As a fan of tower defence games, I enjoy it when I find elements of tower defence inserted into other types of games to provide a nice twist to things. Jet Set Knights does something similar by allowing barricade defence as a key element of its arcade action gameplay.
Each level of Jet Set Knights places a princess in destress at the bottom of the screen. Enemies will be entering the level at the top of the screen and filtering down – a bit like a reverse Donkey Kong to get to the princess. She is a one hit kill. As each level is a high score challenge, she will get hit or you will lose your life attacking these enemies instead. You are a titular Knight. Able to jump and attack on your 2D plain but unable to screen wrap unlike your enemies, you need to hold off the horde of enemies that gather pace wave after wave. You’ll have a variety of weapons at your disposal to kill enemies and collect coins and resources. These coins and resources are then used to either activate or fix barricades or gun turrets to help keep the enemies away.
This strategy reminds me a little of Aegis Defenders, a fab game from 2018 where you were attacking enemies but so were your turrets, Whilst Jet Set Knight doesn’t have depth in terms of turret types or block types, the cost of getting them up and running is high and so the trick is to kill fast and kill efficiently to ensure these supports stay online and active. They have health too and as enemies bounce off them, they degrade and eventually break. If you can get them repaired and back online, it’ll keep you going longer.
As each level is a score challenge, eventually you’ll get overwhelmed. A boss takes place every 10th wave and they bring their own challenges but are easily fell. This is because they have very predictable patterns that are simple to dodge so long as you are patient and don’t stay still. Then it returns to the enemy spawning that will be bigger and bolder than the first round. Eventually you’ll be overrun and your score will be shown. Get enough points and the next level unlocks. You can also collect giant coins to use in a gotcha machine to unlock other knights, weapons and skins but the selection is quite limited.
I very much enjoyed my time with Jet Set Knights as I got up to speed with it and the ability to play with up to 4 players local co-op is a great addition. What the game lacks is after that first 90 minutes, anything to pull you back beyond chasing local scores. It would be perfect for a versus mode as it handles similarly to Towerfall but alas there is none. The levels are well designed but there are only a few and more of them would have been better too. Each level comes with a lot of verticality which makes enemy movement patterns initially a challenge to work out, especially if they rebound off of your barriers. It also tests the jumping gameplay which holds up and allows later levels to have some challenging spike and fire traps built in to keep you on your toes.
So its a tentative recommendation here. Its lifespan will be short but you’ll have a good time while it lasts. Bit like a takeaway really.
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Review copy provided by publisher on PS4.