Knight Squad Preview

It's time to fight for the holy grail.

Fun party games never go out of style; there's always a group of people playing games together and having fun. Knight Squad, which was shown at Microsoft's pre-PAX ID@Xbox event, looks to be a game that compliments those big group situations. Its blend of chaotic action and simplicity makes it the ideal pick-up-and-play game. Just be prepared to shout a whole lot, whether it's with acquaintances, friends, or soon-to-be former friends.

Knight Squad features competitive matches for up to eight players on an appropriately large map and a top-down view. It doesn't look like much from a distance, but it's a deceptively smart game. There will be a total of nine different game modes in the full release, but I played just one featuring a grail. The goal: get to the grail and bring it back to your spawn point. It sounds like an easy task, but a whole lot of craziness ensues over the course of a single match.

Spread across the map are multiple power-ups, and that's where the underlining complexity of Knight Squad begins to reveal itself. Players can run around stabbing enemies easily enough—in fact, the act only requires the analog stick and a single face button. But the real strategy appears in the decision-making process. Do I go for the bomb power-up, or do I cut off a nearby knight and prevent him from getting a drill power-up? There are constant risk/reward moments in each match, and it keeps players constantly on their toes.

It also results in a ton of back and forth moments in which one knight appears to be on the verge of victory, only to fall just a few steps before the spawn point. Successfully returning the grail can be quite difficult since it weighs the player down, so it benefits each individual knight to plan out a path if time permits. Let's just say speed isn't the key to victory in regard to this particular game mode.

If the other eight modes are as good as the fight for the grail, then Knight Squad will stand out as one of the more rewarding party games to come out in recent years. Just a few moments with the game was enough to demonstrate its effectiveness as a friendly competitive experience. It emphasizes the thrill of victory, but even in defeat players will surely have a memorable time.

Knight Squad can be found on Steam Early Access, but the game is also in development for Windows 10 and Xbox One, and is expected to come out later this year.