Shovel Knight returns for the third time to PAX East in Boston, but now that the successfully Kickstarted game has been out for a while now, and a huge success, what's left to show?
Turns out there is an entire game's worth of content just waiting to come out in a new downloadable expansion. And even better than that, it's all free.
The free DLC centers around a new playable character, Plague Knight, that green-hooded curmudgeon in an old-timey doctor's mask who was a boss character in the original game. But now he takes the stage in his own campaign that remixes the levels of the original game, changes the controls, and adds new items, enemies, bosses and a new crafting system.
The tutorial level, for example, lacks certain platforms that you were able to jump on when you took control of Shovel Knight. But Plague Knight has a triple jump that gives him considerably more air time than Shovel Knight. It can be tricky to pull off though; you have to hold the attack button to charge, then jump, jump again, and release the charge so Plague Knight can propel himself upwards using explosive power. It looks and feels great, and differentiates the two characters and their playstyles in a charming way; Shovel Knight is more conservative and honorable, while Plague Knight is a dirty cheater who uses bombs.
Explosives are the name of the game for Plague Knight in general. Rather than a close-range shovel attack Plague Knight uses the same moveset he had when he was a boss. That means lots of explosive vials that he can toss at a pretty good distance. When he chucks them in the air he also gets a split-second lift that allows him to stay airborne. Keep throwing explosives, and he stays afloat. This makes Plague Knight much more destructive than the relatively weaker Shovel Knight. It also makes most basic enemies in the tutorial level a breeze. Slimes and skeleton knights are laid to waste with ease, but the dragon that shoots bubbles poses a challenge as its attacks keep Plague Knight from getting into the air to attack. There's a good balance between power and vulnerability, at least in the PAX East demo.
Plague Knight's playable campaign (there is a whole new story that coincides with the original game's) is the first of several planned stretch goals Yacht Club has in store from when Shovel Knight was crowdfunded through Kickstarter. You will need a copy of Shovel Knight to download Plague Knight's story, which will be available this spring on everything including PC, Vita, PS3, PS4, 3DS, Wii U, to Mac and Linux.
Photo Credit: Yacht Club Games