At first glance, Knight Squad looks like any other run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen local multiplayer title that has taken over the Switch eShop in the years since its inception. Here, you really can mostly judge the book by its cover, but a few exceptionally creative modes and a few fun weapons sporadically elevate Knight Squad beyond its tedious gameplay.
Outside of local multiplayer, Knight Squad has some single-player challenges and allows players to watch bots fight for some reason. Neither of these is interesting, remotely fun, or at all worth your time. If you’re gonna dive into Knight Squad, do it with a buddy you’ve been raring to duke it out with.
The bland, one-button combat is not a strength here the way it is in games like TowerFall and Duck Game, which manage to retain some level of strategy and depth amidst their basic designs. Knight Squad’s combat is, for the most part, just boring. You grab weapons scattered all over the map, run up to other knights, and then press the action button. Whoever mashes the attack button first while in range wins the bout without much fanfare. There are no dodges or dashes, no interesting power-ups, and most of the game’s many weapons don’t do a lot to spice things up. Maps are too crowded for there to be a reliable strategic benefit to using stuff like bows and laser guns over swords and drills, so most of the time, Knight Squad battles devolve into quickly dissipating scrums of unsatisfying one-shot kills.
Against all odds, though, Knight Squad has enough variance in its modes to keep the game interesting, at least for a little while. There are over a dozen different modes to play. While the standard stuff like Team Deathmatch and Survival are decidedly ho-hum, the devs spilled lots of creative juice into game types like Serial Killer and Arms Race. Plus, a few more traditional game types like Soccer, Domination, and Juggernaut have just the right combination of creative map design and satisfying weaponry to stay fun for more than a round.
Serial Killer and Arms Race are easily the highlights of the entire package in Knight Squad. In Serial Killer, each player is tasked with killing a target among the other combatants. The round goes on until one knight successfully targets and kills every other player in the match. The action naturally spreads across the entire map as players gravitate toward different targets, avoiding boring pile-ups and leading to exciting opportunities to knock out enemies preoccupied with their own targets — the highlight of my entire Knight Squad experience came when I spotted my target knight across the map and dispatched him with a carefully timed arrow that flew down a narrow path and hit him just as he passed by.
Arms Race, meanwhile, has players earn kills with several weapons in Knight Squad’s arsenal, ranging from medieval swords and arrows to bombs, sawblade guns, and more. When you earn enough kills with one weapon, it swaps out with the next. The round ends once some noble warrior downs a handful of knights with each weapon, thus winning the arms race.
Other modes have their moments. Juggernaut is cool because everyone fights over a devastating minigun that is quite fun to wield. Domination is great since the territory control objective adds a strategic layer to the match, keeps everyone from piling up, and can flip in a matter of seconds with powerful items such as an ice cube that freezes the entire other team in place for a few seconds. A few of the rest of the modes are good for a few matches here and there, but many are plagued with boring, basic combat within a few seconds of each round.
Beyond the juxtaposition between inventive modes and melatonin-rush gameplay, Knight Squad just does not have much going for it. The presentation fails, with little more than an uninspiring announcer to draw players in. The soundtrack cannot impress, the visuals are bland, and it’s often hard to see your player amidst giant maps and eight knights that look nearly identical from a bird’s-eye view.
If you want some fresh armor in your Switch local multiplayer rotation, Knight Squad might be a worthy pick-up simply for the assortment of cool, unique modes. There are, however, easily dozens of better choices out there — Ultimate Chicken Horse, TowerFall, Starblox Theater, Retimed, Little Triangle, etc. Even for top-down gunfights specifically, you’d be better off playing the pizza-party-deathmatch Battlesloths. Ultimately, Knight Squad simply does not have the quality of gameplay to take full advantage of its impressive list of modes. A complete experience could have left a mark, but nobody will be knighting Knight Squad when all is said and done.
A review code was provided by the publisher.