I'd heard some good things about Spiral Knights, and have been a fan of Mac Hall and Three Panel Soul for a long time (their artist worked on the game), and I've always liked Co Op Multiplayer experiences. So I decided to check it out when it came to Steam. For the most part, I was not disappointed. Control is simple: walk with Mouse1 or WASD; slash with Mouse2, shield with Mouse3 or another button of your choice. You can equip swords, guns or bombs. Dodging attacks is relatively easy—enemies aid in the memorization process by displaying a special icon when they're about to launch an attack—but you have a shield to absorb damage as well. Bosses are creative, there's a wide variety of levels, and Ninja Looting is averted enough that the player base has no vested reason (besides the usual) to be cruel. The game starts easy but coaxes you into developing skill—learning enemy patterns, relying on your shield, dodging instead of eating damage. It's a fun game. The single Weaksauce Weakness is this: you must have solid Internet. For whatever reason, Spiral Knights is extremely vulnerable to latency or packet loss. Enemies become so hard-hitting at higher levels that, even with increased HP and better armor, the total number of hits you can take goes down. Under those circumstances, being able to dodge, to raise your shield, to use combos to knock enemies away from you—skill, in other words—is your only salvation... and lag stops all those things dead. It's ironic that a game which was designed specifically to be accessible to low-end computers compensates by requiring high-end modems. In the end, I can only recommend this game to people who know for certain that they won't get screwed over by their ISPs. Which is a shame, because anyone could have fun with this. It's simple, practical, appealing and fun. (And it goes without saying that I love the art values.) With their poor back-end architecture, Three Rings have killed what could've been the best Casual MMO to date.
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