Knight ‘n’ Grail (C64)

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Summary

A superb arcade adventure that excels on some many fronts with it outstanding production values – this is one of the all time greatest for the C64.

Overall
96%
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User Review
4.29 (7 votes)

The Commodore 64 game scene has undergone a somewhat of a renaissance in respect to the release of new quality titles with original IP. Knight ‘n’ Grail would have kicked off this phenomena when it was originally released back in 2009, with its high production values and engrossing gameplay. Eleven years on and we thought it might be time for a retrospective review of the game for those of you who might have missed the game upon its initial release.

The backstory to Knight ‘n’ Grail involves a knight who is on a quest to find a magical grail in order to lift a curse that has transformed his beloved into a dragon like creature. In order to find the grail, the Knight will have to explore a large castle, navigating through its vast number of sections, avoiding enemy creatures, working out how to get through locked doors and collecting power ups along the way.

As you start your exploration through the game’s colorful flip screens, you immediately notice that a number of the areas within the castle are initially blocked off. This represents the main challenge within Knight ‘n’ Grail as you spend most of your time searching for orbs that will trigger mechanisms that unlock doors.

The castle also contains  many runestones, providing cryptic hints on how to by-pass various blockages that the Knight will encounter. As the player starts to notice inaccessible areas, it becomes obvious that power-ups are to be collected and that the Knight’s quest to find the grail will not be a linear journey.

Weapon and armour upgrades are also a key element to Knight ‘n’ Grail. You start off with an iron sword and armour but these can be upgraded to anyone of the four swords and armours named after the elements – Earth, Wind, Fire and Ice. Each upgrade has a different impact upon enemies. Your progress through the game will be stunted unless you collect all of the upgrades as they are all required to obtain the gold sword for the final section of the game.

The game features a good number of enemies with each type containing distinct characteristics in respect to their attacking capabilities and what is required to eliminate them. Enemy kills result in coins being dropped for the Knight to collect, which will be used later on in the game to purchase a particular powerful power up.

Playing through Knight ‘n’ Grail is not a difficult experience as the game moves along at a relaxed paced and control of your knight is fluid and generous, highlighting that the action element is really secondary to the puzzle element. Initially, it gets frustrating once you lose all your energy and get sent back to the castle entrance, requiring you to re-trace your steps all the way back through the screens of enemies who have re-spawned. However, once you find the first save point located beyond the first section of the game, this annoyance is pretty much eliminated as their location is evenly spread out, with the bonus of being able to restore your health back to full when used. 

The game’s backing soundtrack does not let the game down. Each area has its own distinct quality tune that plays through once and then switches great sound effects before switching pack to the tune. A clever way to break up the music to ensure that it never gets irritating. 

As I finish up this review, I can’t help but feel that there is so much I have not covered. This is a testament to the hidden features and nice little touches that make up Knight ‘n’ Grail, including two possible end sequences depending on how you complete the game. Knight ‘n’ Grail as an X factor about it with its great graphics and atmospheric music, motivating you to continue discovering new things contained within the castle.

If you can overlook (or like me appreciate) the ease of the overall gameplay then Knight ‘n’ Grail is a highly recommended arcade adventure for the Commodore 64.

Game Credits
Design, Graphics and Programming & SFX by Mikael Tillander
Additional Graphics & Cover Artwork by Håkon ‘Archmage’ Repstad
Music by Hans Axelsson

Game Links
Psytronik Software
Itch.Io

Video Link

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