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Spiral Knights: The Official MMORPG.com Spiral Knights Review

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Spiral Knights is one of those games that is curiously addictive and seems as if it's a game where players can while away some enjoyable hours. See how it measures up over the long haul. Played Spiral Knights? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

When I first heard about Spiral Knights, I knew I had to give it a go. It looked like an enjoyable top-down, action-adventure game with which to while away the hours, and the fact that the art style is so appealing didn’t hurt either. I naturally assumed that, as the game has thrown out a character-based levelling system and relies on heavy instancing, it would be a bit of a system shock for my poor themepark-attuned sensitivities and force me out of my comfort zone. I was right, but not necessarily in a good way. Three Ring Designs have clearly put a lot of effort into the game but whilst playing it I found myself constantly asking the same question: where the hell is my energy?

Read more Luke Karmali's Spiral Knights: The Official MMORPG.com Spiral Knights Review.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • nhatnhat york, PAPosts: 114Member Uncommon

    Also another problem with this game is the performance. It was a very poor choice to build this on Java. I can't run this web browser game on an atom based processor while I can run other games that look better.

    So basically developers, don't build on games on Java, its resource intensive compare to other platform.

  • ThupliThupli Spokane, WAPosts: 583Member Uncommon

    I personally like the game, but it depends on what you are looking for.

    I dont want to be spending hours upon hours of playing.  This is more of a low-commitment game to unwind with.  If you only play for 1-2 hours a day, it doesn't feel to grindy.

    I'd also say that even though combat seems simple and repetative, changing between weapons and shielding is actually very complex when you start breaking it down.  It's a very tactical game.  On top of that, creatures are resist specific, so you need to be able to cycle your weapons to do damage based on creature type.

    All in all, its a fun game that you can play for about 1-2 hours a day for free and have easy, casual fun.  If you like older SNES style zelda games, it'd definately fun to play it.

     

  • SpectrumizedSpectrumized Frisco, TXPosts: 48Member

    From what I remember from playing Spiral Knights around a year ago, almost all of this review is accurate to the game. With all the instancing (Think just as much as Guild Wars) it is definitely more of a game than an actual world. However, like Thupli has said, it is not a game for those hardcore gear/level grinders to play for hours on end. A couple hours at most is enough for any player that doesn't want to find themselves out of content with max gear in less than a month.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    "The auction house UI lacks a basic search feature, but offers a range of filters. The most useful of these for me was the ability to filter by recipes you know, so as to see what materials you’re missing to craft the armour of your dreams. It’s weird there’s no search, but in the end I found this to be an acceptable workaround."

    Completely wrong.  It has filters, but it also has a search function.  You type in whatever text you want, and it finds everything that matches the text you typed.  It's a simple text match, so it's not as clever as Google, but as auction house search functions go, it's pretty good.

    -----

    "When entering the clockworks you can either go with friends, or let the game randomly pair you with 3 other players. I heartily recommend the former, as the game suffers from a complete lack of vote kick function. Whilst party leaders can remove troublesome members, they seldom do. Given the amount of times I experienced players going AFK midlevel or even spinning around refusing to get on a button, it’s really needed."

    You can also go solo.  Though often, you wanted to be in a group for a reason, and not just so that you could go solo.  So yeah, I agree that a vote kick would be nice on net, even though it does create other problems.

    -----

    "Unfortunately the structure of the game makes it feel very grindy, very fast."

    The point of the game is the combat.  The combat is supposed to be fun for its own sake, not just something that you tolerate so that you can get better gear in a game you hate.  If you don't like the combat, then you're not going to like the game, and it's about that simple.

    But if you do like the combat, then the game isn't grindy at all.  You just go play the game, without constantly getting beat over the head with "you have to do this in order to level".  And then after you play for a while, you're like, oh, I got some loot.  Maybe I should buy something.

