Knights and Bikes (Switch, PS4, PC)

One of the things that I like about reviewing games is the opportunity to try out titles I otherwise might have missed.  Such is the case with Knights and Bikes.  It actually came out last year but I didn’t know about it, or else it just slipped under the cracks for me.  But I got a second chance to take a stab at reviewing it, so here we go!  Anyway, Knights and Bikes is set on the fictitious Penfurzy British island in the mid 1980s.  A girl named Demelza lives there with her dad, who owns a trailer park and mini golf course.  Demelza has her head in the clouds and likes to use her imagination a lot, as kids tend to do.  Recently, Demelza’s mother passed away and she’s been taking it pretty hard, and now they can’t afford to keep their land.  One day, a homeless runaway girl named Nessa sneaks onto a ferry going to Penfurzy Island (don’t worry, the game isn’t as depressing as it sounds).  Nessa is a bit more down to earth, and she and Demelza run into each other and become fast friends. Along with their pet goose Honkers, they set off on a treasure-hunting, bike riding adventure to save the island.  Knights and Bikes is a 2-D co-op action adventure game for 1 or 2 players, and it’s available on Switch, PS4, and PC (reviewed on Switch here).

In the game you’ll play as one of the two girls.  A second player can join in, too, but it works just fine as a single player game as well.  You’ll run around the island talking to people and gathering clues while exploring the trailer park and mini golf course, amusement park, harbor, scrap yard, quarry, and more.  The game kind of has a Goonies meets Gravity Falls vibe to it.  When you’re not searching for clues, you may have to fight enemies to progress.  A bulldozer on the island unearths a curse of ghosts from medieval times, and the spirits possess all sorts of things in the game.  So you’ll fight biting golf balls, evil mascot costume heads, and more.  Defeated baddies will leave behind money and bandages.  You’ll use the money to upgrade and customize your bikes (more on that later).  And you can use bandages to heal yourselves with a ‘high five’ if you take too much damage.  If both girls lose all their energy, you must start at the last auto-save point.

You’ll do battle with silly weapons that kids would use, like flying throwing discs, water balloons, a Power Glove spoof, among other things.  The two girls have their own specific weapons, and gradually get more as the game progresses.  You can even combine some attacks for different effects.  For instance, the water balloons that Nessa throws leave puddles in the ground.  Demelza can then kick with her rain boots in the puddles to do extra splash damage.  The weapons also can help solve puzzles and bypass obstacles as well.  Nessa’s boom box can clear out the cursed fog that frequently blocks the way, and Demelza’s Power Glove can charge up electric devices, to name a few examples.

The two girls also love riding their bikes, and their pedaling vehicles play a big part in the adventure as well.  You can visit a bike shop and customize your bikes with various parts and paint jobs.  Most of the time these are unnecessary, but there are a couple of instances where you need to get things like special tires so you can cross muddy areas and such.  Bikes also help you solve puzzles and get you where you need to go faster.

The game is fun, but it does have a few annoying problems here and there.  Most of the time, they try and do a good job of letting you know where you need to go next, either by Demelza’s imagination lines or Honkers the goose leading the way.  But sometimes goals and puzzles can still be a bit unclear, and it’s occasionally hard to know where to go next.  A lot of this has to do with the graphics.  I do like the paper cut out collage style visuals, but the darker tones make it a bit hard to know where you can and can’t go sometimes.  Combat isn’t bad, but it does feel a bit sloppy sometimes.  Some may say the game is too short, but I don’t think it is.  It just doesn’t overstay its welcome by being too long.  Otherwise, this is a heartwarming and charming unique adventure that gives off a bit of a Psychonauts vibe as well (it was published by Double Fine so maybe that’s why).  I’m glad I got a chance to check it out after all.

Kid Factor:

Knights and Bikes is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol Reference, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, and Mild Language.  I really didn’t notice any alcohol reference or bad language in the game, so it must be used very sparingly.  You do attack silly enemies with goofy kid weapons, and enemies disappear in a ghostly fog when defeated.  Since the game stars kids, of course there’s going to be some crude humor here and there.  Most notably is when the two girls travel through a windy crevice, and Demelza imagines they’re going through a farting dragon’s butt!  Reading skill is a must for the text, and while younger gamers can play this game with older ones, I think this game would be best enjoyed by older kids overall.  There are some serious moments where parents may have to discuss topics like parental mortality, for instance.  But there are also a lot of good messages and lessons about friendship and family in the game as well.

3 Responses to “Knights and Bikes (Switch, PS4, PC)”

  1. I’m going to have to recommend this to my daughter — she loved both Costume Quest games and this really feels like a continuation of that vibe.

  2. This looks cute.

  3. I will play it if it comes to Xbox. I love Double Fine games.

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