Research – Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is a game I have taken a great interest in recently due to a number of reasons, primarily the simplicity of the game in both its visuals and mechanics while still managing to keep a level of difficulty. I would like to use some of the mechanical design aspects of this game and use them in my own project.

The largest appeal of Shovel Knight is its retro art style – The game is presented in 16-bit graphics, where the player controls an armoured knight using a shovel as a weapon. There are two main aspects to its gameplay, the map and the platforming.

The majority of the game is done in its platforming, where the player is required to navigate and fight through the levels and defeat a boss at the end in order to continue their progression through the game. Through the levels, the player is faced with a multitude of enemies and obstacles. The player is also rewarded for exploring levels, finding hidden areas and defeating enemies with treasure. The games combat is fairly simplistic, consisting of 2 main attacks – swinging a shovel in an arc in front of the player character, or jumping and aiming the shovel downwards causing any enemies being landed on to be severely hurt.

Another aspect of Shovel Knights combat is the enemy AI. Each enemy attacks in a pattern, with normal enemies that are encountered having very simple consistent movement and attack patterns. Mini bosses have a higher number and more complex movement and attack patterns, requiring the player to react differently and think about their combat approach further. Bosses have the largest number of attack and movement patterns, usually changing them through the duration of the fight, as well as dealing the largest amount of damage. A player can learn to overcome these enemies by remembering the patterns and playing around them, exploiting points of vulnerabilities to strike their opponent and deal damage, and continuing this process until the enemy is defeated.

I would like to implement similar mechanics into my project, keeping a focus on combat and adding a form of collectible or score tracking. I would like to keep the combat similar to Shovel Knight – simple and easy to pick up, but impactful. Enemies that are not bosses or mini-bosses should only take a few hits to defeat, and doing so should reward the player in some way, such as increasing their score. The AI is also something I would like to implement in a similar fashion, having any enemies I place in my levels follow a predictable pattern-based AI and having the player overcome and defeat these enemies by exploiting the pattern. Although I do not plan to have a boss at the end of my level.