Fight Knight Review – This Hits Just Right
Developed and Published by Team Sorcerobe
Available on PC
I don’t much play old-school RPGs. Stuff like Legend of Grimrock is lost on me. I had never much cared for the movement scheme of forward, backward, left, and right. It feels constricting. Fight Knight takes my dislike and punches it in the jaw. The old-school movement is there, but it serves a purpose. Fight Knight is an old-school RPG in spirit, if not always in mechanics. Plodding combat encounters, relying on dice rolls for hits, misses, and crits, have been replaced with Punch-Out-esque combat featuring combos, special moves, and plenty of speed.
You play as a fight knight. A knight that shuns the standard sword and board in favor of the power of fist. A mysterious tower has burst out of the ground, casting eternal night over all it can see. This tower eats up entire chunks of towns, taking everything into its growing, twisting floor plan. To this end, each area of Fight Knight is unique. The first level of the tower sees you exploring a dank old dungeon/sewer. Moving up you’ll see completely new environments, like the shifting sands of a puzzling desert. Where another game might rely on procedural generation to build dungeons, Fight Knight excels by providing a handcrafted experience. The dungeons are the same when you enter, but challenging enough to keep you going on repeat playthroughs.
That’s not to say that you’re going to just blast through Fight Knight. The floors are filled with devious puzzles to keep you guessing. While I love the puzzles, the game shines in combat. Combat encounters are random. Kind of like Final Fantasy and its ilk, you’ll just be walking along when the screen goes black and drops you into an encounter. These encounters show that Fight Knight isn’t just fancy Punch-Out. You can duck, dip, and dodge your way around enemies, throwing short punches in rapid succession. The starting enemies are skeletons, the footsoldier of any good RPG. They’re just fun to beat up. Start with short jabs from the inside, back up, wind up a hard uppercut, KNOCKOUT.
The combat just feels good. As you move through the tower, the enemies will start to group up. These groups aren’t just a mishmash of different enemy types for the sake of having more things to punch or more challenge. These groups serve a purpose on your journey. Enemies will synergize with each other to better take on a knight that throws hands instead of daggers. Spellcasters might stand behind a line of skeletons to take ranged potshots at you while you deal with their calcium-reinforced buddies. You of course can punch their spells back at them, but you need to be quick to avoid strikes from skeletons and spells from the back. Managing combat encounters is the biggest part of Fight Knight. Knowing when to back away or dodge will save you a lot of time.
If you get knocked out in Fight Knight, you’ll wake up back in the boat that you call home. You’ll lose any items you may have picked up and any progress you may have made. It’s very smart to take the time to go back and save at your boat in-between challenging sections. As you move through the tower you’ll also find recipes. These recipes can be turned in to the cook on your boat to make specialties. Specialties are special moves that you can perform in combat. You can only go into a run with a set number of specialties, so it’s wise to find a few that you really like. I really liked the specialty that let me throw 100 Fist of the North Star punches in a row. Enemies never expect someone to wade in, filling the room with an absurd number of punches at an absurd speed.
Fight Knight is also beautiful. Can we talk about that? The color palette is simple in a GameBoy Color kind of way. It’s not flashy but the detail work gives everything this strange retro feel. At first, it seemed abrasive, but as I played, I found myself really enjoying it. Thankfully, Fight Knight isn’t the only character. The design of the NPCs throughout the world is fun and on-brand for a fantasy game. At the beginning of the game, you’ll meet a whiny knight who is shocked when you break his sword in half via the power of punches only. He’s a goofy character, and as you continue through the game you’ll meet plenty of goofy characters. Saving them, or finishing their tasks in the tower will sometimes bring them back to the small town near your boat to serve as shops and other services.
You’ll start out just throwing punches. After saving some NPCs, buying some potions, getting the right gauntlets and specialties, you’ll be ripping through the tower like a knight possessed…at least until the next boss. Bosses are so incredibly difficult in Fight Knight. Now, granted, I have gone on record saying that I’m bad at games. You might find the bosses to be a cakewalk. That’s fine. I like the challenge presented at the end of each floor. The boss designs are inspired, and their fights are unique. I don’t want to spoil them, so you can go and find them yourself.
All in all, Fight Knight is a concept that shouldn’t work. An old-school RPG with grid-based melee combat. It seems absurd, like an idea that couldn’t carry a whole game. It can, and does. Fight Knight takes this absolutely crazy set-up and makes you either get good or die trying. The characters and the world might be a bit silly, but there’s nothing funny about getting punched by an irate skeleton.