Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon Review — Dig Deep

For a character with only one official game release, Shovel Knight has certainly gotten around. The hero from Yacht Club’s retro adventure has appeared in countless other games, has been immortalized as an Amiibo, and enjoyed a healthy stream of DLC. Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon marks the first completely new game for the character since his debut. And though it’s a huge departure from the original action game, it expands on the franchise’s range with a clever blend of puzzle and rogue-lite mechanics. The result is one of the most inventive puzzle games I’ve played in years.

Right from the start, Pocket Dungeon’s core mechanics defy easy categorization. It’s a tile-matching puzzle game, but rather than a cursor, your character is its own tile on the board. You ram yourself into enemies to eliminate them, which means your own movement around the grid is a large part of the strategy. You’re often looking to eliminate large groups of enemies at a time, but you can just as easily take out single enemies to clear a path or create space for a larger clump. Enemies move whenever you move, but a timer ticks down and then they’ll move independently as well. Both you and your enemies have a series of tick-marks to signify your HP. Essentially, it’s a puzzle game that feels like an action game.

If all that makes Pocket Dungeon sound overwhelming, don’t worry; in practice it’s anything but. Yacht Club and Vine have done a masterful job of meticulously introducing how all of the pieces fit together so naturally that you hardly notice how much you’ve learned after the first handful of times playing. The fiendish simplicity of the mechanics starts to iterate on itself as you encounter new enemy types with special properties, like growing much stronger in groups or vanishing after the first strike until you hit something else. When you find items lying around the world, they’re immediately recognizable with short, pithy descriptions to cue you in on their functions.

Continue Reading at GameSpot

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