Knights And Bikes Preview at EGX Rezzed
I walked away from my Knights and Bikes play session at EGX Rezzed stiff and smiling. Smiling because the co-op adventure game from Foamsword studios is the gorgeous, heartfelt and joyous game I hoped it'd be and stiff because I played the 20 minute demo sat on a bike made for a six year old.
That's what Knights and Bikes is all about, though. Igniting the dormant child within all of us. Playing the PS4 build with my knees up to my ears only accentuated my adult physicality however my genuine laughter and playful conversation with developer Moo Yu was for more note-worthy.
Yu was previously a gameplay programmer for LittleBigPlanet and Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction so evoking a feeling of wonder and feels-targeting playfulness wasn't out of his wheelhouse when he began on K+B. The game was funded largely through Kickstarter and surpassed all the goals the team had dreamt of.
As a result, the game is currently being tweaked and polished to make sure that, not only does it play well, it feels right - which was what the majority of the conversation I shared with Moo was about.
We played a short but lush co-operative demo (Moo informed me that you can play on your own but for a game about friendship, it's recommended to get a pal involved) and I was immediately taken with how familiar the world feels. The landscapes are rich in lush, paper-art textures enhanced by these exploration animations as backgrounds literally and seamlessly fold to become foregrounds.
You play as Nessa and Demelza (a popular Cornish name) as you try to find out why your parents are missing. The two young girls' personalities animate the world around them as Nessa is bold and pragmatic while Demelza, the younger of the two, provides the naivety and blind bravery.
The combat is collaborative and fast-paced. Your main attack is based on your assigned equipment so my arsenal consisted on water balloons, Moo’s of wellies. It's a fast-paced RPG-style combat system with counters popping up as you inflict damage. You can unleash combination attacks against ‘baddies’ by combining your special abilities. I would drop a large water-balloon in order for Moo to use his welly stomp to cause a massive area of effect attack. It sounds epic - but it's actually really cute.
The 'baddies' themselves are anthropomorphic flowers and books - the kind of enemies only children have. This led to a discussion about the paradox of childhood fears. When we're kids our textbook fears are irrational - I have memories of cowering at radiator rumbles and feeling vampirates pinching my toes in my sleep. However, and this is something Knights and Bikes nails the tone on, kids also have more mature and complex fears even if they can't articulate them. The fear of abandonment and isolation; that no-one likes you and you deserve to be alone.
Friendship is the main inspiration for Knights and Bikes. Nessa and Demelza find strength in their bond as they work together to overcome meanies, compete with each other and explore a world that should be afraid of the power of their childish intrigue.
Also, the bike pedalling mechanics are bloody great.