    Though in your case, it seems like the problem isn't liking the combat or not liking it.  The problem is that you completely missed the point and didn't even understand what you were supposed to do in combat.  But I'll come back to that in another post.

    -----

    "It’s a great idea in theory, but in practice it’s a bit pointless. The minerals you contribute tend to be but a drop in the ocean when everyone else doing the same.  "

    How the gates are generated is pretty subtle, so I don't really blame you for not figuring it out.  The thing you should have caught but don't seem to is that different gates means different levels available.  You complain that the game is repetitive, and the scenery is perhaps somewhat repetitive, but having gates cycle out means you're not playing exactly the same levels forever.

    Each gate has six strata, one of which is a boss, but you can deposit minerals in any of the other five.  You probably noticed that each stratum has a theme, so one stratum has mostly beasts, while another has mostly fire mobs, etc.  The theme is determined by which two of the mineral colors had been deposited the most in that stratum while the gate was building, unless a particular color is the third most common, in which case, it's random.  That is a global total, though.

    You get some crowns for depositing minerals, and you get more crowns for depositing minerals in a stratum that has fewer of that color relative to the other colors.  Most players simply auto-sell their minerals, which has the game put them in whichever stratum pays the most crowns--and therefore, whichever stratum has the lowest percentage of minerals that color.  This means that the strata end up with about the same color of each mineral.

    However, the number of crowns is highly discrete, and usually 2 or 3, so there are tons of ties.  The game breaks ties in a systematic manner, so that in case of ties, green minerals go in this stratum, blue go in that one, etc.  I'm not sure of the systematic manner that the game breaks ties in, but I'm guessing it's randomly generated when the gate is first created (eight days before it becomes playable), and different for every gate.

    The upshot is that when players deposit minerals randomly in every gate, there will be a lot of near ties, and which colors end up with the most will vary from one gate to the next.  If you want to influence the theme of a stratum, you wait until the gate is nearly done (e.g., 30 seconds before the timer expires), and then dump hundreds of minerals of a single color into it.  You can break the near ties in your direction that way.

    For example, suppose that a stratum has the most reds by a large margin, and then green and blue are essentially tied for second, with purple and yellow far behind.  If the gate ends up red first, then green, then blue, it will be a beast theme.  If red first, then blue, then green, it will be a gremlin theme.  So you can essentially pick whether it is beast or gremlin themed by waiting until the last moment and then dumping hundreds of either blue or green minerals in, to break the near tie in the direction you want.  Well, unless someone else is trying to pick the opposite gate at the same time.

    In this case, your only options are to make it either beast or gremlin themed, and that's pretty typical.  You might have two or three options that you can push for at the last second, but won't be able to create all ten unless you haev an enormous stash of minerals.  And you can't do it every time a gate closes.  You have to save up your minerals and do it now and then for a gate you really care about.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by nhat

    Also another problem with this game is the performance. It was a very poor choice to build this on Java. I can't run this web browser game on an atom based processor while I can run other games that look better.

    So basically developers, don't build on games on Java, its resource intensive compare to other platform.

    Maybe you should try getting a real computer, rather than trying to run real PC games on an architecture meant for cell phones.  The game runs pretty well on a Zacate E-350 based netbook.  And if it runs well on modern netbooks, that puts the game well into "runs on nearly anything" territory.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Regarding the energy system:

    It sounds like you came in thinking the game was going to be completely free to play forever and never try to charge you money.  And if you come in thinking that, you get disappointed pretty quickly.  Hence your anti-energy rant.

    Maybe you were expecting the usual "free to lose" item mall grinder, that essentially gives you a lengthy free trial, and then at some point makes you pay massive amounts of money to progress further.

    Spiral Knights is the opposite of that, really.  It helps if you think of it as "buy to play", akin to Guild Wars.  You do have to pay a fair bit of money early on, or else you're going to progress really, really slowly.  But once you've got four star gear and the skills to handle tier 3, you only burn through energy about half as fast as you get enough loot to buy more, if even that fast.  So at that point, you can play free forever, at the expense of spending perhaps half of your loot to replace your energy.

