Even the most mundane things can seem full of mystery and adventure as a child, especially if you have a like-minded friend to get ideas and stimulate your imagination. Knights & Bikes channels this familiar kid’s experience into a significant cooperative (but you can still play it solo) adventure that remains endlessly charming, even if the essential mechanics aren’t part of it. This is our Knights And Bikes Review.
Knights And Bikes Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Linux, macOS, Macintosh
- Developer: Foam Sword Games
- Publisher: Double Fine
- Genres: Action-adventure game
- Release Date: August 27, 2019
Knights And Bikes Review: Official Trailer Video
Knights And Bikes Review: Gameplay
Nessa is a stowaway on a boat that has just docked on the holiday island of Demelza. Soon the two girls meet, and that way, only children can do it and become close friends almost immediately. Nessa is slightly older and seemingly an orphan; Demelza lives in the island’s caravan park, run by her single father, who struggles to keep the business going. The pair seize the opportunity to escape each other’s imaginations, embark on a grand adventure to recover the island’s legendary buried treasure and, in hopes, use Demelza to reverse her father’s financial misfortune.
The girls may have a treasure map to guide them, but it’s not as easy as the realization that X marks the spot. Traveling through the city is a challenge. Nessa and Demelza can run – and if you hold down the Run button, they do what kids do, spreading their arms like wings and shouting “Vrrrrrrrmmmm!” as if they were a plane flying through the air – but it is often not entirely clear where to run. Fortunately, Demelza’s goose, Honkers, has a good nose for direction and will run away in the right direction, honking his heart when the girls fall behind.
Early on, Nessa and Demelza buy the bikes of the same name that allow them to ride across the island much faster than on foot. The bikes can also be upgraded with all kinds of handlebar grips, paint jobs, spoke trim, and so on. All of these are purely cosmetic, except for one – a specific set of wheels that allow the girls to traverse pools of mud that would otherwise block their progress.
Cycling around the island is exceptionally entertaining in and of itself, not because it’s especially interesting to navigate the many criss-cross paths that connect the handful of major sights, but because the presentation is such a great job of capturing the carefree desolation that these girls feel. You stomp to pedal and build momentum and then hold down the button for a brief burst of extra speed, while the girls drool and whine and, it must be said, don’t necessarily obey strict road safety procedures.
Their adventure takes them from the caravan park to a mini-golf course that doubles as a historic battle, to a maze-like junkyard that turns into a terrifying dungeon with seemingly no way out; to a walking path through the forest that meanders and returns to itself in the form of other, more famous Lost Woods. At every step, the girls infuse the world with an unjustified but understandable miracle. The history book read by the local librarian is full of clues as to the whereabouts of the treasure. The old bearded man is most likely a wizard. And any setback they encounter is a sign of the terrible curse that plagues the island.
The consensual hallucinations of the two girls are, for the most part, light and airy, wearing them head over heels in one exciting scrape after another. Their humor is infectious and their bonds of friendship, forged so quickly into the fire of fantasy, never hesitate. They are both such beautifully written characters, throw one-liners at each other, and build on the other’s witty invention. And they are vividly expressive, any new close-up of their comically twisted faces frozen in shock, disgust, awe, or cunning realization will always put a smile on your lips.
Where Knights & Bikes falter at the moment to moment, the loose battle and light puzzles that connect the chair of the pants, sprint through childhood curiosity. Each girl will find three outfits throughout the game, and these are used to repel enemies and negotiate numerous environmental puzzles. For example, Nessa’s water bombs can be thrown to deal damage to enemies, put out fires, and, when split in a puddle on the ground, conduct electricity.
But fighting is usually trivial. Enemies aren’t particularly hard to beat, and the girls can heal each other, as long as they’re fed up with the bandages that are always in abundance. Combat has the same throbbing energy that permeates the rest of the game, so it’s fun to work your way through the buttons. But it is never interesting enough to look forward to. There were a few occasions when I had to pause to think about what to do next to progress. And I always enjoyed watching the next nonsensical event after solving a puzzle, even if I wasn’t still sure what I was trying to achieve. Usually, I just chuckled and wondered what would happen next.
It is noteworthy that for a game designed for two-player cooperative play (local or online), it works well when played solo. Here you can switch between the two girls whenever you want, and the capable AI takes control of the other. In battle, the AI-controlled girl will use her skills effectively and, even more impressive, when needed to solve a puzzle, she will cleverly go to the right place and perform whatever it takes. Also, if you don’t have a cooperative partner, you don’t miss much.
Knights and Bikes review was created by a small team of different people who have worked on LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway, and you can feel that all of these games share a similar creative vision. There is a kind of wide, rough, and tumbling adventurous spirit that runs through all three games and is hard to resist. Knights & Bikes is a wonderfully warm, effortlessly inviting experience that will make you feel young again.
Knights and Bikes channels this familiar kid’s experience into a significant cooperative adventure that remains endlessly charming, even if the essential mechanics aren’t part of it.