Suda51 has left an indelible, insane mark on the industry with his digital dementia. His games, from Killer 7 to last year’s Lollipop Chainsaw, have featured Mexican luchadors, shitting save points, barely-legal zombie hunters, a faux-lightsaber that you recharge with a blatantly masturbatory gesture, and an arsenal of weapons based on penile puns. His back catalogue is a endless stream of the perverse and puerile, and is most certainly an acquired taste for even the strongest of constitutions, and this is certainly no different for Black Knight Sword, a game that features his most accessible gameplay, but still features that infamous Suda51 “charm.”
Black Knight Sword promises a simple fairy tale in its opening cinematic, with a beautiful but wicked princess and the sword spirit that opposes her. However, Suda immediately throws any preconceived notions of fantasy claptrap right into the shredder, as players are given control of the corpse of a man who has committed suicide, who bounces about in a rather lively fashion with flicks of the analog stick until he finally slips free of his noose. From there, he dons the armor of the Black Knight—unwillingly, it seems—as inky tendrils snake around his form and turns him into the titular hero.
From there, you’re thrust into a platformer that borders on painfully simple. You jump from platform to platform, hacking away at a barrage of beasts that seem to have burst forth from a fever dream and collecting hearts (the valve-y, anatomical kind, not the cute Valentine variety) to jack up your few stats. Still not sounding weird enough? Did I mention that you also hack open microwave ovens to collect these hearts? Or what if I told you that your “shopkeeper” was a multi-eyed monstrosity who rewards you for freeing her ocular offspring? Still not weird enough? What if I told you that the entire game is a multi-medium mashup of puppetry, papercuttings, and expressionist Czech animation? Despite its banality in regards to gameplay, Suda51’s usual horror/arthouse cinema/punk rock/psychedelic blend is on full display here, elevating a simple genre entry into an unforgettable exercise in the bizarre.
Unfortunately, when I say “simple genre entry,” I mean it. The gameplay has all of the depth of a rain puddle, offering very little to compel even platforming fans to go all of the way through the game’s five brief levels. The speed of the game borders on plodding, and the minimal depth makes it little more than the shakiest of skeletons to hang Suda’s trademark lunacy. Fans of his previous work may note that it’s not the gameplay that draws players to games developed by Suda and his team at Grasshopper Manufacture, but the wholesale insanity that they wrap themselves in. However, the gameplay of Black Knight Sword might be a little too thin for even the staunchest of Suda51 fans.
Black Knight Sword is available on Xbox Live Arcade/Playstation Network for 800 MSP/$9.99