Infendo Review – Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove

 

What is it?

Treasure Trove is the 3.0 update to the critically acclaimed game Shovel Knight, and was originally released in 2014 by Yacht Club Games. The game was Kickstarted and exceeded every stretch goal it had. Thanks to those stretch goals, not only did it come to a crazy amount of platforms (3DS, Wii U, PS3/PS4/Vita, Xbox One, Windows/Mac/Linux/Steam, and even Fire Stick!), it also is slated to receive content that they are hoping to have wrapped up by the end of 2017. Beyond what is out now, owners of Treasure Trove will receive a 4 player battle mode akin to Smash Bros., and the King Knight Campaign! But what is Treasure Trove? Treasure Trove is the complete package. The owners of Treasure Trove will own all the content Shovel Knight has to offer, for the incredibly low price of $24.99. That’s Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment, King Knight (TBA), Body Swap Mode, 4 Player Battle Mode (TBA), Challenge Mode, and a playable soundtrack in game!

Shovel of Hope

Shovel of Hope, as it is called now, is the original campaign. You play as Shovel Knight, our shovel wielding, blue armor clad hero. Trying to save his precious Shield Knight from the clutches of The Enchantress. Shovel of Hope sees Shovel Knight take on the Order of No Quarter for his chance at stopping the reign of The Enchantress. To do this, he must defeat her army of 8 hand picked knights, and defeat her where she resides.

Shovel of Hope features callbacks to some of the greatest games of the last 31 years. It features 8 bit graphics, not unlike what you might see on your old NES. In fact, it looks like it could be a lost game of the era. Drawing inspiration from classics such as Mega Man, Mario 3, Zelda 2, and Duck Tales, it captures nostalgia of gamers of an older age, while bringing in younger gamers with its near perfect platforming, amazing sound design, and fantastic story.

Like Mega Man, each level that features a Knight of the Order has a relic hidden in it. Each relic grants you new powers, and figuring out your favorites can turn the tide in battle, as well as the levels you are playing in. In the 3 main sections of the game, you have access to 2-3 levels, and it’s up to you to decide which one to do in what order. Like Mario 3, locks are placed on the map that correspond to a Knight you must defeat to clear the lock and progress. Like in Zelda 2, there are towns to visit. As you find collectibles in the levels, you can trade them in at the towns for other upgrades to your character that will help you out as you progress. And with the gold you collect, there are even more items you can buy from the two main towns in the game.

What makes this game special, however, is the charm. Every character you come across, every well designed stage, every perfectly tuned song, it all comes together to form a package that is truly unforgettable. The attention to detail is astounding. The jokes are fun. It, in my opinion, is as good as a game can get. Even though I already own and have beat it (100% playthroughs on all available campaigns) Digitally on 3DS, physically on 3DS, on PS4/Vita, and on Wii U, as well as own 2 Amiibo, I still made sure this was one OF THE TWO games I had to have on March 3rd, when I bought my Nintendo Switch.

Plague of Shadows

Once you complete Shovel of Hope, you unlock Plague of Shadows. Plague of Shadows, tells the story of Shovel of Hope, from the point of view of Plague Knight. Plague Knight, a member of the Order of No Quarter, is an alchemist. He’s all about his potions. As he and Mona say “The bigger the explosion, the better the alchemist”. In this campaign (which takes place at the same time as Shovel of Hope), Plague Knight is trying to collect an essence from each of the members of The Order, as well as Shovel Knight. Doing so, will see him finding all 8 ingredients he needs to create the most powerful potion in all the lands.

Plague of Shadows sees the player collecting Cipher Coins as you progress through his levels. These coins are used in funding Mona’s experiments, and unlocking Plague Knights upgrades. These upgrades are essential to progressing through the game, because Plague Knight does not control like Shovel Knight does.

Where Shovel Knight can use his shovel like a sword, bounce off enemies heads with his shovel, and jump once, Plague Knight can not. Plague Knight throws potions at his foes that are like bombs, he can double jump, charge jump, and has a wide array of different potions he can brew. You can have short, normal, long, and instantly detonating bombs, You can combine bombs for more powerful blasts. You can have the bombs orbit him, fly up in the air, seek enemies out, etc. He has a completely customizable array of weapons. He is, after all, the alchemist. The platforming is so well done, it really feels like you’re playing a completely different game.

