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May 26, 2017 / Jett

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment Review


Following the success of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games released Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows. It was a free downloadable campaign that allowed you to play through the existing levels as Plague Knight. While I appreciate the level of effort that went into making the Plague Knight experience differ, it came at the cost of Plague Knight not being as fun of a character to play as.

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment seems to have learned from the mistakes of the past. This time, you play as a new character that moves with a fluidity that Plague Knight sorely lacked. You also get to use this new character in heavily revised levels that are tuned to match their play style. One could even argue that the end result might be better than the original game.

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment takes place before the events of the first game. In it, you play as Specter Knight, whose been tasked with forming the Order of No Quarter for the Enchantress in exchange for gaining your life back. Of the three games, I think this one is the weakest of the bunch, though it serves its job of being a compelling enough narrative to drive you through.

Unlike Plague Knight, coming to grips with how Specter Knight handles is a breeze. He moves and fights a lot like Shovel Knight with one key distinction. When Specter Knight attacks in mid-air, he performs a diagonal dive attack. Depending on where you are in relation to your target, he’ll either dive upwards or downwards.

All of the level designs and bosses have been revised to make great use of Specter Knight’s unique abilities. I appreciate the effort, as it makes for a tighter gameplay experience overall while limiting the weird imbalances that came with simply dropping Plague Knight into levels designed for a different character.

One aspect of the game that might be hit-or-miss is that Specter of Torment is short. I beat Shovel Knight and Plague of Shadows in about five hours, but I was able to blaze through Specter of Torment in three. Part of that change comes from a different world structure, as the game doesn’t have the side levels of the previous two entries. I also found the game to be a touch easy, in part due to how good his diving slashes are against big enemies.

As of now, you can get Specter of Torment as a standalone game on the Nintendo Switch, or grab it as part of the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Edition. New players should definitely play the original first, but for everyone else, Specter Knight’s campaign is a worthwhile venture.

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