Knights and Bikes is the Childhood Adventure We Need in Gaming [Preview]

I had the opportunity to play Knights and Bikes by Foam Sword at PAX West 2018 and was enchanted by the game’s concept. I’m American, but the story about two young friends, Nessa and Demelza, who spend a summer together on a fictional island based on Cornwall, England, definitely struck a nostalgic chord with me.

The internet was more of a novelty instead of a necessity when I was growing up. I spent a lot of my youth entertaining myself by riding bikes around the neighborhood and exploring. Everything took on a more exotic and mystical air then, with places like the old drainage ditch and the nearby train tracks seeming larger than life. Imagination turned these mundane places that adults took for granted into these sacred and forboding grounds.

Knights and Bikes Screenshot

The world of Knights and Bikes uses its hand-drawn graphics to render the island through the eyes of a child. You and a friend can take control of Nessa and Demelza as they explore familiar areas that are distorted by the lens of youthful imagination. The perspectives of buildings are disproportionate, as a child rarely has any real sense of scale.

Almost everything in the game reflects the girls’ imagination. When riding one of the titular bikes for example, when you boost your speed Nessa will make motorcycle noises. It’s this kind of charm that really sets the game apart and turns it from a gimmick into something you can tell is from the heart.

With the massive amounts of nostalgia cash-ins, we see these days it’s easy to strike a game off as appealing to sentimentality for a quick buck. Knights and Bikes avoids the reference a minute trap that productions like Ready Player One fall into. Instead of riding on a wave of nostalgia, the game uses its 1987 setting to evoke feeling from those who lived during the time.

Knights and Bikes Screenshot Town

However, Knights and Bikes is just as enjoyable a co-op game for younger players who may have never shared a similar experience as what’s presented here. Both characters have their own unique powers which complement each other and steer the players naturally towards working in tandem. For example, Demelza gets a frisbee that can be used to hit objects at range. It has a fairly short flying distance, but that can be doubled if Nessa interacts with it at its apogee.

I only got to spend about 20 minutes with Knights and Bikes, but it’s a game I’ll be keeping my eye on. While there’ll be online play, and single-player switching between the two characters is an option, the couch co-op is the most exciting part for me. I can’t wait to add another unique, relaxing game to my collection that I can play with my fiancee, and Knights and Bikes looks like it’ll scratch that itch perfectly.