I bought Shovel Knight for the second time when I picked up my Nintendo Switch because it is just the perfect platformer for on the go play. I knew that the next expansion had just come out so once I tucked Breath of the Wild under my belt, I dove head first back into shoveltry. But this time, I’d be playing as Specter Knight in Specter of Torment!
I love Yacht Club games because they have slowly but surely delivered on their stretch goals of the Shovel Knight kickstarter. I get so excited when I hear that another boss knight from the original game is now playable. They impressed me the first time around with the Plague of Shadows expansion and they’ve done it once again. They add such great characterization to the all the bosses and expand on the lore so well with each new piece of the Shovel Knight story.
This time Shovel Knight does not appear at all, however, because the story is set in the past before the Order of No Quarter from the original game was established. As Specter Knight, you serve the Enchantress and your job is to recruit the eight knights needed for her unstoppable force. In order to do so you must go to their lair and defeat them so that they are convinced to join you and the Enchantress. Along the way you learn the backstory to Specter Knight and why he was the first knight in the order. His tragic tale is one that makes you sympathize with the boss that I hated fighting so much in the original game.
The story is told through various flashbacks that you play between every few levels. In them, you see Specter Knight before he was transformed into essentially the grim reaper and learn about his mission with his friend to capture an amulet. It’s hard not to spoil too much without going further so I’ll stop there. The overall level design remains the same, generally speaking, with little additions to make it more suited for how Specter Knight plays. There isn’t a map that you travel around in this expansion but that is made up for your home base being the Tower of Fate which is very fun to explore.
The combat works differently with Specter Knight just like it did with Plague Knight. When you get close enough to an enemy there is a small line that appears across them which then allows you to dash toward and hit them. Several enemies take more than one hit but the general concept is the same for each. You have abilities to use called Curios which you can purchase with the collectable that you’ll find hidden in each level: red skulls. Once you have enough, you can buy a new Curio that allows you to hover, slow time, shoot a scythe, dash, etc. You can also spend your money on armor (like one that allows you to grind surfaces!!) or upgrading said curios to make them better.
I would play through every single boss knight’s campaign if they made them because they are such a fresh take on the overall game that just brings it right back to life. But sadly they only have one more planned before they move on to hopefully an even better venture. There really was only one thing that bothered me about this expansion. They do a good job siphoning your powers out to you throughout the game and not making you was too OP off the bat. However, towards the end of the game I was beating bosses without even worrying about getting close to death. It was way too easy to just destroy certain bosses and I ended up strictly worrying about platforming being my downfall. I just wanted a bit more of a challenge, the same one that I felt in the original.
Overall, giving us the context for Specter Knight was really awesome and I absolutely enjoyed hearing his backstory. The mechanics were fresh and gameplay still exciting as ever. The art for the Tower of Fate was great and there are plenty of secrets and challenges to achieve. If I had struggled a little more toward the end I might be apt to give this one a perfect score but I just felt a little too powerful when it was all said and done. In the end I give Specter of Torment a 4.5 out of 5 Edge Lords.