  • nhatnhat york, PAPosts: 114Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Originally posted by nhat

    Also another problem with this game is the performance. It was a very poor choice to build this on Java. I can't run this web browser game on an atom based processor while I can run other games that look better.

    So basically developers, don't build on games on Java, its resource intensive compare to other platform.

    Maybe you should try getting a real computer, rather than trying to run real PC games on an architecture meant for cell phones.  The game runs pretty well on a Zacate E-350 based netbook.  And if it runs well on modern netbooks, that puts the game well into "runs on nearly anything" territory.


     

    I'm not saying anything bad about the game. The game is quite solid just the Java platform sucks. As a programmer I would stay far away from java if I make a game. As a gamer I have dozen of PCs and all my atom based and low end Pentium 4 PCs can't run this game.

    I wanted to show this game to a friend but his laptop can't run this game.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    And then there is the combat, which is the whole point of the game.  The key to understanding the entire game is this:  you're not supposed to get hit.  That's the main, game-defining feature.  Rather than having to trade hits as in most of the games on this site, you can get out of the way to dodge most attacks, and then block the rest.  Okay, so maybe no one is skilled enough to literally never get hit, and there are a few rare situations (e.g., jelly king) where it's okay to take some hits.  But if you're not at least clearing an entire depth every now and then without taking damage at all, then you haven't caught the subtleties.

    And it doesn't even get a passing mention in your lengthy review.  That's kind of like writing a review of A Tale in the Desert without ever mentioning that the game has a crafting system at all.  You've missed the point.

    And then this is particularly worrisome:

    "I felt I had very little control over my character and I’m dubious whether combat in Spiral Knights and a frenzied game of Minesweeper could be told apart by an objective observer."

    Very little control over your character?  Spiral Knights offers the cleanest, most precise controls of any game I've played since, well, probably Infantry.  And that's going way back.  And yet you had very little control?  You might want to look into getting your gamepad replaced, as it sounds like it's broken.  What gamepad were you using, anyway?  Speaking of which:

    "Attacks are launched by clicking the mouse, whilst holding the button down produces a charge attack from your sword or gun."

    You used the mouse to attack?  Seriously?  I think that just might be your problem.  That's like playing a first person shooter with a keyboard only and no mouse, and then complaining that it's too hard to aim.  Problem exists between keyboard and chair.

    "I’m dubious whether combat in Spiral Knights and a frenzied game of Minesweeper could be told apart by an objective observer."

    Yeah, I'm quoting the same thing twice.  Maybe it depends on the skills of the player that the observer is watching.  Because I don't think that an observer who watches a skilled player clear an entire depth solo without ever getting hit is going to think, "Well that looks chaotic and random."

    "Combat isn’t particularly varied, with the weapons on offer being especially limited."

    The weapon utility is a lot more varied than a single character gets in most MMORPGs.  You get swords, guns, and bombs.  And you absolutely must know how to use all three.  They function totally differently, and have totally different purposes.  They're not at all interchangeable, and there are a lot of situations where you absolutely must have one particular type of weapon or else you're going to be horribly gimped.

    Within a given weapon type, there's still significant variety, with different attack speeds, combo lengths, and so forth.  But if you haven't even figured out how to move around and not get hit, I guess the subtlety would be lost on you.  It's really more something to worry about once you're in tier 3 and have some high level gear.  There are also different damage types, as a lot of mobs are weak against one damage type and strong against another.  You probably didn't get far enough into the game for that to be a major factor, though.

    "There are also bombs and potion vials available, but I didn’t find they added much."

    Bombs are your big AoE weapons for when you're fighting a lot of mobs at once.  Some bombs also inflict conditions, which can be a huge deal.  You can get by without knowing how to use bombs in the introductory stuff.  But come tier 3, you're going to be rather gimpy if you don't have a bomb and know how to use it.  The right four star weapon for the job is a lot better than the wrong five star weapon.

