As we reported during last week’s Game Awards, Yacht Club Games debuted new footage of the upcoming Spectre of Torment DLC for their hit game Shovel Knight. They also posted an extended version of the trailer to their YouTube channel and an announcement on their site the same day. Development of this expansion is part of a stretch goal from the game’s 2013 Kickstarter that brought us last year’s Plague of Shadows, and will let players take on the role of one of the original game’s bosses, Spectre Knight, in an all-new campaign. Since Shovel Knight is one of my all-time favorite games, I wanted to talk a little about its DLC and this announcement.
What Plague of Shadows delivered was beyond my personal expectations. The original stretch goal promised to allow players to “play the full game as a member of the Order of No Quarter”, and indicated that “even the story and dialog [sic] will change a little bit to reflect the changes”. This sounded like it could have been just a sprite and moveset swap with some minor script alterations, but Plague Knight was instead given his own full story arc that ran parallel to the core game, and a unique control scheme with customizable powerups and special abilities. Players traversed the same levels but found branching paths in many of them that led to new areas and challenges tailored to Plague Knight’s new skills. Critical reception of the DLC was generally positive, with a few complaints about the radical differences in how Plague Knight handled and the reuse of many of the existing levels and music. The latter of these could really only be addressed with the creation of an entirely new game, meanwhile, I think what Yacht Club Games created was pretty good considering that they spent roughly one million dollars to develop DLC that was released for free.
Having said that, a new game seems to be exactly what we’re getting with Spectre of Torment. Not only will it feature a new story, but also new areas, enemies, music, weapons, armor, bosses, and even new tactics for old bosses. According to the official site:
Does that sound like a new game?! Well, that’s because we’re building Specter of Torment from the ground up so that it can be a completely unique standalone experience.
While Plague of Shadows followed an alternate parallel campaign, Specter Knight travels a new path in this amazing prequel. It’s your mission as Specter Knight to recruit the Order of No Quarter for The Enchantress! Specter Knight’s campaign truly is his own adventure, and we can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on it this Spring.
Sequences in the trailer that are clearly flashbacks give a glimpse of the backstory that the DLC will tell. Two knights travel together in sepia-toned scenes and encounter Shield Knight, who warns them to keep away from what appears to be a stone or gem being bathed in energy. We also see the knight that most resembles (and presumably becomes) Spectre Knight at the mercy of the Enchantress’ power. Both the core game and its single expansion have done a wonderful job of making characters interesting and likeable, and have featured stories that have heart without being overdramatic or campy, so I’m excited to see what Spectre Knight’s tale adds to the overall narrative.
In terms of gameplay, Spectre Knight’s mobility appears to have been based on his original boss battle, just as Plague Knight’s was, and there’s a peek at some of the new armor and items. It seems that contests of strength will be integral in the quest to recruit the other knights, as several shots show battles against the Order of No Quarter with new twists and added elements. I’m hoping that at some point Spectre Knight visits Shovel Knight in his life of solitude so that we get a better look at what happened after Shield Knight’s disappearance.
It’s amazing how much effort and care Yacht Club Games are putting into Shovel Knight. They seem to be dedicated to going above and beyond with their DLC, and I’ve got high hopes for Spectre and King Knight’s outings, which are being developed simultaneously.
Spectre of Torment is currently advertised for release in Spring of 2017 and will be freely accessible through the main Shovel Knight game, which is available on PC, 3DS, Wii U, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and Amazon Fire TV.