Thee shall beest a Fallen Knight if’t be true thee can’t fight
For those who played the Megaman Series, either Megaman Zero or Megaman X, a long time ago like me, Fallen Knight should bring back some good memories where you play as Zero or X and defeat numerous enemies and bosses with your swords, shields and blasters. Fallen Knight is a classic 2D platformer game from Thai-based developer FairPlay Studios, previously released on Apple Arcade and now available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The story revolves around two knights that have been assigned to prevent chaos by The Purge, a tale loosely based on the Arthurian legend and the Knights of the Round Table. In my opinion, the story is not that exciting as you’ll focus more on the gameplay. In this game, you will choose one of two knights, Lancelot or Galahad, and experience the same story with each; Lancelot goes first, while Galahad can be played in an alternative branch of the story. It’s best to pick Lancelot first to experience the whole main story because if you choose Galahad first, some parts of the story’s plot will be spoiled (the developers put a spoiler warning when you select it). It’s not only about the story; both knights come along with different game modes. While Lancelot here is played as the usual 2D side-scrolling platformer, it is different in Galahad’s case. Galahad’s Path brings you to more roguelike gameplay, where players only have one chance to complete the story. If you are defeated, you have to restart from the first stage, making Galahad’s path the hardest difficulty.
Let’s move on to the gameplay. Apart from Galahad’s Path, Lancelot’s run has three difficulty levels: Casual, Normal, and Boss Rush. Casual mode will give you an extra life and a more accessible experience, while Boss Rush is a mode where you battle only the bosses back to back with limited abilities. To unlock Boss Rush mode, you must complete the Casual or Normal path first. As previously mentioned, the gameplay mechanics are similar to other 2D platformers: run, jump, dash, and attack the enemy. However, one of the key features that make this game enjoyable is the parry mechanic. You can parry the enemies’ attacks and disarm their weapons no matter what kind of weapon they carry. Easier said than done, though. To execute the parry mechanic, you need to count the timing window of the attacks of each enemy, which is incredibly satisfying and adds points for upgrading specific abilities, BUT… It can also be frustrating because the timing is so finicky; the key to parrying and disarming the enemy is to look at the enemy’s eyes. When the enemy’s eye is blinking red, that’s the cue to press the attack button twice in a row! Alternatively, if you are more satisfied to extinguish your enemies rather than just parry and disarm, you can choose Galahad; instead, who assassinates his foes. It’s a different approach that uses the same controls as the parry mechanic. Both are incredibly satisfying once you know how to use them.
Like most platformer adventure games, there will always be a boss to defeat in each stage. You can either defeat it the usual way with your attacks or parry the boss’s attacks three times to deplete the ultimate counter for an instakill regardless of their health. There are six bosses to kill in the main story, and you can choose which boss you want to beat first. When you defeat a boss, you can unlock a new ability instantly, like reflecting blasters with your sword, dashing attack, etc. Each boss has its quirks and difficulties, and I had a tough time defeating them in normal mode. From a sniper to a rogue knight, and then a barehanded fighter, even a hacker, all of them are super grindy and difficult to beat, in a way. The level environments for each boss fight can reinforce the challenge, as they significantly vary in size and design.
Once you complete a stage, you will receive honour points which will only be awarded for defeated enemies and bosses. However, if you want more honour points, it is mandatory to use your unique skills when defeating them. Honour points can be used to upgrade specific abilities like double heal, improved parry, jump dash, or boosting your health and skill slots. In the in-game shop, to unlock a particular skill, you do not only have to spend several honour points; you need to defeat a specific boss to unlock specific abilities first. For Galahad’s path, in the beginning, you will be given random skills that you can choose for each session. If you’re defeated, all of the abilities you gained will be lost and reset again.
While the first version of Fallen Knight, when released, still had many issues that made this game receive mixed ratings on Steam, I want to give big props to the developer’s who always welcomed feedback and fixed the errors and bugs consistently until now. Language-wise, my only concern is that the English version of this game could still add some improvement grammatically. It may not affect the gameplay, but it’s a small detail that still needs improvement.
So, Fallen Knight, how is it? The potential is there; I love the unique mechanics of parrying and disarming slash assassinate, which makes this game shine and an improvement of the Megaman Series. However, there are still some issues that prevent a full recommendation. There is a specific bug where you cannot disarm the final boss and another bug where the boss disappears and does not return to the stage, so I have to restart the boss stage again. I think the bosses still need to be tweaked to be more balanced, even though the rewards are worth the grind. If you’re willing to grind and enjoy games like Hades or Dark Souls, this game might be fit for you. However, I wouldn’t recommend the current version until the game is more polished and fixes the issues mentioned above.
Fallen Knight is available to play on Steam, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Apple Arcade. This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher.