The Backstory: The DS version of that game was one of the first additions to my then budding collection, back in 2012 — if you check my logo picture featuring a space invader sprite created with DS games, you’ll spot it amongst the crew. The cover art and the title immediately struck my fancy; and my interest only grew when I fell in love with Sting after playing Riviera, Hexyz Force, Pandora’s Reflection and Dungeon Travelers 2. Yet, my gaming instinct never compelled me to play that game — but things are different now. My fellow gamer Sieg suggested it in The List’s comments; and since I promised to play all games suggested by my fellow gamers in that context, KitN’s time has (finally) come.
The Game: I first rolled with the PSP version; however, I quickly realised things were not going to work. Not only did the constant loading times piss me off, but the control scheme instantly ruffled my feathers. It was deeply counterintuitive and clumsy; and I couldn’t help but think right away that KitN’s gameplay just screamed “touchscreen controls”. I thus booted up the DS version; and joy and glory, everything felt perfect right away. With no loading time whatsoever and a deliciously intuitive and slick control scheme, I was on a roll.
Or not quite, actually. KitN’s first entry on the title screen is called “Teachings”, which speaks volumes: we’re dealing with a game sporting a complex gameplay that cannot be explained in a single tutorial — nor in two or three, for that matter. Said complex gameplay must be apprehended before diving into the game, and mastered to some extent. This bothered me: given the number of tutorials, I wasn’t sure I could clear them all and play some main game in two hours or less. And yet, I had no choice: I tried launching a new game, and couldn’t figure out a thing in battle. I needed to play these tutorials no matter what; and so I did.
I read and played the whole tutorial section not once, but twice. Once that was done, I was left with two thoughts: a) that’s some seriously meaty and hairy gameplay we have here, and b) I totally wanna play more of it. I launched a new game, cried in joy upon discovering that cutscenes could be skipped, skipped them all thinking I’d come back to them when I played the game proper, fought my first battle… And got my arse completely handed to me. Crestfallen much? You bet! But I tried again, and everything clicked when I figured out something important I hadn’t fully understood despite the mass of tutorials. (For those who know the game: I though dragging a weapon over a Knight was enough to equip said weapon, and didn’t realise you had to hold the weapon there to charge Skills. I was thus attacking with the base weapon and dealing 2 points of damage, and couldn’t finish a single foe.) I was delighted; and as the two-hour mark was drawing close, I decided to stop there.
The Verdict: I’ve seen and played enough of Knights in the Nightmare to know that I wanna play much more of it. I wanna fight more battles, get myself more of that sweet bullet hell and work my magic with the stylus. I wanna read the story, recruit plenty of Knights, and learn more about the strikingly mysterious Armoured Maiden. Last but not least, I wanna see more of these splendid graphics, and bask in KitN’s unique atmosphere. This is the first time I encounter a game that manages to be dark and colourful, grim and light-hearted at once; I can’t fathom how Sting’s Product team A managed to pull that one off, but I sure wanna honour their work by playing much more of it. The PSP version sadly has to go, because I cannot stomach the loading times and the controls; but the DS version is very much here to stay.