Indie: Knytt

How about that headline, eh? Incomprehensible. It’s a piece of work, if I may say so myself, and it’s all for you, dear readers, ye few who haven’t gone off and been productive and stuff. A little mystery never hurt anyone, I’d say, but let’s put aside the smoke and mirrors for now and break out the literary analysis, shall we?

Indie is a word. You’ll see it pop up a bit more frequently now as The Last Level officially extends to indie gaming. There are a ton of great games floating around the ‘net, so be sure to stick around.

Knytt is a game. An indie game, to be precise, and probably one of the purest, cleanest examples of gaming I’ve ever seen. It’s also my second favorite indie title of recent times. Curious yet?

Take a basic platformer game, okay? You run. You jump. The legendary Super Mario Bros. didn’t do much else beyond that and was a smashing success, a testament to the strength of the formula as much as the endearing qualities of a mushroom-chomping plumber.

Knytt nails that formula perfectly. You run. You jump. And you climb walls, your tiny little character scurrying up vertical faces like it’s nobody’s business. Five minutes into the game and you know exactly what you need to do: move. Even moreso than that other indie game I fiddled with awhile back, Knytt is all about motion, getting from point A to point B and avoiding certain doom along the way.

Water kills you, for one. Instant death is never pretty. And avoid the monsters, too, since your tiny little guy is more a runner than a fighter. But these are simple rules, immediately accessible to anyone who has a pulse, and just another part of the minimalist charm that makes the rest of Knytt as endearing as its mechanics.

Storyline? Your spaceship crashes on an alien planet, its many pieces scattering to the wind. It’s all on you to get them back, naturally, which means you’ll get to see the many strange sights of an unknown world. That’s all there is to it. You’ll have a magical shining light that points in the direction of the nearest ship piece to guide you, but beyond that it all comes back to the motion: climbing and jumping and trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to get that piece up in the sky (hint: clouds).

Graphics? Simple but effective. Minimalist is the buzzword for this article, so I’ll throw it out again, but Knytt creator Nicklas Nygren managed to pack a whole lot of style into some pretty basic tiles. Photorealistic this is not, but anyone who digs a unique 2D art style as much as I do will enjoy running through this delightfully strange world.

Sound? Ambient pieces that are specifically tailored to their individual parts of the world map. They’re great. All of them. They’re well-suited for the environments you explore and won’t distract you from the task at hand, so what’s not to love?

And here’s the clincher: it’s free. Knytt, like its sequel Knytt Stories (more on that in a future column) won’t cost you a dime. Why not give it a shot? There’s a certain amount of challenge involved in navigating often treacherous terrian to get that next ship piece, so difficulty-fiends will have plenty to chew on. Even if you’re not bent on testing your skills, though, there’s quite a bit of fun to be had in the visceral thrill of moving: running, jumping, and climbing, the simple pleasures that never grow old.

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No Comments on "Indie: Knytt"

  1. Amy
    15/04/2009 at 4:02 pm Permalink

    Matt! I’ve missed your writing! You’ve convinced me. I will check it out!


  1. Single-Spaced » The Unwind Wrapup 28/05/2009 at 1:51 am

    [...] has been a great one, if only for the fact that it pushed me to get off my ass…

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