Last Knight’s creator, David Hagemann, has a working history as a game artist, which comes as no surprise when you see the game in action. The visuals are possibly the greatest strength here, with everything looking frankly phenomenal, especially for an indie game. The cartoony leaning to the graphics works well, giving both knight and steed a great deal of personality. Galloping through vivid backdrops of scenic medieval battlegrounds is a visual treat, with animations remaining smooth and natural even at a breakneck pace, and the ragdoll animations are genuinely fantastic. Jousting collisions feel punchy and impactful, as rival knights are flung off their horses with limbsflailing.
Full-on obstacle crashes have your horse’s spindly legs crunching and contorting in a nasty-looking clash. Be it positive or negative, you feel every impact. It’s not so simple as to send you hurtling every time you touch an obstacle though, with some element of real-world collision logic applied. A glancing shoulder blow off a rock might not necessarily upend you entirely, but be enough to momentarily unbalance you as you gallop onward. A neat little touch.
Even if, like me, you’re not a massive PC gamer or au fait with keyboard and mouse control schemes, Last Knight won’t present much of a challenge for your weak, console-pampered hands. For the most die-hard of pad users there is the option to simply plug in an Xbox controller, but it is telling that I – someone who would typically jump at such a chance – didn’t bother. This is likely due to the simplicity of the game’s controls, a convenient by-product of the fact that Last Knight is also on iOS, and as such must be straightforward enough to play using touchscreen swipes and taps.
I can imagine, in some ways, that Last Knight may feel more at home on mobile than PC. Everything is quick – quick runs, quick deaths, quick restarts – perfect for filling gaps and killing time like the best mobile games are. However, whether this translates to a great PC game experience, something you’d want to sit and play for long periods, is more questionable. It’s a perfectly delicious gaming snack, but perhaps not a full meal.
The genre with which Last Knight shares much of its DNA is the free-running platformer, a formula popularised by the touchscreen generation. However, to call it just another free-runner is to do it a disservice. Thematically and creatively – and certainly in terms of pure charm and likeability – Last Knight is head and shoulders above almost any other I can think of. While many free-runners have only a single near-infinitely intensifying level, tasking you to evade death for as long as possible before you’re inevitably struck down, Last Knight works in a more traditional – and ultimately more rewarding – way with structured levels, checkpoints, and the introduction of new elements as you progress.
A steady supply of new beasts to either avoid or lance keeps things fresh. To offer more lifespan, there is also an unlockable Endless Mode, which turns the game into something more akin to your standard endless runners, like Temple Run but with infinitely more charm. However, by the time the brief campaign had ended I was sated. Getting stuck in to an ever-evolving endless mode to see how far I could get just wasn’t appealing anymore, although yet again I feel like it’d be more well-suited and appealing on a mobile platform.
With Sony on their all-consuming rampage to grab a slice of every promising indie title, Last Knight is a game I’d love to see on Vita. Those visuals would be a perfect accompaniment to the handheld’s gorgeous little screen, and I’d probably be willing to commit more time to it on the go.
VERDICT: As it stands, as a PC game, Last Knight remains good fun. The production values are top-notch, especially for a game that comes with such a low price tag. However, while I’m not normally one to criticise lifespan, especially in a low-priced game, something about Last Knight just didn’t keep my interest long enough to make it a truly great recommendation.
In between the visual brilliance and the interesting, well-realised theme, something just didn’t quite click. If you have an iDevice, I’d heartily recommend picking it up for £1.49 on the App Store, as it offers a lot more involved experience than the majority of endless runners. As for the PC version, as long as you’re going into it expecting nothing more than some quick-fire fun in short bursts, your £3.99 will be money well spent.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.