Spiral Knights (2011) - Review for Pc/Mac/Linux/Web
Having been tipped off about a sale on Steam, I was browsing through for some bargains when I came across a free game. Downloading it was a no-brainer - in my current financial state I'm always up for playing a free game or even a trial version!
I won't bore you with the premise, but Spiral Knights is essentially a 'massively multiplayer online role playing game" (a phrase which quite sensible is usually shortened to MMORPG), published by Sega and developed by Three Rings, in which you can either play missions alone or join a team of up to four people to take on a series of levels.
As for the gameplay it's very much like a Zelda game! The view is halfway between the 'Link To The Past' and 'Phantom Hourglass' style, with mouse controls making it play a bit like the latter. As it's usually four player the obvious comparison is 'Four Swords', which is due to be released for free on Nintendo DSi (in the UK at least).
Obviously it's not as complex as a Zelda game, with puzzles generally being quite simple, but the battles are similar, with a simple 'slash at the enemy' mechanic.
Once inside the levels you compete for items dotted around or dropped by enemies, which you can then trade to buy better equipment or collect to make new stuff.
For free players you basically get one or two hours a day before you run out of energy, but Sega give you the option of buying more energy should you wish to keep on playing. As I've got enough stuff going on I'm happy enough with the short blast of gaming the free service provides but obviously 'buying in' gives those players an advantage. I'd say there's enough people playing for free to make it worthwhile for those who don't want to spend their every waking moment on it to give it a go. There does seem to be a community developing already for those who want to pend a little more time there.
Graphics wise it's very good for what it essentially a browser game - I'd say Nintendo DS quality graphics but obviously bigger. Characters are customizable and you can change your look as you get more equipment.
Sega have reported that over a million people have now played the game, and as more people become aware of it this is only likely to increase. From reading around I've found that reaction has been a mixture of genuine surprise at how good it is to sneering from people looking for something 'more hardcore', but as someone who has increasingly little time and money for gaming it's a good way to waste an hour or so.
It's still a little glitchy in places, and as with everywhere online there's the occasional idiot trying to ruin it for everyone, but for the most part it works.
In short it's free, you can play it via Steam or the Spiral Knights website, and as it's Java based it should work on all operating systems. I gave it a go and I'm happy I did! Perhaps I'll see some of you there!