Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment Review: Blight The Earth!
Shovel Knight is an indie game you should already own. Repackaged with all of its DLC as Treasure Trove, there are few games you’ll get more bang for your buck on consoles today. We reviewed the game when it originally released in 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS and again for PS4/Xbox One a year later so you should be familiar already with why Yacht Club Games’s stellar platformer.
This review will focus on Specter of Torment, the latest expansion to Shovel Knight’s long list of features that have been added post-launch in 2014. Yacht Club has given fans countless reasons to come back and Specter of Torment is a great reason to come back if you’ve already beaten the main game or test it out if you’re somehow still new to the franchise.
Specter of Torment focuses a lot on story, serving as a prequel to the events of the main Shovel Knight campaign and fills out Specter Knight’s backstory significantly as the player controls him. There are references to the Shovel Knight campaign, which are nice but for the most part story focuses on Specter Knight and what makes him tick. Its actually a pretty-good story which I personally did not expect.
Specter Knight can run up most walls with some limitations and can use upward and downward slashes to get serious air time for tricky jumps or to drop in on enemies. Specter’s mana is recharged through killing enemies and combined with his ability to climb, it forces the player to be much more offensive than they may have been in the regular Shovel Knight campaign. Specter Knight is a very cool character to play as and it has hard to not feel like a badass wielding his scythe while looking stylish in a cloak.
As is, SoT is filled with tightly crafted levels that present a hearty challenge to even the best Shovel Knight players. They are remixed versions of levels you’ve already played, with new enemies and new attacks from bosses so while it will all feel familiar you’ll get your ass handed to you if you aren’t on your toes. Deaths never fill cheap or out of place though you will shake your fist in frustration at falling into a pit or spikes countless times, not because you’re upset at the game but because you thought you knew better after the last pit or spike that claimed your life. Enemies can be difficult at times due to their location in a room depending on how many hazards they are surrounded by, some visible and some not so visible.
After the starting level, Specter Knight spends his time in a hub-world stage where he can visit vendors, talk to people and when the player is ready, go to a magic mirror and choose the next stage. Its more direct than Shovel Knight’s initial campaign and I personally found it refreshing though I’m sure some will miss the traditional map.
Specter of Torment is a worthy addition to one of the best games of this generation. At $10, its hard to not recommend it to new comers who don’t want to take a risk on Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove’s $25 price tag though I would recommend just taking the risk. The tweaks Yacht Club has made to Shovel Knight’s core gameplay with Specter Knight present challenges that are exciting, new and familiar all at the same time. It is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch for March and part of April so if you need a break from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this is first non-Zelda purchase you should be making.
If you’re not a Switch early adopter, Specter of Torment easily stacks up next to any game you could possibly have in your library of games for all other consoles. So in short: Specter of Torment is a more substantial expansion than you may have thought and something both newcomers and Shovel Knight fans should play.
With new, reworked levels, enemies and bosses, Specter of Torment is stands alone as yet another fantastic product from Yacht Club Games. Whether you have played Shovel Knight or not, this charming, challenging and highly satisfying campaign is worth every penny of its asking price.