Action MMORPG Spiral Knights Review

Spiral Knights is a Free to Play Action MMORPG developed by Three Rings and published by SEGA. When I first saw this game being advertised, I have to admit my heart sank a little when I saw who was publishing it. SEGA’s portfolio of late hasn’t exactly been filled with what we saw in the days of old, but all that has changed with one polished title. Acquiring Three Rings was probably the best move SEGA has made in a while and I am about to explain why. Players begin their journey as a Spiral Knight who has made a crash landing in their pod on the alien planet, Cradle. Players must join other Knights as they explore the secrets of this mysterious planet.

MMO Games Spiral Knights Haven Screenshot

The interior of the planet itself is a gigantic, ever-changing labyrinth that cycles it’s levels in real-time. Named the Clockworks, this expansive dungeon makes up the mass underneath the surface. The Clockworks leads right down to the core where treasures and the fiercest of enemies awaits brave and capable Spiral Knights. After crash landing, players are taken through a brief tutorial and introduced to the basic controls. Following this, players are taken to their new home, the town of Haven. This town provides everything a Spiral Knight needs to prepare for a venture into the Clockworks, everything from vendors to an auction house.

The first thing that is noticeable is the visual direction of the game, it’s insanely well polished. The graphics aren’t anything amazing but as we have seen in the past, it doesn’t take amazing graphics to make something look good. The color choices, the way the world fits together and the old school vibe it gives off. The game feels like a SNES RPG HD Remake. That’s what makes this game gorgeous, maybe your tastes are different but in my case, I think SNES RPGs age better visually than early 3D games. To put this in perspective, have you ever tried playing Final Fantasy III, still had a great time but tried to return to Final Fantasy VII and felt like your eyes were about to bleed out from the ugly polygons. That’s not a hit against the game however, brilliant story, graphics just didn’t age well. This brings me to my point, the game looks great because it’s something that will never become an eyesore.

MMO Games Spiral Knights Tutorial Screenshot

After players have stocked up on their equipment they can head out to large elevators which lead down to the Clockworks. When stating that the levels cycle in real-time, it means that every second of the day parts of the levels are swapping and changing. Every time you venture into the dungeons below, you will come across a completely new level. In fact, it will take much more than just one trip to the core in order to see all that the Clockworks holds. Spiral Knights is an Action MMORPG so the combat is much similar to that of traditional Action-RPGs. Like Cody Hargreaves said in our preview a while back, Spiral Knights feels very much like Zelda: Four Swords. The Clockworks’ levels are filled with monsters, puzzles and things to break for hearts (life points) or pick-ups.

Groups of up to four can venture deep in the core of the earth, facing new monsters every time and retrieving long lost treasures. To make accessing various depth levels of the Clockworks and the core, players can collect minerals which are used to essentially cut paths through the Clockworks. Different types of minerals create gates to various levels, players can generate areas of the dungeons below and make progressing quickly through the depths an easier task. This changing world means players will always experience something new, keeping the adventures fresh and completely removing the repetitiveness of running the same dungeon over and over.

MMO Games Spiral Knights Clockworks Screenshot

The gameplay is solid, very addictive and a ton of fun. Playing the game feels very much like the old-school dungeons and players are given a few various options as to how they can approach fights. Whether using a sword, shield, gun or bombs, players will have to adapt to different scenarios on the spot. Each monster has its own weaknesses and strengths, using certain attacks against a monster will be more effective than others. The game moves pretty fast and is filled with little bonus challenges you may attempt and boss fights. Finding a group to complete levels with is rather simple, players can join or start a party and even shop around in a lobby level while they wait for more players.

I couldn’t find a bone to pick with the game at all, except one thing, which is kind of major. To descend a level, revive yourself or party members, you must use energy. You only have a limited amount of energy and once it runs out you can’t do anything beyond that point. Your energy regenerates over time, but not over the time-frame of making a coffee. Obviously the length of time you spend in the Clockworks is limited by your peformance, if you die a lot and waste your energy you could be locked out after 30 minutes (you’d have to really, really bad) but more realistically you are only going to get 2-3 hours. This kind of hurt and being stopped from continuing with your party halfway through a play session was kind of frustrating.
MMO Games Spiral Knights Clockworks Screenshot

You can remove this energy system completely for a few dollars a month, or buy a stack of energy from the cash shop. I understand limitations on a free account but the playtime just felt a little too short to the point where the only thing you want to do is log off after you smashed through the Clockworks. It’s never a great thing to push players out of your game and I looked down upon GamesCampus for doing the same thing, no free passes for you SEGA. It’s not completely breaking to the experience however and to be completely honest, this one is worth the premium sub, it costs about the same as a cup of coffee. Overall, Spiral Knights is an extremely addictive Action-MMORPG and you would be a fool to pass it up, besides, the only reason the energy system is annoying is because you want to play MORE!
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