Shovel Knight – Plague of Shadows review (Vita)

Shovel Knight receives an expansion pack in the shape of Plague of Shadows – and makes an already excellent game even better, for free!

The Playstation Vita isn’t exactly loved by major publishers right now, but it has become a beacon for some excellent indie productions. We already reviewed gems like OlliOlli2 and Scram Kitty DX this year, but had previously missed out on Shovel Knight. Luckily, we’re getting a second chance now that Plague of Shadows has been released, a DLC addon for Shovel Knight.

Shovel Knight itself is a wonderful retro platformer in the best sense of the word. The art style, setting and gameplay all remind us of a time where games were simple in nature but fun to play – but with the added twist of modern day story/character development and excellent level design. Your main character is a noble knight, armed with – you guessed it – a shovel. He can use this to deal damage either by slashing enemies or landing on them, shovel first. In true knight fashion, you also find plenty of treasure, which you can spend on upgrading your abilities.

In Plague of Shadows, you look at a darker side of the story, assuming control of Plague Knight instead. Your main quest is to find a way to create an all-powerful potion that can grant any wish you have, and you do this by stealing the essence from various characters in the game and enlisting Mona’s help – another character from the original game.

plague knight

Plague of Shadows isn’t a direct follow-up or a completely separate chapter – you play though many of the same levels that Shovel Knight went through, but with a distinctly different flavor this time. Non player characters obviously treat you very differently, and the array of skills and weapons you have at your disposal are just as different. Where Shovel Knight was all about ‘in your face’ combat and the occasional ‘bounce of death’, Plague Knight is bomb thrower. These bombs aren’t a one size fits all weapon – they can be configured and upgraded throughout the course of the adventure.

Certain levels fit better with certain bomb configurations too, so you might opt for a bigger blast radius in one level while picking more throwing range for the next one. It’s a little less straightforward than the original Shovel Knight adventure was – and therefore perhaps a little less ‘retro’ – but it’s a fresh take on an excellent game and a great reason for playing through it again. On top of the major twists to the core adventure, you also get a few mini levels that serve as time trials – these have been specifically designed with Plague Knight in mind.

We haven’t even touched on the best part yet though…. Plague of Shadows is available for FREE for those who bought the original game. If you have Shovel Knight already then this is a must-download, and if you didn’t buy it when it came out then this is just another reason to pick up this game. It’s cross-buy too, so you can play it on the go with the Vita or on the couch with your PS3/PS4.

Score: 9.1/10

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