|Main title screen of Knight Speed
|8 Dec 2023
Endless Examples of Endless Runners
Endless Runners are nothing new. In fact, if you wanted to go back far enough, they technically came about during the earliest era of video games in the 1970s and 80s. SkiFree which was released on Windows 3.0 in 1991 is technically an endless runner.
In recent history though, the endless runner was popularised in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Games like 2009's Doodle Jump and Canabalt on mobile devices made the genre accessible to the masses and this was followed by many very successful clones such as 2010's Robot Unicorn Attack, 2011's Temple Run and 2013's Flappy Bird. The genre even made its way into the Pac-Man franchise with the most excellent Pac-Man 256 which was released on Steam in 2016.
|In this shot, a group of enemies are about to be struck by an arrow
An Archer in Shining Armour
Okay, so the modern version of the endless runner has been around for over a decade and this year we get to experience yet another called Knight Speed. Developed by a studio called Override, in Knight Speed you play the role of a knight in platemail jumping from rooftop to rooftop in a medieval town, apparently escaping some other knights that you'll sometimes encounter on the very same rooftops. Why you're clad in platemail and jumping from rooftop to rooftop seems rather foolish but your character is armed with a bow which they can use to rain arrows on any enemy knight they come across. The longer you survive, the higher your score.
The controls for Knight Speed are easy to learn. Pressing the spacebar will make the knight jump, which is crucial when you're leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Falling down between one of the buildings is game over. Jumping also allows you to shoot arrows which you do by aiming with the mouse and clicking. You'll need to fire arrows at any enemy knights you encounter since if you jump and land on them it also means game over. Thankfully, it seems you only need to aim within the vicinity of the enemy knights in order for the arrows to connect so you don't need to be super precise.
|When you die, the game will give a ranking as well as a score and the number of enemies you killed.
Before We Call It a Knight...
As far as endless runners go, the game functions as intended and I can confirm that playing alongside a four year-old is a blast (he was giggling every time the knight fell to their doom). There are various ways the game can be improved though.
Firstly, sometimes it seems the game doesn't register fail states. There'll be times where I've hit an enemy knight but I'm still able to jump . It's a minor quibble since ultimately, you'll die a matter of seconds later anyway, but it can be rather confusing at times.
It's also just hard in general to know when you die since the game only has one looping track of medieval music for its audio: there are no sound effects, just visual cues. A dying sound effect or the sound of your arrows hitting enemies would've been useful, giving the player aural cues in addition to the visual ones.
The game isn't integrated with Steam Leaderboards and Achievements which I think is a shame since games like this which feature high scores are just begging for these kind of features. How good would it be to see how well you've done compared to friends and the general public? The Steam version of Canabalt does a good job of this and should be used as an example to emulate.
Finally, the graphics look like placeholder graphics. Yes, graphics don't maketh the game but it looks like they were all made in MS Paint and I think the game could benefit with a facelift.
|While the graphics are functional, it could do with a facelift
A functional endless runner where you play a knight that can dispatch foes by firing arrows while jumping. It could do with some improvements with respect to audio, artwork and Steam integration but otherwise, it's a solid game.
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DISCLAIMER: A review copy of this game was provided by Override