Review: Rampage Knights

Review: Rampage Knights

Knights are typically thought of as heroic, highly-skilled warriors that are noble, courageous, and do the right thing. They rescue princesses, hunt down holy relics, and have trouble counting to three just before chucking grenades at rabbits. But that’s not quite the case in Rampage Knights. No, in this game you’ll be making your way through numerous areas and countless enemies, collecting ridiculous (in the best of ways) gear, and making your way to an evil wizard for retribution. “What heinous act did this wizard commit?” I hear you asking, and I’ll tell you the answer, but I hope you’re sitting down and prepared for it. He maliciously came upon our heroes… and he STOLE THEIR LOOT!

Unless you’re okay with evil wizards going around stealing hard-earned loot, you’ll want to battle your way through his forces and get it back in this roguelike beat ’em up!

Title: Rampage Knights
Developer: Rake In Grass
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by developer
Interface: Handheld console with attached joycons
Available on Nintendo Switch and Steam (Windows and Mac).

Rampage Knights is a cooperative beat ’em up game mixed up with randomized dungeon crawling and exploration which you can play alone or with a friend.

You play as a hero trapped by a spell in a magical forest. All paths lead you to a nearby ruined castle, infested with goblins, skeletons and other foul creatures. Gear up with awesome and ridiculous weapons and spells and descend into the deep labyrinth below the ruin to face its sinister master!

Rampage Knights is a rather brutal game that feels like someone took The Binding of Isaac and turned it into a beat ’em up. You start with minimal gear and take on foes with a handful of combos, dodging, and jumping around. As you progress, you’ll (potentially) find better gear like armor, weapons, throwable items, magic spells, and more. Mastering the combination of these items takes some practice, but when you find your flow it’s a far more enjoyable experience than I first expected.

The gameplay is incredible simple, but it becomes natural quickly enough. While swinging your weapon at enemies, you can turn your combo into an aerial combo by holding up or swing an enemy around and toss them like a projectile by holding down. Downed enemies can be stomped on or thrown, and you can jump and attack to smash the ground and destroy shields. Meanwhile, your enemies will swarm you, fling spells your way, and do their very best to annihilate you. It’s a very fast-paced game that kept me on my toes every minute I played.

There are loads of things to unlock in the game, including new looks, new classes that open up new gameplay styles, new game modes, and my personal favorite: casual mode. Casual mode removes permadeath, resetting a player in their current level with the same gear they started the level with. I found that, typically, if I died in a level once I would probably die every time I tried it due to my current setup, but there were times I learned to avoid a particularly hard room or learned the exact order that enemies would spawn and used that to my advantage. It’s also a terrific way to practice against bosses since otherwise you’d have to start the whole game over just to get another chance at them.

But even with practice and experience with what various items do, Rampage Knights is a game where you’ll be battling the RNG just as much as the wizard’s forces. Like many roguelike games, I faced off against some runs when it took everything I had to get through a couple rounds, and then there were runs where I felt like I accidentally activated cheat codes and annihilated everything in my path. Other times, a run that seemed impossible or massively OP took a quick turn of fate with a single pickup. For example, one super epic run turned into a brutal one when I picked up one bad effect that blessed me with healing every time I hurt enemies but cursed me with taking damage every second or two.

Rampage Knights also has a co-op mode, but my gal and I only played a round or two of it. She isn’t typically a fan of beat ’em up games, and this one definitely didn’t change her mind. It didn’t help that everything seemed a bit small on the TV, especially in the first level where there’s thick grass all over and while we were learning the game. Co-op mode does have a cool twist to it though: if you die, you return as a ghost and can help by stunning an enemy. If the other player kills enough enemies and you collect their souls, you can return to life!

I worried that Rampage Knights was going to be a huge letdown while I was learning to play it, but the game ended up being rather addictive. Having some bonus modes like a wave-based arena and one where enemies drop bombs all over the place was a great way to mix things up to, although I really would’ve liked if there were difficulty levels for them as well. But even with the extra modes and a slew of achievements to complete and loot to experiment with, I don’t feel compelled to play the game any more now that I’ve completed it (on easy mode) and can’t make the other modes easier. I definitely enjoyed the 5-10 hours I spent with it though!

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