I was already sold when I saw the original trailer videos, but I didn’t really know what sort of game I was going to be getting. Luckily then, Knights and Bikes turned out to be the sort of game I wanted to play.
It followed two girls, Demelza and new-found friend Nessa as they explore the island where Demelza lives. A tourist-funded place, which draws holidaymakers in with its legends of knights and hidden treasure, but is currently out of season and financially, things haven’t been going well for Demelza’s caravan park owning dad.
The girls decide they can save the day if they find the island’s ancient treasure, and set off on a pretend quest, Demelza’s imagination bringing the anamatronic minigolf hazards “to life”. But it is all pretend. Until it slowly becomes more and more real. There’s a real curse, and real danger and so surely, a real treasure?
The gameplay of Knights and Bikes reminds me a lot of the Lego games. There’s no Lego building, and nowhere near as many characters and abilities, but there are similar sorts of puzzles and boss fights. Graphically, it’s similar to a cross between Tearaway (and this is probably due to having some of the same dev team) and Little Inferno, but the feeling of the game is definitely along the lines of the films The Goonies and Stand By Me. Kids on an adventure, doing stuff a bit naughty, things not quite going to plan.
There’s a great cast of characters you meet along the way, lots of 1980s references, and a fantastic punk theme song, and some great attention to detail – the girls make aeroplane noises as they run around, for example, high-fiving ToeJam and Earl style to recover health, and the facial expressions are wonderfully, well, expressive. And all the pointless cosmetic changes you can do to your bikes which changes nothing in terms of the gameplay or story but is absolutely what you want to be able to do anyway.
And then there’s Captain Honkers. One of Demelza’s geese, he follows you everywhere, has a nose for finding where you need to go, and constantly needs feeding or petting. He’s the second best goose in games.
It’s all great, but perhaps the best thing about the game is you can play it all in co-op. In fact, single player mode (which I didn’t play) would seem to be a hindrance to the fun as it’d require more character swapping. Again, like the Lego games, two player should be the way to go if you can.