Switch version tested
Review code provided
With a very brief hint on what to expect from Bucket Knight, I was more or less sold on the idea that this looked like a fun platformer. Well, that viewpoint remains, but it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, nor as fun. But, let’s have a peek and see what it’s all about first of all.
Bucket Knight is a classic platform title with a colour palette from an overclocked ZX Spectrum. The visuals here are stripped down and are here to serve a purpose rather than wow. It’s clear who you are, what to do, and who the enemies are, but it does feel a little bare in places. The lack of a background image becomes apparent in the first few levels – once you find out how to start the game and leaves interpretation to your imagination more than anything. Bucket Knight is a no-frills platformer.
If there was a protest board or flag to hold that encourages players to find things out for themselves rather than being told all the time, then hand it to me, and I’ll happily wave it around. Bucket Knight opts for this model and will show, not tell, what you need to do. Well, that is the concept, but it doesn’t translate that well as it wasn’t clear what the image select screens meant other than the level select and there’s no subsequent guides or tooltips to inform on what to do. In the material that precedes the game, one of the features was the lack of text. This in itself would be a standout point, but for Bucket Knight, it would be desirable for a bit of direction on what the different options mean.
In the title, you play a knight destined to locate the Holy Grail and in the process, loot any sort of treasure available. This often means shooting baddies, jumping on platforms to run through some coins to bank for later. Rather than purchase an elusive yacht or invest in an upcoming tech startup, all your money goes towards buying new weapons, but it takes an age to unlock, and you could probably finish the game in a sitting or two with the default gun. Despite the short time it takes to complete Bucket Knight, I’d be surprised if most stick it out to unlock a new arsenal.
It’s a typical platform affair; navigate through a few traps, take out some enemies and obtain a key to progress to the next level. The goal of most levels is to get past a blockade of some sort. In most cases, you can speed run through a level without killing or collecting anything, but the idea is to take out one enemy at a time. Often their patterns are predictable, and you can perform a simple jump and shoot approach as they will aimlessly shoot to the left or right but without any other direction. Stand on a platform below them and jump between projectiles and that’s it: strategy achieved.
Going into most games without any expectations is a fair approach, but you can’t help but want a triple-A title to be as good as the price tag you paid. While these indie titles don’t break the bank, your time is invaluable (at least tell yourself that), and although Bucket Knight won’t be interfering with you walking the dog or eating three meals a day, you’d like to think that it has enough appeal to keep playing. Sadly, it doesn’t. There isn’t enough variety or dare I say, fun involved that encourages repeat plays. Though I didn’t hate Bucket Knight – it’s far from a bad game, it’s just somewhat uninspiring and lacks any selling points for it to stand out in an overcrowded genre.
The controls are simple enough, and your character behaves in a timely fashion. If this were an 8-bit title you played from yesteryear, then there would be that element of nostalgia and having played it in the past, all the flaws are dismissed as it reminds you of your childhood. As a new title, it doesn’t have that same connection so needs to make an impact early on. Bucket Knight doesn’t do that and instead seems like a run-of-the-mill platform game without many distinguishing features. It always pains me to give a negative appraisal on a title as I’m sure a lot has been sacrificed to make these titles, but as an end-user, I can’t share the enthusiasm as overall, the game felt quite flat.
Let me reiterate: Bucket Knight isn’t a bad game, but considering we’re spoilt for choice with some much better platform titles on the Switch, I can’t endorse this as a must buy, at the same time, I’m against discouraging you from buying it – you may like it more than I do. One element that needs to be addressed though is the respawn/repeat button. Play the game without getting hit then inadvertently hit this button as you’ll restart the level. The point of this completely escapes me as if you die, the reloading of the level is swift, so I don’t understand why it was included. In my experience, I would be running along and shooting everything in sight, jump up to the next platform but instead teleport back to the beginning with all enemies respawning. If Bucket Knight were a racing game and you needed to respawn on the track, I’d get it. In a platform game where everything becomes a clean slate? Pointless.
It’s impossible to have a track record of games scoring 8 out of 10 as there eventually won’t be any titles to make the comparison whether something is good or bad. It’s of course relative, but Bucket Knight falls short of being a top platformer and hovers above average as there aren’t any standout points that make this a must-have for your collection.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 28/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Platform, Shooter
Publisher: Sometimes You
Download link: eShop