KNIGHTS AND BIKES
Charming like a pasty.    


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
16/09/19

Exploring the island of Penfurzy is a joy, thanks to snappy combat and those titular bikes. Mechanically, it’s a winner.

The lack of voice acting is really disappointing, as the script is superb. But the soundtrack is wonderful!

Although you do have the option of playing solo alongside an A.I. controlled companion, this is all about co-op.

Hand drawn detail is a sight to behold, along with some of the best animation I’ve seen in a game for a long time.  

THE LAST WORD

Knights and Bikes is a gorgeous, heartfelt adventure, with superb
co-op mechanics.  

THE FINAL SCORE

4/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

4 out of 5 is GREAT.

A positive, varied experience, with plenty of reasons to invest. Even if it’s just shy of perfection.

*Reviewed on PS4, with a copy provided by Double Fine / Foam Sword.*


The JUST ONE MINUTE MAN badge is for a game that keeps making you come back for just one more go.

The PICK N’ MIX badge is awarded for a game that has a wide variety of things to do, and / or continually presents new mechanics / ideas.


The BREAK THE TARGETS badge is for a game that has excellent side quests and/or optional missions and activities.

The LOOT ON THE ROOT badge is for a game with lots of different collectibles, items, and other bits and pieces.

The MAYORAL ELECTION badge is for a game filled with high pressure moments that put your skills to the test.  

The NINTENDOG SHIT badge is for a game with a specifically excellent dog and / or other pet companion.

The SEA OF THIEVES badge is for a co-op game that is truly memorable.


IS IT FUN?

*You betcha.*

Nessa and Demelza both have unique abilities that can be combined to perform more powerful attacks. These are gradually unlocked throughout the course of the game. There’s a lot of fun to be had messing around in this sandbox, and experimenting with the impact of their respective move sets. Foam Sword have gone to great pains to make them feel grounded, with wellies, frisbees, and even a videogame ‘power glove’ all being imbued with fantastical powers, whilst still retaining a connection to reality. Throw in the fully upgradeable and customisable bikes (which are a joy to ride), and you’ve got a well balanced mix of exploration and combat. When you first discover how to recover health by high fiving each other, or the realisation that a goose will poop as soon as its been fed, the penny will drop; this game is a charmer.

Knights and Bikes endears itself from the off, presenting two lead characters that revel in the absurdity of their own imaginations. Their adventure is equal parts distraction from reality, and an exploration of a child’s innate ability to personify literally anything. You’ll pick up trusty companions along the way, including a goose [brilliantly] named Captain Honkers, and a mysterious severed head named ‘The Pickled Knight’. The hand drawn graphics are a sight to behold, and are filled with flourishes that make a world of sense given the Foam Sword team’s previous stint as developers on Media Molecule’s Tearaway. There’s puddle splashing, evil demolition trucks, an old school record shop, a trip round the local pitch and putt, British references aplenty, and at the core of it all, a story about loss and family.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*So many. Thank jebus for the co-op support.*

Knights and Bikes would be a perfect fit on Switch, but that’s a conversation for another time. Repeatedly. Until the port gets announced. For now, we have a PS4 and PC release that absolutely shines in either local or online co-op play. You drop in, pick up where you left off, and get cracking. No excessive load screens. No locked out functionality until a certain story beat has played out. Playing this with my fiance was a blast. She and I particularly enjoyed the spontaneous competitive mini games; there’s bike races, target smashing, and even a button mashing brawler in Demelza’s caravan… a game within a game! Every new quest presents something new, and ties intrinsically with the story. I won’t spoil the specifics, but there’s a heart wrenching moment within the first couple of hours during the golf course sequence that was very effective.

Captain Honkers is the best supporting character in a video game this generation. Hands down.

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Set phasers to nitpick.*  

The most glaring thing for me is the lack of wide spread voice acting support. Certain secondary characters are fully voiced [weirdly], but the lack of spoken dialogue for Nessa and Demelza is a real shame. Particularly as the writing is so good! It’s likely this was a missed stretch goal (Knights and Bikes is a Kickstarter funded project), but still, there’s a lot of story content here. The game relies on cutscenes quite a bit, and there were so many moments where I wanted to hear how the characters would express themselves. Other than that, I’m finding it extremely difficult to pick this one apart! The only other real negative worth noting (and even then, it’s fairly unremarkable) is the sprint noises the girls make. At first, very sweet. After a while, it becomes a tad annoying.

NEXT STEPS?

*Double down on this approach.*

The aforementioned Switch port is a given. It would be the perfect game for that platform. It kinda feels like a Nintendo title already! Certainly in terms of tone and art style. In broader terms, Foam Sword have described themselves as making games about ‘friendship and co-operation, with lots of character, art and heart!’. They certainly achieved all of that, and then some, with Knights and Bikes, which charts an exciting course for the future. Although I’d love to see some kind of campaign expansion, or perhaps smaller, downloadable quests that introduce unique game mechanics, I think it’s more likely that Rex and Moo (the two man team behind the game) will set their sights on a new IP. I’m happy to be proven wrong though! A full blown Knights and Bikes 2 would be a welcome reveal.

THE BASICS - Co-op adventure / puzzler, with hand drawn graphics.     

PLATFORMS - PS4, and PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 2, Online - 2

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - The entire single player campaign is playable in both local or online co-op.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - Nothing announced.  

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

This is every bit as beautiful in motion as you’d expect.

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