    Health capsules and condition removal capsules are really critical.  Other vials are less important, but still have situational uses.

    -----

    What I think the reviewer really needs is a chance to sit and watch someone who is good at the game play it.  Because he's completely missed the point.  I think it would be a light bulb coming on moment of, oh, that's what you're supposed to do.

    If I sound harsh, then maybe I should be a little nicer.  Your review was a lot better than the PC Gamer one.  That reviewer had more howling factual errors than paragraphs, while you only had one in the entire review that I caught (not seeing the search box in the auction house).

  • TyrokiTyroki Wellington, FLPosts: 183Member

    Lets not forget the fact that for anyone not living in the US, the game lags something fierce.

     

    Also, Quizzical... do you honestly think anyone is going to read your posts when they look like an absolute mess of text? If you're going to quote the article as much as you have in all of your posts, please, for crying out loud, would you make them more READABLE?

    MMO's played: Ragnarok Online (For years), WoW (for a few weeks only), Guild Wars, Lineage 2, Eve, Allods, Shattered Galaxy, 9 Dragons, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Star Trek Online (Got someone ELSE to pay for it), Champions Online (Someone else paid), Dofus, Dragonica, LOTRO, DDO and more... A LOT more. I've played good AND bad. The bad didn't last long. :P

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Tyroki

    Also, Quizzical... do you honestly think anyone is going to read your posts when they look like an absolute mess of text? If you're going to quote the article as much as you have in all of your posts, please, for crying out loud, would you make them more READABLE?

    How do you propose doing that?  I've already broken it into multiple posts, some of which have divider when I change topics.

    If I just say, "You've completely missed the point of the game!" and stop, it looks like the useless invective that clutters far too many Internet forums.  If I proceed to explain the point of the game that the reviewer completely missed, then it gets replies like yours, or perhaps, "too long, didn't read".

  • tleytektleytek Brampton, ONPosts: 107Member

    Don't know if this was mentioned already but if you have a problem with not being able to kick people then just "start you own party" where you are the hgost and can kick freely...

    Aside from that i found alot of stuff i had to disagree with, but im not going to point anymore out.  The game is very energy centric but if you spend 6$ on an elevator pass, you can play as much as you want which is pretty awsome. So to anyone who thinks that the energy limit is holding you back then just buy a pass =D. The only reason i play this game quite often is because it reminds me of Zelda four swords. Anyone remember playing that with all your friends? needing 4 GBA's and the link to connect it to the game cube... so much fun when everyone i knew had it.

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  • BanquettoBanquetto CityPosts: 1,037Member Uncommon

    Took a look at this game during Steam's Christmas Event, it was one of the free games that had an achievement necessary for the event. It didn't hold me long term but I certainly had a few hours of fun from it beyond the bare minimum needed for the achievement. It was quite a small download too, iirc, well under a gig. So I can't see any reason for anyone not to check it out if they're at all curious.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,183Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by nhat

    Also another problem with this game is the performance. It was a very poor choice to build this on Java. I can't run this web browser game on an atom based processor while I can run other games that look better.

    So basically developers, don't build on games on Java, its resource intensive compare to other platform.

    This.  Java is a great teaching tool, but just never designed for much beyond that.  When I see businesses looking for Java programmers, I think, my, what a retarded IT shop they have.  

    Games especially should never be designed using Java.  There are just so many languages out there that out perform it.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    The advantage to using Java and OpenGL (as opposed to Microsoft anything on both counts) is that the game runs natively on Linux and Mac, too.   There's no "wait for me to reboot into a different OS" and no "let's hope that Wine works".  The game will run, and it will work.

    And it's not like the game is struggling on capable gaming machines.  As I said, it runs well on a Zacate E-350 netbook.  The official system requirements lists an ATI Radeon 8500.  That's nine generations before current hardware.  Nine!

