The Legend of Zelda franchise has been close to my heart since I was a child. I loved the adventure, characters, story, and combat. When the series transitioned to 3D, I was blown away. For over two decades, I’ve been obsessed with the genre. So when A Knight’s Quest came along, I was desperate to play it. While there are a lot of admirable aspects in the adventure title, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. So much about A Knight’s Quest provides the recipe for success but never fully hits the mark.
The basic premise is simple; our hero Rusty triggers a mysterious crystal that will soon bring doom to his kingdom. To save his hometown, Rusty must obtain three spirit powers that can combat the evil force within the crystal. At the start of his adventure, Rusty is equipped with a sword and shield. Throughout the journey, he unlocks weapons and abilities linked to other elements, such as wind, fire, and ice.
Combat should be the biggest gameplay aspect, but it’s what makes A Knight’s Quest fall flat. Combat is unresponsive, lackluster, and quite boring. The developers try to switch things up by adding in various enemies. Initially, Rusty can attack enemies with his weapons, but then everything switches up when elements come into play. Some enemies are enveloped in a color linked to a specific element. To hurt those foes, you need to attack them with the corresponding magic attack. Normally, it’s not an issue, but when there are a lot of enemies on screen, the difficulty ramps up. Combat is not that intuitive, so when you are forced to fight a large group of enemies at once, it amplifies the flaws in that mechanic. I yelled at the screen many times when bombarded by countless skeletons in forced combat situations.
One aspect that A Knight’s Quest excels in is the writing. While the story itself isn’t particularly memorable, the dialogue is hysterical. The script parodies genre tropes and features plenty of memorable characters with genuinely laugh-out-loud funny moments. It didn’t matter how frustrated I got; the writing always made me smile.
Puzzles are smartly designed and often had me flexing the muscles in my brain. They were never unfair or too complicated but were an acceptable challenge that never became frustrating. Actually, puzzles were a nice deviation from the combat and the open world that sometimes felt unnecessarily large. For an open-world game, A Knight’s Quest felt quite dull. Enemies are roaming around, there are collectibles to find, and places to explore, but I never felt the desire to search everywhere. Despite the bright colors and visuals, the open-world felt lifeless and generic.
Boss battles in adventure games are usually epic and challenging. A Knight’s Quest takes boss battles and makes them a slog. Since the combat doesn’t feel responsive against normal enemies, boss battles feel a lot worse. There’s no satisfaction when hitting baddies. The lack of rumble when fighting, and the weird hit detection ruins the experience where it should matter most. A Knight’s Quest works best when you’re doing fetch quests for random people, and doing platforming. The platform sections, particularly the grinding and race sections, are among the best part of the game. If Rusty’s adventure mostly consisted of jumping, traversal, and sidequests, I would’ve loved the game so much. Traversal is a mix of Super Mario Bros, Prince of Persia, and Sonic the Hedgehog. It works so well that it’s a shame the overall experience is bogged down with other mechanics that aren’t fleshed out.
Xbox One owners don’t have much luck when it comes to Zelda styled games on the console. With A Knight’s Quest, Sky 9 Games attempts to give Xbox One players an experience that mixes old-school adventure with new-school ideas. On the surface, A Knight’s Quest should be a fantastic adventure. It features combat, an excellent cast of characters, great writing, and stellar puzzles. The problem is that as a whole package, something is missing. The open-world feels lifeless and dull, which is an absolute shame. With my issues, I can’t deny that there are some charming moments to be had. Those looking for a Zelda-like experience may find a lot to love with A Knight’s Quest, but I would personally wait for a sale before embarking on this adventure.