Knights and Bikes
PS4 version tested
Knights and Bikes is a co-op action-adventure by developer Foam Sword that takes inspiration from Secret of Mana and Earthbound spliced with a dash of classic movie The Goonies. I have been following this game since the original Kickstarter launch in 2016 and for full disclosure, I backed this game.
The story follows two characters, Nessa and Demelza, who are children growing up on the small island of Penfurzy just off the UK mainland. During the summer months, the area becomes a tourist hotspot with Nessa’s father owning the caravan site and Demelza happening to arrive on the last ferry for the year with food and supplies for the locals.
The game is exquisitely storied throughout and starts in the midst of a storm playing as Demelza. To get out the rain you head towards the nearest caravan for shelter which just so happens to be hitched to Nessa’s father’s car. The two meet as you are discovered in her hideaway and our story unfolds over six pivotal days littered full of beautiful moments between the pair as their relationship blossoms.
Quests are task-based and their first big adventure is to find a second bike for Demelza to ride, this becomes a very integral gameplay mechanic. As the story advances so do the requirements needed progress, it helps ground their bond and makes you care about all the characters. The game is magical, reminding me growing up in the eighties at the age of eight and having the imagination to dream up any adventure as the pair do in Knights and Bikes.
Set from an isometric view it has been designed with co-op in mind but can also be played single player by hot-swapping between the two characters. I predominantly played Knights and Bikes in single-player but playing co-op will open up a whole next level experience. There is a basic levelling system as you find upgrades for the bikes, taking stabilisers off will give you a boost, while unlocking new areas for exploration. Will the pair find the secret behind the lost treasure of Penfurzy island, thats down to you.
Foam Sword, the dev team responsible the game’s conception, is extremely small with only a handful of members listed. Even so, what they have managed to create is stunningly elegant and rich experience with an art style that is reminiscent of the excellent Tearaway with its papercraft aesthetic. This is in part because the team is made up of ex-Media Molecule devs who worked on Little Big Planet, Ratchet and Clank and of course the aforementioned Tearaway. That joyous core shines through and playing gives you that certain kind of whimsical feeling as you smile inside and out. And not to forget the audio that pairs with the visual. The soundtrack is excellent and I could listen to the music play in the background all day.
Knights and Bikes is simply great. I am thoroughly besotted by the game from the first concept pitch on Kickstarter to its actual release. I cannot recommend it highly enough and it is a project of pure passion. If you grew up in the eighties loving movies like The Goonies or Adventures in Babysitting you are sure to love this. The story is extremely heartfelt and beautiful keeping you entertained until the end with a gorgeous art style that is accentuated by the musical score. For the money this an exceptional way to use your credit, especially if you have children.
TBG Score: 9.5/10
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 27/08/2019
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Action, Adventure
Developer: Foam Sword
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Download link: PSN