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Why I’m Excited for Shovel Knight’s Final Campaign

With the release of King of Cards, Shovel Knight will have fulfilled all of its promises since the release of its kickstarter in 2013. King Knight’s campaign is the indie hit’s final encore, and though it’s sad to say goodbye, there’s a lot I’m excited about in the upcoming game.

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I recently came across an interesting theory that sorted the Shovel Knight games like this, according to what kind of stories they are:

  • Shovel of Hope—Epic
  • Plague of Shadows—Romance
  • Specter of Torment—Tragedy
  • King of Cards—Comedy

The last one is merely speculative, of course, but it would seem to fit the narrative. And while Shovel Knight has always included multiple elements from across genres, the story of King of Cards would seem to be an especially fun one. It’s tragic that one is essentially stealing kingdoms, but it’s hilarious when said king has a giant mech suit and when the thieving knight in question enlists the help of literal rats. King Knight has always been the goofiest of Shovel Knight characters and his campaign will likely be no different.

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But maybe more relevant is what I’m excited about in the gameplay of King of Cards. I’ve loved all of the Shovel Knight campaigns, but my favorite gameplay so far has been what we’ve seen in Specter of Torment. I love platforming combos, and Specter of Torment has plenty. King Knight also seems to have his own unique brand of getting around; his normal attack has even been replaced by a charge attack that forcibly launches him forward. While this means one needs to be more aware of placement, it’s also good for platforming, with charge attacks being used to bounce in the air, along with his downward pirouette to bounce off objects and enemies and across the level.

A handy tool available is what happens when you fall off a ledge, which instead of killing you takes three hearts and causes a flying rat to appear and save you. While this could be an armor ability, it could also be an additional platforming mechanic. King Knight would seem to be a little less agile than his counterparts, so it seems to be especially important to use what you can get. But King Knight looks especially tough to make up for it.

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King Knight of course has his own collectibles, but his own brand of Shovel Knight’s ‘Relics’ looks to be especially interesting. Called ‘Heirlooms’, a number of these items appear to reference in-game enemies. One item, for example, calls summons a lance with a horsehead that acts and looks quite similar to the Blitzsteed, an enemy first encountered in Pridemoor Keep in the previous Shovel Knight campaigns. My favorite Heirloom so far, however, is the Heart Hammer, an item that causes hearts to leap out of your enemies, which the player can then collect in order to heal. The Heirlooms are a nice nod to the history of Shovel Knight and they add to that fun, encore-like feel of the game.

As someone who loves card games too, I’m excited to see what King of Cards own card game will be. It’s a nice retro mechanic to include, and it’s certainly unique as far as Shovel Knight mechanics go.

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But maybe more than anything else, I’ve always loved the unique style of Shovel Knight. And King of Cards certainly promises more of that, with plenty of new lovable characters and a final, unique perspective of those we know and love already.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards will be released sometime in early 2018, as a standalone game and as a free update for owners of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove.

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