Even though the main level design is the same, the collectables and methods to get through the levels are not. Also, there is a hidden area in each level only he can access. Inside this area is a relic he can not use. This is traded to another character for items he can use.

The striking thing about this campaign, however, is what happens between levels. When you visit the first town, they won’t let you in! You are, after all, a villain. So you have to find another way into town. And when you find your way, guess who strolls into town right at that moment? That’s right. Shovel Knight. And you won’t believe what happens when you show up at the Explodatorium where Plague Knight is found in Shovel of Hope. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s a really fun twist on the story.

Specter of Torment

Specter of Torment is actually a prequel to Shovel of Hope. This campaign sees The Enchantress tasking Specter Knight with forming an order of 8 knights from across the lands to win his freedom back. With each knight that joins the cause, the locket he was given grows in power, only gaining the power to grant his freedom with the 8th knight under her command.

Unlike the previous two campaigns, every level is reworked from the ground up for this story. After all, the areas he is visiting has not been developed by their knight yet as their home. New enemies are introduced, new secrets are there to be found, etc. Even the music is redone. The soundtrack for the first two campaigns feels distinctly medieval, while this one takes on a classical feel. When I saw the release trailer for Specter of Torment, I did not care for it, but now that I have finished the campaign, I am in awe of how well it captures the feel of the campaign. It’s familiar, but distinctly different. It’s perfect.

Specter Knight also controls differently than his predecessors. He swings his scythe very rapidly, and can take down enemies quickly. He can climb up most walls for a short bit, and can also wall jump from wall to wall. But what really sets him apart is his ability to lock onto nearby enemies and jump slash through them. Oh, and he can rail grind, complete with the ability to do tricks! And of course, there’s collectibles and his own version of relics to purchase and find.

Again, though, the story, music, and perfect platforming are what makes this a fantastic campaign. Should you buy Specter of Torment as a stand alone package for $10? No. For $15 dollars more, you get more than quadruple the content. But, that’s just me.

Body Swap Mode

Body Swap mode is exclusive to the Shovel of Hope campaign. It allows you to swap the gender of Shovel Knight, The Order of No Quarter, and the Enchantress. The sprites and animations have been redone, and the text is slightly reworded as well. It does not change the gameplay at all, and there are no significant changes to the story either. In my 25 hours of gameplay, I did not use this mode for more than one level. It’s fun, but it does not change the core experience.

Co-Op

Formerly locked behind the Amiibo paywall, and formerly exclusive to Wii U, Co-Op comes to all console versions of Shovel Knight as of the 3.0 update (Excluding 3DS/Vita). This feature is exclusive to Shovel of Hope. While it can be done with one Joycon per person, the best experience can be had with two sets of Joycons, two Pro Controllers, or some combination of the sort.

Co-Op essentially turns Shovel of Hope into New Super Mario Bros. There is no online option for this, however. But, I have not heard people asking for online Co-Op Shovel Knight either. So, it does not appear to be a big loss.

Again, in my 25 hours I did not play this mode. However, I did try Shovel Knight with a single Joycon, and found it unplayable based on my playstyle. I tend to scroll rapidly through my relics using L/R, and I did not find that as comfortable or responsive with a single Joycon. This can also be done through an onscreen menu, but I find that to be not as quick, and it is not my preference.

Challenge Mode

Once you complete a campaign, a challenge mode for that character unlocks. These are brutally difficult levels, designed around the use of a relic or characters ability. They are generally timed, or you only have X number of attempts before you must re-start. I have tried a couple of these levels. They are not impossible by any means, but are Dark Souls level of hard. If that’s your thing, you’re going to have a great time. I plan on working through them at some point, but I have only done a few of each of them at the time of writing.

Amiibo Functionality

  • Custom Knight

Custom Knight is only available in the Shovel of Hope Campaign. In this extra campaign, you can scan your Shovel Knight Amiibo at any time from the file select screen or map screen, and level him up. As you collect gold, he gains levels. Every so many levels, he gains random power ups. These range from Health/Magic Upgrades, to random relics, to aesthetic changes. And the best part? It’s all RANDOM.

