KNYTT + KNYTT STORIES / Nifflas / PC
Knytt is a lovely, atmospheric exploration game that casts you as a sort of human-rodent fusion who can scale walls. Your little avatar gets kidnapped by aliens and then just as suddenly shot down over an unfamiliar planet, and you spend the entirety of the game exploring the planet in order to find pieces of the ship that have been scattered all over. Jumping and climbing is all you will do in this one; the only other button you have is a beam that points you in the general direction of the nearest spaceship part. If you think this sounds simple or tedious, you haven't seen the topography of the planet; getting to each spaceship piece is a long journey in which there is rarely a straight path from Point A to Point B, and you'll be tasked with memorizing where routes lead as well as using your wall-climbing skills to overcome obstacles and time precision jumps off of walls over deadly pits and traps.
The gameplay is easy to immediately pick up, yet compelling and fun. The journey itself is worthwhile, as the backgrounds are colorful and diverse, and often teeming with characters going about their daily lives completely oblivious to your adventure. The music also employs an ambient style of short clips that fade in and out as you explore certain areas, which will likely cause veteran gamers to recall Delphine classics Out of this World and Flashback.
The only knocks I can make against the game are that it first of all just doesn't last long enough - maybe two to three hours of gameplay here at the absolute maximum before you've recovered all the ship parts and are on your way. The other thing is that it can get frustrating in the later going, when you go to retrieve the more far-flung ship parts, it is easy to accidentaly go down a path that forces you to retread a long swath of territory that you already went through, which is annoying (no automap here, make your own or keep it all in your head).
Knytt Stories adds a lot to the Knytt mix - a greater variety of traps and enemies, more challenging gameplay, a more Metroid-like style where you gain powers gradually, even more lovely background graphics and music. But perhaps the most important new addition is the ability to make your own worlds, with a fairly simple level editor that is included, and to download and play the worlds of others (of which literally hundreds are available at this writing). Even third-party tools that expand the game engine can apparently be developed; however, since this is still fairly new, I wasn't able to find any to explore just how much you can modify the existing structure. Still, this offers up all sorts of playtime (some really clever and wonderful add-ons worlds have been created already) as well as great potential for future development and expansion. It looks like Knytt is a world I will be spending a lot of time in, and I encourage you to drop by and do the same. These are really special games, and the essence of what free, creative, independent gaming is about.
* Gameplay Video