March 4, 2014
Are you looking for a small (300MB), cute looking, fun, MMORGP that you just get to bash things silly with little swords and or pets? Look no further than Spiral Knights! This game was developed by SEGA, so you know this game has to be at least decent. Oh, believe me it is. Oh, and it's free.
Not only is this game adorable, it's actually really well put together. The knights movements feel really fluid and the art style and coloring fit so nicely together that it really is a joy to look at. I've often caught myself staring at the background in the missions because of how interesting/beautiful they truly are. It goes to show that you don't have to have insane polygon counts to have a great time.
The premise is that you're a knight, a space one at that. You're looking for an energy resource to save your home-world, upon warping to the energy signature which turns out is an alien planet, your ship is suddenly attacked! All knights evacuate the ship and now you're stranded on this mysterious planet.
As trilling as that story is, you don't exactly start with nothing as that story would suggest. Even as you start there are base camps and shops and all sorts of interesting things to discover and explore! The missions are pretty straight forward, be warped to the designated area, kill all the things, promptly leave with your glory and loot. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
The controls are simple, the object of the game is straightforward and not challenging. At first. As you progress in level you'll find yourself having some real trouble as the challenging bits of the previous levels come into your current level in a really clever way to make your progress all that more difficult. Each mission is a puzzle that is to be solved and strategically approached as you head straight into battle, killing off often cutesy enemies. You'll often find yourself destroying blocks to find switches to open doors and other little puzzle elements that really tie the experience together. If this was a simple hack and slash button masher it would be boring really fast, but the added puzzles, give that nice little kick to make things all the more interesting. I mean if it wasn't, I wouldn't have spent 6 hours playing this game in one sitting.
Upgrading your weapons and armor is fairly simple in this game and as more weapons become unlocked the more interesting/cool looking they become (as to be expected of an MMORPG, right?). How you go about it is, collecting "heat" during your missions so that you can "forge" your weapon to a higher level, this unlocks perks for the weapon, however it usually looks the same. It's okay, you'll end up replacing that weapon for something nicer as it becomes unlocked anyway. Upgrading your current weapons and armor is crucial however, don't think because you'll be getting rid of them that you can tough it out through the missions, I would suggest that you upgrade them.
You also get these neat little pets in this game, I can't say I have been using it a whole lot but there are 3 types, with their own skills. Broken down simply, one is for attacking, one is a healer, one is a for stealth. You only get one so figure out what you want to use them for! Other than focusing on obtaining materials to upgrade them, I haven't done much with them. I can say at first they are pretty pathetic, but they kind of useful if you can figure out the proper time to use them and have leveled them up a few times. Easier said than done. They follow you around looking cute and later look pretty badass, so I mean there is incentive right there to try and level them up.
You can decide how difficult you want the game to be when selecting mission and you're not tied to a difficulty, you can choose each time as you choose your mission. Expert level means it'll be harder but it also gives you the most opportunity for loot. It was suggested that we are given more heat instead of "loot" per say, but we don't have any real solid evidence either way. The mission completion reward remains the same of course, however it's what you obtain during the missions that might be affected. These are just assumptions however, I can't say for certain. That being said, the difficult really sets the pace for how long the missions will last. If you want more causal gameplay, maybe you want to set it lower, if you really want to challenge yourself and die a bunch of times, go ahead and set it to expert, you rebel.
The only snag that we've run into with the game is the possible memory leak that occurs that often leads to some intense lag during missions. The lag is really brutal and can toss your character right into traps or right into enemies. It's a severe hindrance that we are hoping will be patched soon. This isn't to say that this problem occurs often, I think I only had to restart my game 2 or 3 times over a 6 hour period. In all honesty you should probably take a break after that long and stretch a bit, but even so closing down the game and restarting is actually really quick.
I will also go ahead and suggest installing this game on a Solid State Drive (SSD). The load times on the Hard Disc Drive (HDD) are noticeably longer, and given the small size of this game, it is well worth slamming onto your SSD if you have one. That being said, you can totally get away with playing this on a laptop if that's all you have.
There is a lot to do and explore in this game and it's free. Have at it!