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Knight Squad – Hands On at GDC

Knight Squad from Chainsawesome Games borrows from both Bomberman and Gauntlet to deliver hectic eight player madness.

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When I made my way into the ID@Xbox area in the Moscone Center, Knight Squad jumped out at me right away. The character design, movement and actions all instantly reminded me of the classic arcade game Gauntlet. Instead of a group of four working together to move through a scrolling level, as Gauntlet would, Knight Squad takes the familiar aesthetics and pits eight (locally on one console or online) players against each other in a confined arena akin to a Bomberman game.

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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to play a match with more than two human players, but Chainsawesome Games accounted for that by including bot support in Knight Squad.

In the headlining mode, Grail, players fight to bring the golden chalice back to their respective spawn point. Earning the most points in a match is the goal, with points being awarded for enemy kills and grail captures.

My first time with the game I felt at home running straight into battle swinging my sword. The sword swing is on a brief, but noticeable cool down which prevents players from spamming attacks. I found myself on multiple occasions swinging my sword slightly too far away from my enemy and then falling to their blade as they closed the gap with only my poor timing to blame. Sword clashing occurs when players happen to swing at the same time. Usually I would find myself in sync with an enemy bouncing our attacks focused on our duel when a third or fourth player would just walk up behind us and kill us both.

The basic combat is fun, fast and hectic enough on it’s own but to make things more extreme Knight Squad also has power ups and different weapons that can appear on the battlefield. I picked up the bow a few times and was able to take out enemies surrounding the grail without putting myself in the range of a blade. Speed boots, shields and bomb power ups make matches crazier and strengthen comparisons to Bomberman.

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Chainsawesome Games understands that it can be difficult to get eight people with eight controllers all in the same room, which is one of the reasons they included bots, but they also give players the option to play online with friends if you still prefer to play with other human players.

The full game will include a variety of free-for-all and team based modes. In addition to the Grail mode, there is also a 4v4 capture the flag and FFA last man standing. Knight Squad is helping usher in a new renaissance of local player games.

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Knight Squad is shaping up to be another great example of the ID@Xbox program and gives XB1 owners more reasons to pick up additional controllers. Expect Knight Squad to hit Xbox One and Steam in late spring/early summer. If you just can’t wait, head over to KnightSquadGame.com and buy the Steam Early Access program.

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