Specter Knight, one of the fallen knights of the Order of No Quarter that Shovel Knight faces in his journey to defeat the Enchantress and save Shield Knight, gets his own turn in the spotlight in Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment. Available currently on the Nintendo Switch, and coming soon as a free expansion to owners of the main game, players take on the role of the Scythe-wielding specter as he journeys to recruit those who would serve the evil Enchantress.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Developed and published by Yacht Club Games
Available on the Nintendo Switch.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is a prequel that reveals how the Order of No Quarter came to be, with players taking on the role of the mysterious Specter Knight. While fans of the series know who’s who when it comes to the cast of players, learning how it all came to be before the events of Shovel Knight is pretty pretty fun, and discovering Specter Knight’s past is quite enlightening. The simple story does a great job at further developing the unique world Yacht Club Games has created.
The gameplay is also solid, building upon the excellent foundation of the main game to create a deep and challenging experience. Once again players travel through various 2D stages (many of which have appeared before) platforming, avoiding obstacles and slaying small enemies on the path to each stage’s main boss. The biggest change of course is that Specter Knight controls differently, adding a fresh take on the experience.
Despite wielding a large scythe, Specter Knight is much more agile than the previously playable Shovel Knight and Plague Knight. He can briefly run up walls and climb them if he reaches the lip, and he can also attack while in the air with a special dash, ripping his way through enemies, objects and special attacks to climb higher or lower and gain momentum. This adds a whole new element to the platforming, requiring players to quickly react as they wallrun and dash across dangerous chasms and spikes. This also affects combat as well, with enemy boss encounters playing out differently as players make use of the new skills to damage foes from different angles. The game feels quicker than previous Shovel Knight experiences, which is a welcome touch.
The rest of the game plays out similarly, though it’s no less fun and challenging. Once again players collect money and cross checkpoints that save their progress, but death means dropping large amounts of cash. Failing at returning to pick it up means that it’s lost forever, so players must carefully navigate the environment in order to get it back. Players will also collect hidden skulls (replacing music sheets and relics from the previous entries) and Wisp Chests that will increase Specter Knight’s health and magic (known here as Will and Darkness).
Outside of stages, players explore the Tower of Fate, which acts as the hub world. Here players can unlock Curios (which act as relics and arcana) using collected skulls that give Specter Knight a slew of additional abilities that help out quite a bit, like throwing a scythe that runs along surfaces, a skull that heals Will, and a melee attack that homes in on enemies. Players can also purchase armor with unique properties, as well as upgrade Curios for stronger effects.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment’s campaign isn’t as long as the main game, but it’s longer than the Plague Knight expansion. The game features eleven stages to traverse, many of which are familiar, but the layout is changed up in order to accomodate Specter Knight’s moveset. The game also brings a challenging New Game Plus, as well as new Feats and a challenge mode.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is ultimately a fantastic and welcome addition to the series. The stages are well designed and Specter Knight is a wonderful character to play as, and while the campaign isn’t as robust as the main game, it’s tons of fun from start to finish.