Spiral Knights Overview
Spiral Knights is a cooperative dungeon crawler fantasy MMORPG. Players begin as a simple knight, and jump into action immediately with an ever-changing, randomized world known as the Clockworks. Players can influence the areas they enter by depositing different minerals into the gates before they open. As players level up, they can upgrade their equipment or craft new items; the level of a player’s equipment also determines what level they are. The game is multi-player, always ensuring that players enter into dungeons together to explore. Battle sprites are also available as a companion for players, adding extra skills and damage in battle.
Spiral Knights Screenshots
Spiral Knights Featured Video
Spiral Knights Review
Updated Look By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
It’s time to head back into the subterranean world of ClockWorks for an updated look at Spiral Knights, a 3D Action MORPG created by Three Rings Design (a developer best known for their original breakout title Puzzle Pirates). Spiral Knights has been around since 2010 as a F2P title featuring “Legend of Zelda” style dungeon crawling, multiplayer co-op action, and an ever-changing world based on player contributions.
Since then, the game has gone through some hearty changes, including its availability on Valve’s Steam service; it was one of the first titles to be included in Valve’s item trading system. Most recently, they have removed the dreaded elevator fees that were required in order to explore deeper into the world, so now players will now be able to play as long as they want. Will this change be enough to warrant coming back to Spiral Knights?
Now the core gameplay for Spiral Knights hasn’t changed much: players can enter the Clockworks solo or join up with three other players. The option to join open parties is still possible, as well as the option to drop in and out of dungeons at the end of each run. Players will have to slash, shoot and bomb their way through over four different gates with three tiers of difficulty. Using the keyboard for movement and power ups, and the mouse for aiming and attacking, the battle system remains quick and easy for anyone to pick up and play, but sadly does not allow for solid gamepad usage.
The main premise of Spiral Knights is still all about finding loot, crafting powerful gear and exploring down into the Clockworks in order to reach the mysterious core of the planet. That much hasn’t changed, but what has changed is the inclusion of quests and missions to help give players a sense of direction. Now players can ease their way into the deeper tiers while getting (somewhat) properly equipped in the process. There’s also a quest dialog that comes with these missions, but they certainly won’t be pulling players in with any gripping storylines.
While the core gameplay is still enjoyable, repetition is still issue, and it sets in quickly. The feeling of exploring the Clockworks wears off in the later levels due how frequently the game recycles map layouts. It’s hard to not feel a bit of déjà vu when trekking through a dungeon that has a similar layout to a dungeon that was completed four stages ago, but has a new tileset thrown over it.
It certainly doesn’t help that most dungeons are as difficult as simply clearing out rooms of enemies, and the fact that most puzzles are as simple as flipping a switch… literally. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more puzzles that require timing and coordination with party members, but understandably, the lack of these kinds of challenges was to keep the game solo friendly.
Still, Spiral Knights only stays solo friendly for so long, especially when reaching the deeper tiers of Clockworks, as the game starts to get a bit more relentless with enemies that hit like a truck. Of course, the game does feature armor, weapons, and other gear than can be purchased, crafted and upgraded to help you survive, but they only help so much. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to gather some party members.
Danger rooms and boss battles are definitely the highlight of venturing into the dungeons. Entering a danger room will pit players against several waves of enemies, and boss battles offer a decent challenge with simple, but effective mechanics thrown in. The rewards for completion of these battles are usually a hefty amount of crowns (in-game currency), forge crystals, and rare materials for crafting. Unfortunately, the only way to enter danger rooms is by using “energy”.
When elevator fees were removed, mist energy was also removed in the process, which means players can no longer gain free energy that replenishes itself every few hours. One way to earn energy is through exchanging them with crowns. While this sounds nice and fair, the prices for exchanging crowns for energy are fairly high, usually high enough to stay out of a pure F2P user’s reach, so the only other option is to earn energy is buying purchasing with real money. While earning crowns gets much easier later on, it’s a shame that pure F2P players will not be able to stock up without paying early on, especially since energy is also used for… well… just about everything else, including crafting and device activation for mecha knights and turrets. Even starting a guild requires energy.
