In 2006, Arkane Studios let loose a quiet FPS miracle with Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: a fantasy melee FPS with a fast kick move that didn’t do much damage, but would instantly ragdollize almost any enemy (opens in new tab) in this early Source engine game. Ample physics hazards and precarious drops combined to make Dark Messiah an absolute slapstick hoedown.
Dark Messiah’s kick was so breathtakingly, life-changingly satisfying it was never seen again until 2021’s Deathloop. Now developer Alexy “cptnsigh” is building a hybrid character action game/FPS built around that same perfect attack, with a recently-released demo for Shady Knight (opens in new tab) proving an absolute blast.
I don’t know what makes the titular Shady Knight so shady, but this guy is certainly stylish. Shady Knight presents you with a series of platforming/combat arenas with escalating difficulty and complexity, challenging you to solve them primarily with your trusty boot and a particularly nasty grappling hook.
These abstract, sparse structures floating out in ocean voids feel very Neon White (opens in new tab), while a character action style meter in an FPS reminds me of New blood’s Ultrakill (opens in new tab), but Shady Knight feels a lot more methodical than either of those games. In addition to the boot and grapple, which you always have access to, Shady Knight’s levels are full of one-off weapons to use and abuse, maybe capping off a killer combo string with a thrown dagger to the face.
Things start to get a bit more complicated as the demo goes on, with the addition of more combo-resistant enemies and varied level conditions to keep you on your toes. It does help that there’s no Halo Infinite-style slow cooldown on the grappling hook—I was hooting and hollering as I absolutely punished enemies with the thing in Shady Knight’s free demo. Shady Knight has that character action richness, practically begging you to take your time and master the game, but it is also immediately gratifying to just hop in and start kicking guys off ledges.
Shady Knight is currently listed as “Coming Soon” on Steam (opens in new tab), but you can check out the free demo yourself and wishlist it now. Doofy enemies and precarious drops await you in a distinct, striking fantasy world.
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