Knight Squad 2 Review

This month Chainsawesome Games brings Knight Squad 2 to the Xbox platform, the sequel to the hectic medieval-combat arena party game Knight Squad. Chainsawesome Games is the developer and publisher for both entries in the series. Just like the first game, up to eight players can play the game simultaneously locally and/or online. The second entry makes a few changes and adjustments such as a graphics overhaul as well as some interesting additions, like a few new gameplay modes. Will these changes be enough to attract new players to the series as well as draw in all the players of the previous game? 

The first game gained a large player base thanks to its inclusion in both Games with Gold and Xbox Game Pass, and for the fans who enjoyed that, you’ll be happy to learn that the core gameplay remains the same. Attack (A) the opposing knights using your starting weapon or a weapon you picked up from item spawn points around the arena. You can only have one weapon at a time and some are much more useful than others. The laser and bazooka are both very powerful; however, most of the ranged weapons take a little more skill to use effectively. One hit normally kills an enemy, but in the sequel, the knights have been given the ability to block (B) with their shield. I was so used to the gameplay in the first game that I barely used the shield while playing the second game. Most of the weapons become stronger if you pick up another item drop of the same type. The regular level one drill has a short cool down between uses, but the level two drill increases in size and can be used continuously. If you have a weapon you like, be careful not to accidentally walk through a different item, because you will switch to that one instead. The second instalment has a good selection of weapons, most if not all from the first game make a reappearance, and there might be a few new ones as well.

There are eight knights to choose from when you start the game and each one has their own color. Each of the primary and secondary colors of a color wheel are represented as well as pink and a white/black combo. They each have their own slightly unique look, but the gameplay is the same for all of them. If you go to the Knight screen from the main menu you can get a better look at them all and read a short, somewhat humorous description of each one. There are at least five additional knights to unlock by meeting various criteria, which is hinted at by looking at their locked page in the Knight section. The bonus knights are all much more interesting looking than the regular ones, my favorite is Sushi who looks like a samurai. There’s also Salmon, who’s color is salmon pink and has a fish-shaped helmet. Each Knight has a special sword that is unlocked once you kill 1000 opponents with that specific knight. I was really excited to see if the sword did anything special, but after unlocking it for Solo, the purple knight, I can’t see any benefits for earning it; in fact, you can’t really even tell he’s using it during a match.

The first game had around nine game modes, each mode has unique win conditions and different gameplay elements. All of the original modes make a return in Knight Squad 2 except Last Man Standing, which has been renamed Battle Royale. Perhaps the new name is an attempt to jump on the hot trend bandwagon, however, the rules are exactly the same – it’s just last man alive out of eight players. It would have been really cool if they upped the player count for that mode to 16 or 32 and made some larger maps, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. 

Each game mode has different win conditions; for example Capture the Grail and Capture the Flag have you obtaining the item in the title and bringing it back to your base. You can kill the other players in all the modes and in about half of the modes, the main objective is killing opponents. Gladiator rewards the player who kills the most enemies in the center section of the map. Juggernaut has a minigun at the center of each map that makes quick work of the other combatants, but everyone is going to try to get it. Soul Hunter, one of the new modes, rewards points for killing enemies and then returning to your spawn point with their souls before you yourself are killed. Another new mode that is fun and leads to hectic matches is Payload. For that mode, there is a track winding from one side to the other with a cart starting at the middle. The cart has a small circle around it and the cart moves towards the goal of whichever team has control of the circle.

The two modes that I had the most fun playing are both new to this entry: Painter and Race. In Painter the winner is decided by whoever has walked around the arena and left the most of their color paint on the ground, you can paint on top of other knight’s paint by walking over it. Race is just a race around a walled-off course the size of the screen, there are boost lines and you also get a boost by killing another player. The modes and gameplay within are by no means ground breaking but in small bursts can be fun, even just against bots. 

The matches are played in arenas that are the exact size of your television screen. Each mode has four arenas that are unlocked one at a time by winning matches in the previous arena. Just like the first game the view is top-down, but one big difference is that everything is rendered in 3D for the second game, which for the most part makes the game look much more polished; however, it doesn’t seem like it has as many assets or obstacles in the environment so at the same time it feels a little generic and bland. It is nice though to be able to look at the 3D models of the knights in the selection screen and during the matches, everything casts a shadow which gives a feeling of depth. An aspect of the art, or more specifically the HUD, that I do not like are the words that pop up in the middle of the screen informing the players of multi-kills. Most of the action takes place in the middle of the screen and the game is fast-paced and usually very hectic, so when the kill streaks pop up right in the middle you temporarily can’t see what’s happening there, and one of the knights is almost always earning a killstreak.   

One of the new additions that improves the gameplay is the game variant options menu. Each mode has its own match options like time length or rounds, but the variant options menu lets you customize most aspects of each match. You can change the starting weapon and its power level, select which items will spawn during the match, set the bot difficulty, the item spawn rate, and apply modifiers to the match like exploding corpses or slippery floors. You can save the settings to one of four pre-set slots which comes in handy when working on the achievement list. I set up a match where everyone started out riding a horse and carrying a bazooka, and of course I set the corpses to explode.

One aspect that is missing in Knight Squad 2 is the Challenges mode. I thought that mode was a unique element of the first game that added gameplay value, especially when playing by yourself. Hopefully, they can add some challenges into this game in an update down the line. Perhaps in an effort to make up for the missing challenges they implemented a Tourney mode which when selected lets you play three consecutive matches in three different game modes, I found this to be more exciting than a regular match and nice since you don’t have to set up everything in between each game, instead you just go straight from one game mode to the other. Playing this mode online would probably be a lot of fun, though by virtue of having early access I’ve yet to be able to test this out.

The sound design seems pretty similar to the first game and doesn’t stand out. An aspect that does stand out is the announcer who is constantly shouting out killstreaks and pointing out who the current leader is, all of which quickly gets annoying. The sound effects for all the weapons and items are adequately done considering the large number of choices there are. As far as I know, none of the knights have any dialogue, but it would have been kind of neat if they said a cheesy line after they won a match.

Conclusion

If you’re a big fan of the first game then Knight Squad 2 is more of the same. There are a few new game modes that are fun and the variant options allow for some unique customization, but overall this sequel doesn’t really stand out. It’s essentially the same game, with a few new things and missing some stuff from the first game. It can be fun in short bursts or with some friends, but I don’t see the player base being anywhere near as large as the first unless it’s included in GwG or Game Pass like the first one was. In addition, the price tag of $15 seems a little steep for a few new game modes and an updated art style.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Lots of game modes, surely you'll find something you like
  • Expanded game options menu, makes earning achievements easier
  • New 3D graphics overhaul
Bad
  • Pretty much the exact same game as the first one
  • Gameplay gets stale quickly
  • HUD annoyingly blocks the screen
6.3
Okay
Gameplay - 6.2
Graphics - 7.3
Audio - 6
Longevity - 5.8
Written by
I started my gaming odyssey playing 8-bit console and arcade games. My first Xbox was the 360 and I immediately fell in love with achievement hunting and the overall ecosystem. That love was cemented with my purchase of an Xbox One. I play a bit of everything, but I usually end up playing fast paced games that remind me of my days spent in dark, smoky arcades spending quarter after quarter, telling myself "one more try!". Gamertag: Morbid237.

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