Newly added to Spiral Knights was the inclusion of Battle Sprites, which are tiny little pets that can aid players in battle. The usefulness of these battle sprites, however, completely varies depending on which one the player chooses. The Drakon’s primarily use is for offensive attacks, but its strength is sub-par until leveled up to a certain point, and the Maskeraith’s abilities seem too situational. The Seraphynx on the other hand, while not having the best offensive attack, possesses great healing abilities, making it the most preferred battle sprite available.
The repetition from PvE can be tiresome, but this can be broken up through new PvP game modes. While the core combat for Spiral Knights seems like it would not be suited for any kind of multiplayer competition, PvP in Spiral Knights focuses on objective based game modes that involve a nice amount of strategy, including a capture & hold mode called Lockdown and bomb trapping mode called Blast Network that plays suspiciously like a game of “Bomberman”. Lockdown manages to add some more variety by introducing changeable classes, including Strikers which can zip around the battlefield faster than other classes, Guardians which can protect themselves and their teammates with increased defenses, and Recons that can scan the field for enemy players while invisible. Each class serves a useful purpose and helps to create a more an engaging PvP experience.
The presentation of Spiral Knights still holds up well, with its colorful visuals and quirky music that harks back to 16-bit classic adventure games. The world still retains a lighthearted charm filled with creatures and monsters that seem to have lives of their own. Creatures such as the Gremlins and Fiends are always fun to deal with, especially since Gremlins always communicate with each other during a battle and Fiends usually have pit bosses always around, whose only job is to promote and demote the other fiends around him.
With the addition of tons of new content, features and removal of elevator fees, Spiral Knights is a much more enjoyable game that it was so many years ago, with content and pacing that both casual and hardcore players can dedicate themselves too. The only real issue that can be found here is the excessive amount of repetition from dungeons and the lack of crystal availability for F2P users, but all of this can be overlooked regardless if a player wants to play for a few minutes or several hours, just as long as those players can pull some friends in or find some new ones along the way. With the game’s community still as friendly as ever, that shouldn’t be too much of a daunting task.
Original Review By, Jaime Skelton
Spiral Knights Review
Many games start with you crash landing on an unfamiliar planet, needing the help of new friends to survive. The struggle to exist in an unfamiliar land is a common trope in video games. Spiral Knights, developed by Three Rings (makers of Puzzle Pirates) and published by Sega, manages to pull it off with cute wit and style. Graphically similar to games such as Zodiac Online and Fairyland Online, Spiral Knights brings forth some interesting, unique game-play mechanics. These features set Spiral Knights above and beyond similar top-down MMORPGs.
Keep It Simple; Jump Right In!
Character creation may make the game seem fairly limited. There are only three helmet, three armor and five color schemes to choose from. There is no gender selection – one helmet does make you “female” by adding pigtail looking tufts. Outside of choosing a personal color and your name, that’s all you’re given. There are neither classes nor races to choose from in Spiral Knights. In fact, your character is defined solely by the equipment you use.
Once you’ve created a character, you’ll find yourself near a crashed escape pod. The first few areas of the game teach you how to move, attack, change weapons, pick up objects, and how to handle certain enemy types. The controls are very simple to learn and understand. The game can be played with the mouse alone, as movement and combat are controlled with the left and right mouse buttons respectively, in the direction the cursor faces.
Into the Mist
The user interface itself is clean and out of the way. The upper left contains various game menus, including the main menu, the social menu and the uplink menu (the game’s mail system). The top right hosts your mini-map, and also includes your character information, equipment arsenal, and crowns, the in-game currency. The bottom left houses the chat pane.
At the bottom right of the screen, your energy is shown. There are two types of energy in Spiral Knights: Mist and Crystal energy. Mist energy is the standard energy bar, while Crystal energy is additional energy purchased through the cash shop. You start with a maximum of 100 Mist energy. Adventuring in the Clockworks uses Mist energy to go down floors, use gates, activate friendly NPCs, and more. Once at zero energy, you’ll be unable to advance, and must wait for your energy to replenish. It takes about 15 minutes to recharge one unit of energy, so expect to wait around 24 hours for energy to fully recharge.
