Knight Crawlers

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Knight Crawlers


Smashing through the dungeons

Toy like action

We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Knight Crawlers at PAX Aus last October, and it certainly looked like a heap of fun. So, when the opportunity arose to check out a preview version of the game, we jumped at the chance. For those who haven’t read our PAX Aus special, Knight Crawlers is a rogue-lite action RPG that allows players to journey through dungeons either alone or with up to three friends.

After customizing their character with details such as hair style and facial tattoos, and then selecting their weapon of choice, players will head down to the dungeons to take on the enemies within. With cartoon-like visuals, players descend into the procedurally generated dungeons with each starting level being different from the last. A glowing red pentagram on the floor indicates a summoning location from where enemies will spawn. Moving onto this design and pressing the summon button will get the action under way. But players do not need to do so immediately. I enjoyed being able to have a look around at each level prior to summoning the first wave of enemies, as it gave me a chance to work out some viable strategies using some of the environmental dangers. But once the enemies appear, Knight Crawlers is hectic, as players move around the map dodging enemies and the environmental dangers as they take care of the spawned creatures.


The environmental dangers take on several forms. There are grates which activate spikes or fire when walked over, laser beams that fire darts when triggered, and circular saw blades embedded in channels that move back and forth just waiting to slice players. These perils stand out though in a bright ominous red. Luckily, these traps are just as deadly to the spawned enemies, so luring them into these traps at the right time becomes part of a viable strategy.

Combat is a strange beast. I found myself constantly running through levels just trying to gain some distance between myself and the attackers so that my ranged weapon had a chance to make the most impact. And then once I gained a bonus power – through a card drop – I just used that whenever I could. The bonus powers have a cooldown period, so players cannot keep using it constantly. Indeed, I found that I hardly made much use of the melee weapon unless I absolutely needed to.

Throughout the dungeons, players will collect XP for defeating enemies, and upon levelling up, a card drop occurs, giving players the option to choose from one of three cards. These cards will grant bonuses for the current run. Some will be once-offs such as healing a percentage of your strength, whilst others will last until you die – such as granting an extra projectile from your ranged weapon. I did find that when paired together early on in a run through, some of the cards allowed our character to be somewhat overpowered, enabling them to cut a swathe through the early minions.

While moving through the dungeons, players may also, from time to time, stumble across a treasure box or gain a loot drop from fallen enemies. These boxes and loot drops can contain some awesome gear that will either sure up your defence or provide for more powerful attacking options.

But players will inevitably run out of health and succumb to the ever-increasing horde of enemies or boss characters. Dying leads you back to the Sanctuary where you meet up with four characters, each who can help you in a specific way. The Lorekeeper is probably the most useful – particularly early in the game) – as he can help you boost your stats. This will cost you the essence that you have collected through the dungeons. As you progress, each tier of stats will cost more essence to unlock. The Cartographer unlocks Skill classes, but these will set you back special Runes that are relatively hard to come by. Defeating a dungeon boss is they only way that I found these Runes in the preview version we had access to.

The other two characters are less useful – the Blacksmith letting you customize your character with different wings or head cosmetics. Neither of these affect your playthrough, but it is nice to change things up a bit every now and again. The Envoy simple allows you to head back into the dungeons.

Jumping and slashing

The game can be played with both the keyboard and mouse combo or a controller. I found the controller easier to play with, but the in-game pop-ups were linked to keybindings for the keyboard, so whenever there was a pop-up, I had to remember which controller button was linked to that key. There may have been a setting that I could have changed, to show the controller buttons on those pop-ups, but I found it odd nonetheless that this wasn’t by default, especially as Knight Crawler can be played as a multiplayer (either co-op or versus), which would require a couple of controllers.

It did take me some getting used to the combat mechanics, but I'm glad I stuck with it. Building up my character (all boosts purchased from the Lorekeeper carry forward to your next dungeon run) to the point where he could start taking down some of the bosses. It did feel rewarding as the behemoths fell. In the game's current state, the melee weapons do feel underpowered and players will spend far too much time running away from enemies rather than confronting them. But the multiplayer certainly adds to Knight Crawlers, with players either combining their skills in the dungeons, or going head-to-head in a fight to the death. And I am looking forward to future updates from the developers.

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