By getting to level 50, you will have access to all he has to offer, but what an adventure getting him there. It’s like a box of chocolates! You never know what you’re going to get! And Custom Knight can also be used in Co-Op. So you can take your L50 Custom Knight to your friend’s house and help him clear that level he’s been stuck on for 3 weeks.

Relics are another fun part about Custom Knight. He does not have the ability to use any of the relics that are collected throughout regular gameplay. He does, however, have access to all the original relics, randomly unlocked, as well as some new abilities. There are new relics he did not have access to before from Shovel of Hope, as well as Plague of Shadows, and even some new ones that are exclusive to the Custom Knight campaign. All in all, $13 is well worth the asking price for this one feature alone.

  • Fairy of Shovelry

With the 3.0 update comes a new NPC. When you talk to this NPC, she will ask if you want to scan an Amiibo to summon a fairy. Should you choose yes, and scan a Shovel Knight Amiibo, she will be able to summon the Fairy of Shovelry. This little guy can help you find hidden money in levels, and give you some ideas of what you can try in levels. But, he has no function beyond that. He can, however, be summoned in any of the campaigns. And you need only scan an Amiibo once. After that, he can be summoned in any campaign on the save file.

  • Challenge Mode

There is also a set of challenges that only unlock when you scan a Shovel Knight Amiibo on the Challenge Mode Menu. You do not need to complete any campaigns to unlock this set of challenges. However, I believe to unlock challenge mode in general, you must have completed Shovel of Hope, as to avoid any spoilers.

Soundtrack

Oh, where do I begin. Ever since the first time I played this game back in 2014, I have had it on my phone. It’s right up there with the Donkey Kong Trilogy, The Zelda 30th Anniversary Game Music Collection, the Mario 30th Anniversary collection, and Cave Story. The music in this game is AMAZING! I even went so far as to download the Kratos and Battletoads music from the Playstation and X Box versions of the game. Every level has it’s own theme, the towns have their own theme. And it’s so good, even when you’re just listening to the music, you can see the levels in your mind.

The soundtrack, done by Jake “Virt” Kaufman, can be purchased from Bandcamp, and the incredibly low price of, well, NAME YOUR PRICE. As little or as much as you want to spend. I’ve given $10 per album, but that’s just me. Even if you take it for free, you should still own this amazing collection. It has helped me through many a rough day at work, and many a mundane task or long car drive.

Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack

All the music from the Shovel of Hope campaign. This is the core of the entire game. All the different campaigns use parts of this collection. If you only get one part, this is the part you should get.

Shovel Knight – Plague of Shadows OST

Plague of Shadows uses almost all the original music from the game, but certain levels and sequences use a slightly remixed theme. There are also areas of the game exclusive to this campaign, and their original songs are here as well. This album also features some bonus “Arrangements” of some of the Plague of Shadows tunes. City of the Damned (an arrangement track) is particularly good.

Shovel Knight – Specter of Torment OST

Specter of Torment does not have a map screen, or as many bonus levels as the other two campaigns, but it does have the second biggest soundtrack in the line-up. It features a lot of new versions of classic songs. As I mentioned earlier, this campaign features more classical takes on the already amazing music. And of the 4 released soundtracks, this is my second favorite. Second only to

Strike The Earth! Shovel Knight Arranged

This takes music from the Original Soundtrack, and adds some fun twists to them. Songs you need to hear include “Hyper Camelot” and “No Sense Running”. I featured them both on Infendo Radio 384, because I enjoy them so incredibly much. Of the 4 parts, this is the one I spend the most time listening to. And the Arrangements from Plague of Shadows.

Final Thoughts

If I had to give this game a score, I would give it a 5 out of 5. After spending several thousand words glowing about it, I think you can understand why. Sure, there are some control issues, sure there are a few modes I am just frankly not interested in. But the fact I have come back to this game multiple times, on multiple platforms, over the last 3 years is a testament to how good it is. I mean, how many games do you know that can pull you away from Breath of the Wild for a week at a time, and cause me to annoy an entire group of friends for over a week because I won’t shut up about it? Only 1 in recent memory. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. If you like great platformers, and you don’t own this game on whatever console you have, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

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