By mau64 1 Comments
Steam has recently added several free-to-play games to their store that use in-game purchases to make money. Since my primary computer has been my Macbook, I was happy to see one of the initial five released ran on both PC and Mac and decided to give it a run with fellow Bitpuncher Rich Matney. Spiral Knights was a fun but confusing and flawed experience that gamers that might be scraped for cash could have fun with for a while but the difficulty ramps up to a point that I became frustrated and landed at my definite stopping point.
It might be my ignorance with these types of games but was confused from the beginning and needed some explanation as to what exactly was expected of me. When you first boot up, you start in the hub world which includes three main areas: the Arcade, the Bazaar, and the Town. The Arcade area transports you to the different levels to explore and level up. The Bazaar is full of shops and the town area is a local hangout but includes the Auction house that is always crowded with bargaining and trading whatever items the players collect during their travels through the Arcade.
I’ll start out first with the Arcade which is where most of the game takes place. You have several choices to start with which are different levels. It appears to not really matter which one you choose because the levels are random. The game plays like a top-down hack-n-slash that you can play with three friends. You can choose to leave your party open so random strangers can hop in and join you. Sadly though, having multiple people with you with lots of enemies slows down drastically making the game unplayable until the action slows down. Spiral Knights has all the addictive trappings including leveling your character and your weapons, collecting loot, and trading items with other players. If this is enough for you then you will really like this game but I honestly cannot comment on the story because either it’s hidden deep in conversations with NPC’s or it doesn’t exist. That’s bad since I’ve put a dozen hours intoSpiral Knights and cannot comment on this.
There is a lot going on with this game and makes it hard to keep track with at first but becomes easier to understand the more time spent with it. Your currency is called Crowns, you have energy and you level up with heat. Your currency is easy to understand; coins, or Crowns, are scattered around levels to collect. Your energy is handled quite differently. You are allowed 100 energy per 24 hours. When you complete a level, you head toward the elevator and go down a floor to the next stage. This costs 10 energy which doing some math would have you believe that you are allowed to travel 10 floors a day. Well, energy is a type of currency with bringing you back to life when you are defeated and doubles each time you die. What I mean is initially it might cost 2 energy to revive you but the second time you die it will cost 4 and continues to double. At one point going through levels reviving myself would have cost me 160 energy, which I did not have. Say hello to the in-game purchases. You can buy energy with actual money which becomes necessary to continue on with the game since some weapons cost over 100 energy to craft. You can trade in your Crowns for energy, but the price is staggering. It is possible to play this game without spending a dime, but it would take an amount of time that I don’t have to spend on Spiral Knights.
Once you complete a level, your heat is tallied along with all your loot collected and your crystals, which translates to more crowns. Your heat is what levels up your gear which goes to level ten. Also each piece of gear has a star rating which depending on what you have available can restrict you from visiting certain levels. Are you confused yet?
Plenty of decisions made in Spiral Knights confused me. The recipe system is completely redundant. You buy a recipe for a piece of armor or weapons, the you go into your inventory and “learn” it which makes it available to craft at various machines throughout hub areas. Why would they make me learn the recipe after I bought it? Also once you equip an item, you cannot sell it because it binds to you and only you can use. You end up lower level items in your inventory that you cannot sell or do anything with.
The art in Spiral Knights is okay but has a lot to poke fun at, especially with the enemy design. You fight things like squirrels, lizards, broke robots, and jelly cubes that range in different colors. You can’t really expect too much variety but always laughed when ferocious cubes came attacking me.
One cool idea that has a lot of people hooked is the auction house, which many MMO games have. I like the idea of having auctions of loot that I know I will not be needing and logging on the next day to see what all I was able to sell. I put about twelve hours into Spiral Knights and was thoroughly enjoying it until you enter the second set of levels. The difficulty spiked to the point where I would get through one level but then died enough times on the second floor where I ran out of energy and had to be transported back to the hub. The screen would fill with enemies and I would lose control of what I was doing due to slowdown. If myself and three others cannot get through the two levels in the second tier of levels without purchasing energy then I’m done with the game. I did buy energy at one point to craft a weapon that was over 100 energy, which means I had no choice but to spend money to continue. I guess I could grind an excessive amount of tier one levels but the payoff wouldn’t be worth the hassle.
I enjoyed my time with the game and if this sounds interesting then you will as well. I like the concept and the fact that it is completely free but the barrier of entering these later levels is not worth the hassle. Also the confusing jargon might be too much for some to understand and not return to the game. The looting is something that becomes addicting which might justify a couple dollars spent on the game from time to time for some players but I doubt I will be returning.
originally written for bitpunch.com