After the tutorial quests that deliver you to Haven, the game’s hub, Spiral Knights becomes open- ended. This can be a jarring experience. Your gameplay goal is to reach the core of the planet by getting to the deepest level (called stratum). Going deeper into the dungeon involves activating gates, which is done using minerals found while exploring, plus a small crown cost to access later strata. The minerals you use along with the time of day determines the stratum’s theme, or the types of monsters you’ll find. This system ensures gameplay varies from day to day.
Spiral Knights does require some social interaction. By default, entering the Clockworks will partner you with up to three other players. There are options for solo play, however, there are several advantages to traveling with other Knights. Minerals, Heat and crowns are all equally shared, not divided, across the party. There is also strategic value to multiple players in combat.
Experience – How It Work?
Spiral Knights does not feature a traditional character progression system. Characters do not level up; instead, a character’s equipment gains experience, called Heat. Each piece of equipment can gain up to ten levels through gathering Heat. The game includes swords, guns, bombs, armor, helmets, and shields. Some pieces of equipment can be upgraded to the next tier once they are level ten, using crafting components found in the dungeons. There are also trinkets to equip, with various stats and abilities, though these do not grow in level. Leveling is on a curve; early levels are easier to gain, while later levels require higher amounts of Heat. However, it’s never terribly daunting to get a piece of equipment to level ten, and unlike other MMOs, there is no risk of your equipment breaking through upgrades.
As you explore, you’ll find crafting materials in addition to minerals. These materials can be used to create new equipment or upgrade existing pieces. Vendors sell random recipes throughout the day, and it can sometimes be difficult to obtain the recipe you need. The interface is fairly straightforward and intuitive, making it easy to make what you need and move on. It’s made easier due to Alchemy Machines being found almost everywhere.
Friends and (future) Foes
Players can join guilds, which are a great way to gather groups for various adventures. In addition to their own special chat channel, guilds have the benefit of a guild hall, where guild members can craft and socialize. It takes 500 energy and 1000 crowns to start a guild, so some purchase of Crystal energy will be required.
PvP is currently disabled; however, there are plans to reintroduce it in the future – there is no known ETA when this will be. Battles will be four person free-for-all arenas with four tiers of combat. Each tier places various restrictions on equipment, except the top tier where anything goes. Each tier also will have progressively higher crowns cost to participate.
Final Verdict: Great
Spiral Knights is a whimsical, fun adventure into the unknown depths of a planet. The simple combat system, coupled with a vast array of equipment, is engaging enough to bring players back. The major downside of the game is the lack of in-game information, although the publisher maintains a wikia page. With the unique way dungeons are created with random elements ensures no two adventures are quite the same. With a positive grouping experience and friendly atmosphere, Spiral Knights offers a casual, drama-free gaming experience. Even hardcore gamers will find plenty of things they can do.
Spiral Knights Links
Spiral Knights System Requirements
Windows & Linux
- Windows XP, Vista or 7
- Java 1.5
- Display 1024×600
- 1.3 GHz processor
- Graphics: 64mb Video Memory. GeForce 5 series, ATI Radeon 8500. Latest video driver.
- Memory: 512mb for Windows XP or 1gb for Windows Vista/7
- 300MB Hard drive space
- OSX 10.4
- Java 1.5
- Display 1024×600
- 1.3 GHz processor
- Graphics: 64MB Video Memory. GeForce 5 series, ATI 8500. Latest video driver.
- 1GB memory (1000MB)
- 300MB hard drive space
Spiral Knights Articles
- MMO Holiday Event Guide 2013 - Posted on December 5, 2013
A look at the events in MMOs this holiday season.
- Spiral Knights – Updated Look - Posted on November 22, 2013
Spiral Knights is now available on Valve’s Steam service and the dreaded elevator fees are gone. Will this change be enough to warrant coming back to Spiral Knights?