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Knights & Guns

Knights & Guns

Written by Russell Archey on 9/5/2022 for XONE  
More On: Knights & Guns

Who doesn’t like a good shoot-em-up now and then?  From the days of the arcade to present times if you’re constantly firing a barrage of bullets and other projectiles towards streams of enemies, it’s a nice way to just relax after a stressful day.  The problem is that a lot of shmups are kind of similar. A lot of the time it’s just scrolling from one side or end of the screen to the other. So what makes one shmup stand out over the other? Today I’m taking a look at Knights and Guns on the Xbox One to see if it can offer something that other shoot-em-ups don’t. 

The story for Knights and Guns starts out fairly standard. Monsters are invading the land and it’s up to you to stop them. This time, though, your trusty sword just won’t cut it. Instead we have this new-fangled thing called a gun where you pull a little lever and a projectile comes out. That means you can now take down the monsters from a distance instead of risking getting up close and personal. What’s more, there are several different types of guns at your disposal to take down the monsters in different ways. Each gun has its own properties, but we’ll get more into that in a moment. When you begin Knights & Guns, you can choose to either do the Campaign, Endless, or press Y for “more levels” with gives you two sets of ten levels each that you play through one at a time, unlocking a new level as you beat the previous one. A friend can join you in any of these modes for more fun, more guns, and more enemies. 

In the campaign, the first few stages act as the game’s tutorial and get you used to your abilities and the guns at your disposal. Knights and Guns is one of those games where you can only fire upwards, similar to games such as Buster Bros., but the knight can do more than just fire a gun. You also have the ability to jump and dash to the side, allowing you to more thoroughly dodge enemies. Dashing does use up stamina which will recharge rather quickly after a few moments. You’ll also get to fire several different guns to get used to how each one works, their pros and cons, and which ones feel best for you. After mowing down enemies for a few stages the campaign begins proper. 

At this point you’re introduced to a grid-like map where, as you progress, you’ll open up different paths to travel through. This means that you have a couple of options after completing a stage as to where to go next. Stages will typically consist of either defeating multiple waves of enemies or surviving for a few minutes, and some stages will grant you keys to open chests you’ll find on parts of the map. As you begin each stage you’ll have a weapon or two readily available for free, or you can choose to purchase one of a couple more powerful weapons instead for a bit of gold. It’s a good thing you gain plenty of coins in the intro stages because you will want to use those other weapons quite a bit. The reason for this is once you get into the game proper, the guns do a lot less damage than in the intro stages. 

Any of the guns you can start a stage with will have unlimited ammo; the only real drawback is you do have to reload when your clip is empty which can leave you vulnerable for a few moments, but it's nothing too terrible. Plus, you can still dash and jump so you can evade while reloading. As you defeat enemies you’ll charge a power meter that once full you can unleash a massive attack that will damage any nearby enemies and basically take out smaller ones entirely. Defeating enemies can also cause them to drop health pickups and even more powerful guns. These guns do have limited ammo and once it’s all used up you’re back to your normal gun, so you have to plan your shots wisely, but these special guns are a lot more powerful than the one you began the stage with. If you happen to run out of health you will die and can choose to continue the stage for the cost of one heart. 

Each stage will reward you with coins once completed and you’ll gain coins from defeated enemies. These can not only be spent on guns but also in the shop. Most of the items in the shop are purely “cosmetic” per-se such as music, enemy artwork, or scrolls which are basically more artwork and mini-movies you can watch that explain more about the game. The two useful things are potions and armor. Potions include Life (which gives you an extra life up to five), Power (which fills your power meter at the start of a stage), and a Key...because keys are apparently now potions I guess. Armor is exactly what it sounds like; you can buy new armor with varying stats to aid you in your quest. You only have a few options at the start but as you progress you’ll gain access to more and some of them can make a huge difference depending on your play style. As you dive deeper into the map you’ll want to take the stats of the different armor into consideration as a bit more defense can make all the difference. 

