytt Stories might change a bit, but I think its hard for any gamer to deny that the music very much makes the game in this place, regardless of what technology it is created on.

Let’s talk about the graphics for a while though.  Yes this is a sprite game and yes it is a sprite game on the lower end of graphics.  I would say it fits somewhere between the Nintendo and Super Nintendo in terms of performance.  There are some repeating textures and background elements, and some of the ground and sky is just a single color.  The thing is, this is all very expertly hidden by the wonderful level design.  I’m sure you have all played independent games before where you see a tree, and then five seconds later the same tree, and so on so forth.  Well some items in Knytt stories repeat, but they repeat at unexpected intervals.  Essentially, by the time you see the exact same tree you have forgotten that you have seen it once before.

One more thing about the level design before I stop my ranting and get down to the nitty gritty.  The level design is linear, but you will never realize it.  By that I mean by playing Knytt Stories you will eventually get to where you need to go, always, but it never feels like it.  The stages run smoothly and you feel almost as if you are choosing your path even though it is predetermined.  You will be funneled to a particular location no matter what you do, but as the gamer you feel like you have chosen that location.  I have seen reviews comparing this game to Metroid and that is a bit of a fallacy.  Knytt stories isn’t free roaming, it just feels like it.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or not honestly, but I suppose it depends on the type of gamer you are.  If you are looking for something really more adventurous and free roaming then Knytt stories might not be for you, but if you are ok with a good linear game then definitely give it a try.

For the final portion of my review, I think its important to say that Knytt stories isn’t actually a game in and of itself but an expansion pack for a game Knytt, that all the wonderful things I said previously still apply to.  Unlike a single solid game, Knytt Stories is actually a combination of side stories that are each self contained tales in an of themselves.  There are two or three official Knytt Stories, and two or three more done by third parties, and about 100 done by fans.  That’s enough to keep you playing for a very long time.  Unfortunately, not all of these have the allure of the original game made by Nifflas, but that’s sorta the point. Knytt stories was your chance to make Knytt your own game and your game alone and not many other games give you that opportunity.

This game won platformer of the year for 2007 and truth be told it deserves it.  The thing is, not every level will dazzle you, and not every level will be a work of art, and you kind of have to accept that.  However, with the sheer variety of stories out there, one is bound to be your favorite and that is what makes this game so good.  There is something for everyone, no matter who you are, not because the developers included it but ebcuase you yourself the gamer included it.  In the end, I suggest you download this game.  It is free, it is fun, the base for it is phenomenal and you will be playing for hours.  There no real end to the Knytt stories just more beginnings and that is what sets this game apart from all the rest.  It is much less a game and much more an art piece contributed to by many artists.  What’s great is you aren’t just the player, you are the artist as well.

Related: Mario Forever, Seiklus, Polychromatic Funk Monkey, Cavejumper
Nifflas’ Games
Website for Game:
Publisher: N/A
O/S: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
Cost of Full Game: Free
Year of Release: 2007

Tested on:
Intel Core2Duo 1,86 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista

Be first to comment this article
RSS comments

Only registered users can write comments.
Please login or register.

Powered by AkoComment Tweaked Special Edition v.1.4.6
AkoComment © Copyright 2004 by Arthur Konze -
All right reserved