Knytt Underground

I'm going to assume that you don't know very much about the origins of Nifflas's Knytt Underground. Don't worry - I hadn't heard of it either.

Created by one man by the name of Nicklas Nygren - or Nifflas - Knytt Underground is a spiritual sequel to previous PC indie games Knytt and Knytt Stories. It also contains more than a dash of another early title called Within a Deep Forest.

While this is quite possibly the game that Nifflas has been building up to making for years, Knytt Underground doesn't require you to know anything about its origins before venturing in.

Left in the dark

In fact, Knytt Underground wants you to enter its world in a state of ignorance, just like its mute amnesiac protagonist Mi.

Spelunking through its vast expanses and leaping over its chasms evokes memories of Metroid and Castlevania, thanks to the sheer size and scope of the sprawling tunnels you have to navigate. It just wants you to feel lost within its cavernous underground world.

And it rations information very closely, meting it out through quirky quests and deliberately awkward dialogue.

Nifflas knows what he's doing. By the end of the second chapter, he even has the peculiar semi-narrator that adumbrates your journey telling you to "bear with" the story.

It all finally begins to make sense in Chapter Three.

Not perfect sense, mind, but enough to make your aimless jumping, climbing, and bouncing feel as through they may eventually lead somewhere.

Spelunking everywhere

Because Knytt Underground is built using just the bare gameplay essentials of movement and jumping - with an automatic climb and grab action - the real challenge comes from its environments.

Exploring the world and navigating from quest to quest becomes a test of memory and puzzle-solving as you plot a route while avoiding enemies and hazards.

Water poses no threat, and nor does falling from a great height, but acid and lava are dangerous substances. Enemies can also kill you with one hit, meaning you have to use your surrounding 2D environment to your advantage.

While Knytt Underground is enjoyable, it can also be an incredibly frustrating game.

This isn't just because of badly timed jumps and those aforementioned hazards. It's because you'll frequently reach a goal only to find out that you need to collect something you missed to move on. Annoying, the game rarely tells you where you need to go to find said items.

You do get a nice pointer on your map if you've passed through a point of interest, though, so you can backtrack easily if you didn't notice something first time around - which is rather handy.

What Knytt Underground lacks in presentation and polish it makes up in scope and content. This is the vision of a single developer on a sprawling scale. You’ll feel lost at first, but thanks to your own curiosity you'll end up diving in and exploring everything its caverns have to offer.

Knytt Underground

Knytt Underground is slow to start and difficult to interpret, but you’ll always have fun exploring its environments and surmounting the puzzles that environment presents
Vaughn Highfield
Vaughn Highfield
Quite possibly the tallest man in games, Vaughn has been enamoured with video games from a young age. However, it wasn't until he spent some time writing for the student newspaper that he realised he had a knack for talking people's ears off about his favourite pastime. Since then, he's been forging a path to the career he loves... even if it doesn't love him back.