If you need a break from the campaign or just want to rack up some coins, you can check out Endless Mode. Here you can unlock several different stages to play, each with two to four weapons to choose from and gain a high score with. After you pick your stage and weapon you’ll fight through endless waves of enemies in an effort to gain a high score and bank as many coins as you can. Any extra lives and armor you have will carry over to Endless Mode so you can equip your best armor and stock up on lives at the shop before diving in. You can also choose the “More Levels” option on the main menu to play ten stages in each of two scenarios: The Dawn of the Expedition and Dark Portal. The stages work the same as in Campaign: choose your starting weapon (and spend some coins if need be), then destroy every enemy in front of you. 

I’ve always been a fan of these kinds of games as they’re simple, yet satisfying. Its fun to just unload onto hordes of enemies, and Knights and Guns is the same way. However, there are a couple of minor issues to mention. The first is that the stages are mostly vertical as opposed to those that scroll left and right. Because of this the camera is typically zoomed way back as to show the entire level, and this can make it a bit difficult to keep track of where everything is on screen, including yourself. I’ve taken quite a bit of damage over the course of my time with Knights and Guns purely because it was hard to see where I was at. Combine that with some of the foreground elements like plants and shrubbery blocking your view and it can be very easy to lose yourself, especially in the corners of a stage. Granted, with better armor you can withstand a few hits here and there, but it would be nice to see what exactly hit me. 

Beyond that though, Knights and Guns is a fairly solid game. I have read a few times where people have said that the game is repetitive or feels too much like an older arcade-style game. While I can understand the repetitiveness, I’m all for the arcade-style. A lot of the games I tend to enjoy are those styled after classic arcade games. As I stated earlier, Knights and Guns plays like Buster Brothers but with the ability to jump and dodge, which really works for me. Knights and Guns looks great and the soundtrack is decent. The controls can feel a bit slippery at times, particularly when jumping as you tend to have a bit of a floaty jump which you wouldn’t expect from a knight wearing heavy armor.

For ten dollars though, you’re getting quite a bit of content in terms of a lot of stages, several types of guns to use, a few different modes to play through, and the ability to have a friend join you for twice the knights-using-guns action. If you’re not into arcade-style shooters then this probably won’t be your cup of tea (or ale I suppose) as there's not really much to improve on the classic formula. If you’re into those types of games or just feel like shooting some monsters to pass the time, Knights and Guns may not add too much to the classic formula but is still worth checking out. 

Knights and Guns takes arcade-style shooters like Buster Brothers and adds a few things to make it unique. I can understand some people getting bored by the repetitiveness of the game and if you’re looking for something that majorly shakes up the genre, you likely won’t find it here. What you will find is a simple always-firing-upward shooter that lets you shoot monsters with several types of weapons, a campaign where you can take multiple paths to get to your final destination, and the ability to bring a friend along for the ride. For ten dollars, I’d say that’s a pretty solid deal.

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I began my lifelong love of gaming at an early age with my parent's Atari 2600.  Living in the small town that I did, arcades were pretty much non-existent so I had to settle for the less than stellar ports on the Atari 2600.  For a young kid my age it was the perfect past time and gave me something to do before Boy Scout meetings, after school, whenever I had the time and my parents weren't watching anything on TV.  I recall seeing Super Mario Bros. played on the NES at that young age and it was something I really wanted.  Come Christmas of 1988 (if I recall) Santa brought the family an NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I've been hooked ever since.

Over 35 years from the first time I picked up an Atari joystick and I'm more hooked on gaming than I ever have been.  If you name a system, classics to moderns, there's a good chance I've not only played it, but own it.  My collection of systems spans multiple decades, from the Odyssey 2, Atari 2600, and Colecovision, to the NES, Sega Genesis, and Panasonic 3DO, to more modern systems such as the Xbox One and PS4, and multiple systems in between as well as multiple handhelds.  As much as I consider myself a gamer I'm also a game collector.  I love collecting the older systems not only to collect but to play (I even own and still play a Virtual Boy from time to time).  I hope to bring those multiple decades of gaming experience to my time here at Gaming Nexus in some fashion.
These days when I'm not working my day job in the fun filled world of retail, I'm typically working on my backlog of games collecting dust on my bookshelf or trying to teach myself C# programming, as well as working on some projects over on YouTube and streaming on Twitch.  I've been playing games from multiple generations for over 35 years and I don't see that slowing down any time soon.
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