Losing the only thing you know is devastating and can upset your world, making you question the place you held. This is the premise in the next add-on for Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight. You play as King Knight, the most extravagant boss from Shovel Knight. King Knight is hell-bent on taking back his kingdom from these “Three Kings” who are currently controlling the nearby areas. Shovel Knight: King of Cards is a game of retribution and one about loss. It is also something which plays with your expectations, and each movement feels different from the next.
One of the environments in the build I was playing was called Trouple Pond, which is a brand new environment for the series. Upon your arrival, you get introduced to the level’s mechanic, moving salamanders. Each action you hit with these creatures move them, they will slowly creep back into the hole which they originally came out of. This environment is reminiscent of Dagobah and is filled with swamps. Each creature feels like it belongs there, and has this creepy nature to them. The other thing which I took away from playing this level, is how this is an all new level. Being built up from the ground up, and each asset reinforces this.
Combat plays very much the same as it does in the base game; only, King Knight’s attack pattern is brand new. He attacks with a dash, and he is all movement based. Every motion and attack is meant to feel fluid. The other thing about this attack is how extra the sprite moves, almost showing the extravagant manner. The dashing is something which can be picked up very quickly but after a few tries. I was still adjusting to the learning curve it brings. It is almost as if these quick actions are meant to be stacked with enemies. Almost hitting a chain and acting on it in an instantaneous manner.
In this same vein, the game almost makes you utilize the space above you. This dramatically changes how you would typically proceed. Using the top space, makes you pay attention to the things which are underneath you as well. Enemies typically reside in both of these spaces, which puts you on a swivel. Typically varying per level, the game holds nothing back in making you understand this early on.
Other than this, the game has the typical armor upgrades and weapons upgrades. All of these benefit you, and the weapon upgrades bring in some variation to your play. Alongside these upgrades, you also get introduced to the new runes. Only two were available during my playthrough. One made you invincible for a couple of seconds, making you analyze the situation. Or taking you out of a bad situation to reevaluate before proceeding. The other new ability is one which strikes enemies to the ground in a flash and makes them vulnerable to your attacks. Both of these feel distinct to the character, and both are very effective in any situation.
There is no solid release date yet for the final expansion for Shovel Knight, but it is slated to come out sometime this year.