Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Switch) Review
You don’t need this review to tell you how good Shovel Knight is but in case you were wondering, I’ll save you the trouble here and now – It’s good. Really freaking good. Ever since its debut in 2014, the game has received nothing but critical acclaim, resulting in it being released on pretty much every modern gaming console and handheld out there. The newest of these systems to be graced by its lovely presence is the Nintendo Switch in the form of Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove.
Included in this package are the base Shovel Knight game and its two DLC campaigns: Plague of Shadows and the new addition to the family, Specter of Torment. Plague of Shadows serves as a more challenging alternate way to play through Shovel Knight, while Specter of Torment feels new; telling an original story that occurs prior to the adventures of our beloved blue protagonist. Also included is the previously amiibo-locked co-operative mode, which is a nice bonus. Especially considering that the amiibo itself is rather difficult to find in stores nowadays.
Alongside all the previously mentioned content is Body Swap, an odd but welcome feature which allows the customisation of each characters’ gender and pronouns. This alters their physical appearance and the way they’re referred to in game by everyone else. Unfortunately, at the time of this review, these options are only accessible in the base game, leaving a strange inconsistency to anybody who might have made use of it to customise the characters to their liking, only to move on to the other campaigns and have all of that taken away. However, the effort is definitely admirable and appreciated.
This collection of games honestly feels right at home on the Switch. The multitude of ways to play offers anyone the choice to experience these titles in whatever way they find comfortable. I personally found myself playing more in handheld mode, but it’s great that if somebody else would prefer using the Pro Controller, Joy-Con Grip or even a single Joy-Con by itself, they can absolutely do that with ease. It all comes together to really highlight why the Switch is such a unique console and makes for such a perfect launch game for the system.
Specter of Torment is, of course, the main attraction among this collection of games and boy – what a game it turned out to be. I wasn’t expecting this new DLC to be able to top the original Shovel Knight, but at the end of the journey, I was left in awe. Rather than pogo stick diving or tossing chemically powered explosives, Specter Knight slashes his way through stages with his massive scythe; allowing him to plunge through aerial enemies to gain more height. His ability to wall climb and wall jump also provides a new layer of complexity to levels and really makes you think differently about how you might approach certain platforms. It’s not an unfamiliar concept, but it’s fascinating to see developer Yacht Club’s take on the formula and see them really make it their own.
Gone is the Super Mario Bros. 3 style map seen in Shovel Knight and Plague of Shadows, instead welcoming a more streamlined Mega Man-esque method of selecting stages. The map and its odd encounters were sorely missed while playing through Specter of Torment but ultimately, none of the charm has been lost in this new iteration; incorporating quirky characters and discoveries to be made in other ways with Specter Knight’s own hub area, the Tower of Fate.
All the stages featured share the same themes that we’ve seen before, but have been totally reworked from the ground up – introducing new twists and obstacles to really make everything feel fresh. A level you may have hated in the original Shovel Knight could now be your new favourite in Specter of Torment or vice versa. Every song has also been delightfully rearranged, which made progressing to the next level even more exciting on top of everything else.
If you haven’t checked out Shovel Knight before and you just happen to have a Switch, this is the perfect way to jump in… and you should. I hadn’t played Shovel Knight before reviewing this collection and I regret not taking the chance to play it up until now. However, I’m also glad that my first experience with Shovel Knight just happened to be Treasure Trove in particular. It’s packed to the brim with content and the different ways you can play through these games is wonderfully broad. Whether it’s co-op or solo, handheld or docked – it’s up to you. I don’t care. Just go play Shovel Knight.