Say I took a Medieval clockwork theme and slapped it onto Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, and accidentally spilled some annoying MMO elements all over the place. That’s Spiral Knights in a nutshell. A warning to MMO seekers out there: Free to play means “pay to actually enjoy” more often than not. In this case, it means “pay to enjoy higher levels and consistent playtime.” But hey, it’s not without its good points.
To start, gameplay revolves around 3rd person top-down real-time combat that takes place in dungeons. Players have the capacity to carry 100 mist energy and infinite crystal energy, both of which are needed to enter dungeons, open doors, and perform other actions. Mist energy fully regenerates over the course of 22 hours, while crystal energy can be bought with in-game currency (Crowns) or real money.
The RPG element in Spiral Knights is unique because your character isn’t what levels up. Instead, your equipment does. Gathering Heat while using your armor and weapons makes them stronger, subsequently allowing you to proceed into deeper dungeons without worrying about being murdered. Not worrying so much, at least.
There’s a light selection of armaments to choose from: swords, shields, guns, and bombs. Defensive items include armor, helmets, trinkets, and accessories. Each levels up as your character gathers Heat in any dungeon. Crafting allows you to upgrade your weapons and add elemental/status effects to them, or to create goodies from scratch. Crafting requires a lot of energy and Crowns, so don’t expect to get everything you need in one run. There’s always the player market if you’re missing some vital components. Again, an expensive choice.
Nearly forgot to explain the controls. Right click to attack, left click interact, hold left click to walk towards the cursor. Spacebar to switch weapons. Number keys activate items picked up in the field, like poison vials or health packs. It’s been a while since I’ve played, so that’s all I remember.
The aforementioned “annoying MMO elements” absolutely ruin the game for me, to get that out there. Where most games have a difficulty curve, Spiral Knights has a cost curve. If you want quality equipment and you don’t want to spend real money, the time it takes to acquire the needed materials expands from a day to a week to a month. If you don’t mind dropping some real cash, you can keep the flow consistent.
Multiplayer factors in, though. If the prices don’t bother you, you can dungeon crawl with a bunch of buddies. First come first serve for loot, so be quick, or try to split it evenly. The community is mediocre, so it’s probably best to bring your own crew.
I’m not alone in being irritated by the inconvenient costs. Tom Senior of PCGamer calls Spiral Knights “fast, accessible, and fun, until the spiteful pricing system pops up to punch you in the face.” That’s all there is to it. I recommend Spiral Knights to fickle people who like experimenting with random MMOs and spontaneously dropping them like bad conversations. Here’s the review link: http://www.pcgamer.com/review/spiral-knights-review/