My liege! You have returned from your quest! I trust that you did duly vanquish the foe and rescue the faire maiden. No? Oh, well, this is awkward. What happened? Maybe if we start from the beginning...
It was a lovely moonlit night. The brave knight and his faire maiden sat alone on the hilltop, overlooking the peaceful village below. It was a night to remember. Nothing could spoil this moment. Suddenly, the moon disappeared and the sky turned red. From below the hill, a demon appeared and floated in the air in front of the couple. Before the knight knew what was happening, the demon captured the faire maiden and took her deep into the depths of the Earth. The knight jumped to his feet, trusty drill at the ready, and dove into the ground after them.
In Knightfall from Megadev the objective is to get your knight to the key for the level exit, and then to the exit itself. This sounds easy, until you realize that you do not actually have direct control over your knight. In order to reach items on the game board, vanquish foes, and reach the exit, you have two main actions that you can do. By double-clicking on groups of matching blocks, you will make them disappear, much in the same manner as the classics: Same Game, Sega Swirl and Collapse! This alone won't do much good. You also have the ability to rotate the game board 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise. This allows you to change which way is "down", and make it easier to line your knight up with his goal.
Of course, no adventure would be complete without baddies to dispense of along the way. There are a wide variety of monsters to come up against, each with their own methods and ranges of attack. For instance, the slime will only attack when right next to you on the board. Mages can blast lightning across the entire board as long as you are lined up with them either vertically or horizontally. Dragons and minotaurs will attack from a couple blocks away. You, of course, can attack back by coming up next to a baddie and rotating the board so that you come down at them from above, drill pointed down ready to attack. In true RPG fashion, you'll receive gold and experience points for each creature dealt with.
You have a limited amount of hit points that can be replenished by either drinking a magic potion or by eating chicken. Both of these items can either be found on the game board from time to time, ready to be collected, or can be purchased between rounds with gold that you have collected. As you gain experience points, you will slowly gain levels, which in turn will raise the maximum hit points that you can have. There are a number of other items that you can collect and buy, including spells that will do anything from allow you to rotate the board 180 degrees to destroying all creatures on the screen to turning all of the creatures into chickens.
As you are clicking matching blocks, attempting to remove the obstacles in the knight's way, you may wonder what keeps you from clicking on blocks for the entire round and gaining copious amounts of experience points? The answer to that would be action points. In leu of some sort of timer for each round, you are instead given 50 action points. These points are only used when you clear out matching blocks; you can rotate the board all you want, and you won't use any. If you end up using all of your action points before you manage to make it to the exit, your knight will begin losing a health point for every extra move you have to make. While it's good to collect other items and to vanquish foes along the way, it is generally in your best interest to open and make it to the exit as soon as you can.
Analysis: Knightfall is one of those games that instead of retreading a popular style of game, mashes-up the styles to make a game that is more interesting than the sum of its parts. Part Mr. Driller, Same Game, and Puzzle Quest, the gameplay in Knightfall is well balanced and well executed. The game includes a tutorial which is executed in an interesting way, in the form of a YouTube video showing how the mechanics of the game work, complete with narration of what's going on on-screen. While I generally prefer hands-on tutorials, I had no questions about how to play the game after watching the short video.
Once you complete the three different difficulty levels of the story mode, you can always take the game on in Purgatory mode. This is a never-ending series of levels of ever-increasing difficulty where instead of collecting a key to open the door to the next level, you need to dispose of all of the creatures on the screen. With the same action point limit of 50, this can at times be a daunting task.
There are (wait for it...) 28 achievements to be had during the game, as well. One thing that I don't like about the achievements in Knightfall is the fact that there is absolutely no description of the achievement or what you might have to do in order to win it, save what you may be able to glean from the rather obscure titles. Somehow I've managed to collect the "Rainbows over Camelot" and "Deadly Gentry" achievements, but I couldn't begin to tell you just how I accomplished it.
That small complaint aside, Knightfall is a definite keeper. With a fun story mode and an unlimited purgatory mode to keep you coming back for more, the mix of matching game and RPG is, once again, a success. While it does call into question at what point the electric drill was invented, we'll leave that to the historians and go back to busting rock and beating baddies to rescue our damsel in distress.