Written by: J.H. Longman
Seeing as how I am having so much fun with Shovel Knight and beaten the original story, it was only fitting I commenced Plague of Shadows, the free dlc that released on the 17th of December, and after a couple of hours of gameplay, I decided the new adventure deserves a review of its own, after all, the added dlc is nothing like what we’ve seen already. Yes it may feature the same graphics and settings, but there are more areas to explore in these already explored settings and new side-quests. As for the game, its difficulty is more so than the other, which is partly due to the controls. Plague Knight, sporting an altered appearance, thanks to a different mask, is nothing like his noble, shovel wielding counter-part. His moves are defeats, his attacks are different, just everything about him and unless you get the hang off just what he can do, you will die an awful lot. Plague Knight’s bomb burst is probably one of the hardest skills you can learn in a videogame, not only do you have to master timing, but landing as well because it is so easy to dart over your intended platform.
One consideration I had is I found him to be more effective against bosses, able to defeat them a whole lot quicker and on the topic of bosses, had you have grown really irksome of Shovel Knight, you can now defeat him as he takes Plague Knight’s role as a boss, and there’s also a new main boss, whom you battle after the Enchantress, named the Plague of Shadows, but before I go any further, first let’s cover the story. Plague of Shadows sees Plague Knight, master alchemist, take up the role of the Hero in his own story, a story which reveals more about his reasons why he was with the Order of No Quarter and his own plans. He may be with the Order, but he only holds respect for one of them, but they still serve a use to him, without their essence, he won’t be able to create the most powerful potion to ever exist, a potion that will give him the power he greatly desires and there isn’t anything he won’t do to achieve it and he is not along, for a team of minions and fellow alchemist are on hand to see his adventure continue.
What is interesting about his campaign is its tie-in to Shovel Knight’s campaign, when Plague Knight reaches the village, denied entry of course, he instead uses his secret entrance below the village and as he is running across the sewers, Shovel Knight can be seen running above him. Other tie-ins include when Plague Knight returns to his Explodatorium, finding it in disarray as an intruder runs amok, except it is no intruder. Plague Knight discovers Shovel Knight at the end of the level and the two battle and although Plague Knight reduces Shovel Knight’s life to next to nothing, when he attempts to steal the shovel wielding Knight’s essence, Shovel Knight recovers and defeats Plague Knight as normal and carries on with his journey, only to have Plague Knight visit him in the night, when sleeping by his campfire and steals his essence anyway.
The last tie-in is during the Battle Royale, it is Plague Knight who takes on the Order and then Shovel Knight, only to be defeated and thrown over the edge, where he lands on the bottom of the chain, where all the other members of the Order are present and the victorious Shovel Knight proceeds onwards, except Plague Knight leaps away thanks to his potions and beats Shovel Knight to the top of the tower, where he beats the Enchantress and the Plague of Shadows.
Plague Knight’s experience is certainly a harder journey, but it is just as fun and thrilling as the one before it and the changes are great. Because he has no use for the relics Shovel Knight would find, he can trade them with Chester in Exchange for arcana, which is very useful to him and enables Chester to be able to sell the relics on to Shovel Knight, continuing his story and I’ve still yet to establish all the changes. Instead of meal tickets to buy food to increase his life, he can collect tonics through-out his adventures, which extends his life, for as long as he lives. Should he fall in battle, his life will return to default. Like Shovel Knight, he can also change his gear by getting new cloaks thanks to the Troupple King, but in order to get them you will need the Troupple Chalice and fill it up before taking it to the King.
However the best changes have to be the inclusion of Cipher Coins, hidden through-out the various levels, which can be given to Mona for her research into upgrades for Plague Knight’s potions. Upgrades which include:
-Casing: Affects the trajectory of the bomb potions you throw.
-Powder: Allows you to change the result of the bang of your potions when they explode. Includes simple explosions to flame pillars and electrical pulses.
-Fuse: Affects the timer of the bombs.
The alchemy crafting is certainly a great additional as you are able to customize the three types to best suit the situation you’re faced with, making boss fights go from easier to ridiculously easy and they make advancing through story easy too. Without a doubt, Plague Knight, similar length to Shovel Knight story, is truly a game in its own right, more than just a campaign and offers us some great hindsight into just what we can expect from Yatch Club Games when they put out the other two campaigns centred around King Knight and Spectre Knight. I might even have to review them too.
With no more dilly-dally, let’s skip over to the Pros & Cons:
-Same setting, same aesthetic, completely different game with new hero and mechanics.
-One of the best forms of dlc you could get for a game and what’s more, it’s free!
-Battling Shovel Knight, something we all want to do.
-All new implemented health system and weapons upgrade.
-The campaign goes hand in hand with the main story, giving us a bigger look into and understanding of the world the Knights call home.
-Given everything that went into it, the game very easily could have been a stand-alone in its own right, as it and the other forthcoming campaigns game will leave Shovel Knight feeling more of an anthology, a collection of games other than just one large all rounded game.
-Although Plague Knight’s story and motives were good, I found his character less appealing, despite his romantic feelings for Mona, Shovel Knight sadly still takes top spot, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Specter Knight looks bad-ass!
-Master the jumps. This is the hardest aspect of the whole adventure and is something of a deal breaker, as for the players who can’t get the hang of this, they’ll most likely stop playing his campaign altogether and go back to the default campaign.
With no more hesitation, with a score separate for the one given to Shovel Knight’s main story, Plague of Shadows achieves 8.7/10.0 exploding potions. It is a great addition to the game, but the added difficulty, prompting moments of rage and less of an appealing character still needed to be considered, but the campaign itself is more than worth the completion, as it is a game in its own right and really should be recognised as such. If you own the game and haven’t tried Plague of Shadows yet, either start it today, or hurry up and finish Shovel Knight, and then start a new game in Plague of Shadows. You are missing out and seeing as it is free and you already own the game, why not play it and if you don’t own the game, buy it, because Yacht Club Games are still only halfway through with it.
If you haven’t yet, you can catch our review on the main game of Shovel Knight, right here: Shovelry & Chivalry – The #ShovelKnight Wii U Review – Review (Wii U)
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.