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Game Info:

Spiral Knights
Developed By: Grey Havens, LLC
Published By: Grey Havens, LLC
Released: June 14, 2011
Available On: macOS, Windows, Linux
Genre: Action, MMORPG
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: Online Multiplayer (4 per mission)
Price: Free-to-Play with in game transactions and DLC

Spiral Knights is a free to play MMORPG style game that was originally designed by Three Rings on June 14, 2011 and has switched hands a few times before finally being placed in the lap of Grey Havens. Though the game was programmed in Java (most games use Unity these days), the game is beautiful in its entirety. The setting is a mix of fantasy and tech, and the mechanics might remind you of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords style combat. This is a great game if you want to grab a Steam buddy and have a simple fantasy adventure, and the price is right for most people (free!). There are some in-game transactions and a small piece of DLC, but none of these get in the way of enjoying the game as a whole.

You start the game as a knight with a few customization options. There is no gender option as you rather give your character a look to resemble who you would want to be. You can choose a controller option, or the standard WASD movement and mouse. The first few hours of the game you are put through some solo missions so you can learn the basic mechanics (or if you can find a friend you can do these with them, but finding a random person at this stage of the game is difficult). After walking away from your crash site, you find you are trapped on a unique planet that seems to have a changing environment beneath its surface called the Clockworks. This area is aside from the set missions, and is a randomly generated progressional level that leads to the core of the planet - making for some awesomely diverse play.

Each knight is given two sets of armor, a shield, and two weapon slots. (You can have up to 4 weapon slots and 2 trinket slots if you purchase upgrades, but those can be purchased with in-game currency.) There are three types of weapons: bombs, swords, and guns. Bombs provide an area of effect (AOE) type damage and status effects, swords do mostly raw damage up close, and guns do less damage but with the safety of distance. There are 4 types of damage in the game: normal, shadow, elemental, and piercing. Both you as a knight and the enemies of the Clockworks deal and receive more or less damage depending on what line of weapons and armor you choose. For example: fiends deal shadow damage, but take more damage from piercing weapons - so if you proceed to a level dominated by fiends you'd want a piercing weapon and armor that offered shadow resistance.

Spiral Knights
Highlights:

Strong Points: Beautiful music and charm from start to finish;  helpful community;  very little grinding until late game
Weak Points: The game has hit stagnation with growth and content updates
Moral Warnings: Mild fantasy violence; mild magic with no source reference; ghosts and fiend-type monsters

After you finish the first couple of missions, the game will spit you out in Haven.  Haven is the town that has been set up by the knights and the local inhabitants of the planet called "The Strangers."  This area is the general queue and meeting place for all the knights before heading off into missions or diving into the Clockworks.  If you wander around long enough, you'll get to see some veteran players with some amazing costumes.  A lot of the people I meet are eager to assist when asked - provided you're not just asking for a handout.  This area itself has a nice feel to it with calm music and funny looking helicopter birds flying about.  East of the main Haven you'll find Guild Halls where people have spent months and years building up the interior of their personal space.

Almost every mission (and every Clockworks run) has space for yourself and 3 other party members. In the Coliseum (Player vs. Player or PvP) there can be up to 6v6 in one setting. I personally have always been a fan of fewer party members in a co-op game, as it can make your own character have more of an impact on the task at hand. Through your character development, you'll find that it's better to focus on a certain type of play style rather than be a jack of all trades. I chose to go the way of the gun, so I equipped myself with a blaster and armor that added damage to my guns. Though I wasn't the most damage-dealing party member, I had a greater survival rate and was able to take out the gun turrets with others holding their shields in front of me. I met another character who had a huge variety of bombs. One would light the enemy on fire, one would freeze them in place, and another would blast them away to clear some space for us to move in.

You'll eventually hit a bit of a wall with the Forge heating system, but that won't be until quite a few hours in. This may lead to a bit of grinding to reach and defeat the harder areas of the game, but the experience you have with other players in the Clockworks will make the time you invest enjoyable rather than a chore. There are quite a few bosses in the game that are tricky to defeat, and all the monsters' difficulties scale with the amount of people in the run. Despite the depth surrounding the other bosses in the game, my favorite boss still has to be the Jelly King.

Spiral Knights
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 87%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The game doesn't go too deep into moral or transcendent issues. The struggle for survival and finding one's place after crash landing are at the surface of the game, with diving into some NPC depth as the story progresses. All blood is replaced with bars of health which fly off a character when hit, and the game as a whole is mostly gender neutral. Sometimes the only way you know a character's gender is with the personal pronouns used during NPC dialog. It is what it's meant to be - a nice work of art with those involved working toward a common goal. There's not much here to sneak in through the back door of the imagination besides the mild fantasy violence. The dialogue has no swearing in it, and there's a profanity filter that covers multiple languages for player-to-player conversations.

Though characters and monsters do have powers, magic is not specifically mentioned or focused on from what I can see. It has about a strong of a reference to magic as Pokémon does to their different abilities - not specifically an occult reference. The closest thing resembling magic would be the gremlin menders who hold magic wands and produce healing circles, but their specific source of power isn't mentioned. There are different elements in the game mainly dealing with damage and defense. The Shadow Element is one of those, and there are undead characters as well as "fiends" who attack using this ability. To quote the wiki, "The Undead Family consists of ghosts and skeletons which haunt the Clockworks (although no one seems sure exactly what creatures these ghosts and skeletons came from!)" - https://wiki.spiralknights.com/Monster.

I've been playing this game off and on since its release, and have enjoyed almost every moment of it. You'll have moments where you meet disgruntled players (mostly in the PvP setting things can get rather heated), but if you're not a fan of that the regular game is awesome. If you do dive down into a mission, be sure you leave your party open (there's an option to make it private or allow any to join). I know a lot of veteran players who wait for moments like these to bring in their big guns and show you what you could potentially become. Though it's been out for a few years, this game is very solid. I strongly recommend it to all ages!

God's Best,
Good-Spirit

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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