    What the person complaining is running into is the simple fact that no matter how low the system requirements for a game are, Intel is still capable of making hardware so slow that it chokes.  Intel did, and the person complaining bought it.

  • HardangerHardanger Appleton, WIPosts: 226Member

    I'm not going to argue against any little points made in the review, however this game is truly great and a hell of a lot of fun for the true casual gamers out there.

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  • Amphib_IanAmphib_Ian cayce, SCPosts: 170Member

    While i was able to just buy the gear i wanted straight off the AH and thus did 0 crafting, and thus saved all my money and energy for the clockworks, i do agree that i'd use all my 24 hours of gameplay in about an hour. to get around stupid players i was soloing the clockworks and locking out guests from joining me. not really social but i was able to get to tier 2 in a couple of weeks without paying a dime. however, at that point i stopped playing as i knew i'd have to spend money to continue AND not a one of my friends liked the game and would join me :( also i HAD to use a controller to play, as the keyboard controls were ... just awful...

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  • ThupliThupli Spokane, WAPosts: 583Member Uncommon

    Szas-

     

    It takes a while to get used to the controls, but if you simply use WASD for movement, and mousebuttoms and the scroll wheel for weapons/changing weapons/sheilding/aiming, it works really well.  Still the controls are different than tab-target play, and it does take time to get used to.

     

    Again, just wanted to point out that as a casual, and a free to play, this game is really great in both respects.  The co-op play is a lot of fun too.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Thupli

    It takes a while to get used to the controls, but if you simply use WASD for movement, and mousebuttoms and the scroll wheel for weapons/changing weapons/sheilding/aiming, it works really well.  Still the controls are different than tab-target play, and it does take time to get used to.

    The problem isn't targeting.  The problem is dodging.  Like you're supposed to do against, oh, just about every single mob in the entire game.  When I had a gamepad break, I tried WASD for movement for a while.  I had more trouble in tier 1 with WASD movement than tier 3 with a gamepad--and with exactly the same gear, even.

    Having a gamepad means that you push the direction you want to go, in any of the eight cardinal directions on a directional pad, and you go in exactly that direction.  Trying to use WASD means you're stuck pressing combinations of keys to move, and that's really, really awkward.  I'm sure that with a lot of practice, I could have become considerably less bad at it.  But there's no real chance that I'd have ended up nearly as good as with a gamepad.

    A large fraction of the game's playerbase seems to think that they use a keyboard for movement and it works fine for them.  But there isn't a large fraction of the playerbase that is actually decent at dodging, so at minimum, the bulk of the players who think keyboard movement works well for them are simply wrong.

    Now, maybe you routinely solo an entire depth in tier 3 without getting hit at all.  That's very doable with a gamepad.  But to be able to do that with a keyboard would be pretty unusual.  And if you've never gone through an entire depth (excluding treasure vault) even in tier 2 without getting hit, then no, keyboard movement isn't working well for you, at all.

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,758Member Uncommon

    Never played it, but snce when have 'simple controls' been a Pro? Design online games for players above six years old and we might play them.

  • ThupliThupli Spokane, WAPosts: 583Member Uncommon

    Scot- It's a different style.  The focus is not on the controls, but what to use when.  Mastering when to sheild, knockbacks, switching to range, kiting is what the game is about not macros and 20 hotkeys.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,779Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Scot

    Never played it, but snce when have 'simple controls' been a Pro? Design online games for players above six years old and we might play them.

    I thought the old ideal was, easy to learn, difficult to master.

    Though one could question just how simple the controls are, given that the reviewer didn't seem to figure them out.

  • Time-KeeperTime-Keeper Kailua, HIPosts: 2Member

    Well, everyone will be shocked by the update of August that has completely changed all to the energy aspects. Give it another go MMORPG.com and tell me how you think it is now?

    Time-Keeper
    I keep the world going.

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