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Video Game / Knytt Underground

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"Knytt Underground is the biggest game I've ever developed and is the first game where I feel that I have a story to tell. It's about the big questions; trying to understand life and our place in it - and failing completely."

Knytt Underground is the sequel to Knytt and Knytt Stories by Nicklas 'Nifflas' Nygren. It is the first game in the series to be sold commercially, and the first to appear on consoles.

Hundreds of years in the future, humans have vanished from the Earth and the planet's surface is believed to be uninhabitable. Various races of tiny creatures such as sprites, tails, fairies, and pixies (collectively known as "knytt") have established thriving societies in underground tunnel networks, often using remnants of human technology to their advantage. The game is divided into three chapters:

  • Chapter 1: The player takes control of a mute sprite named Mi, who wishes to travel to a fairy fountain where the fairies will grant her wish to be able to speak.
  • Chapter 2: Control switches to the ball from Within a Deep Forest. He meets a fairy named Rob, who christens the ball "Bob" and accompanies him through the underground.
  • Chapter 3: Mi has been chosen to ring the six Bells of Fate, said to be the only way to avert The End of the World as We Know It, maybe. The player can switch between Mi and Bob at any time with the press of a button - using the pair's unique abilities in tandem is the only way to reach many areas on the map. Mi is accompanied by the fairies Dora and Cilia, who do all the talking for her since she's mute. But will ringing the Bells actually save the world, or is it just silly superstition?

The game retains the classic Metroidvania gameplay of its predecessors, with the player guiding Mi through the underground to collect items, complete quests, and find and ring the Bells of Fate. Yes, quests: as you progress through the game you'll meet NPCs who may give you tasks to complete (usually finding an item or another NPC), often rewarding the player with more items to be used elsewhere. However, unlike Knytt Stories, the items you collect generally don't give you new abilities; instead, you trade them to the gatekeepers who guard the Bells, allowing you access to them.

Knytt Underground was released on December 18, 2012 on PlayStation 3 and Play Station Vita, with a PC and Mac release following on December 22. A Wii U version was also released in December of 2013. Download the demo here.

Warning: Due to numerous continuity nods, there'll be unmarked spoilers about the previous games including Within a Deep Forest, Knytt Stories, and Saira.

This game has examples of:

  • After the End: Humans are gone and the surface is (supposedly) uninhabitable.
  • Amnesiac Hero: The first NPC you meet informs Mi that she is one. Mi immediately tells you the NPC is lying and moves on.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: While save points are somewhat scarcer than in its predecessors, dying will take you back to the start of the screen you died on rather than the last save point you used.
  • Ascended Meme: There's a brief reference to the fan-made Knytt Stories level "Don't Eat the Mushroom".
  • As You Know: One of the clichés Cilia lampshades in the RPG story. If the protagonist has lived in his Doomed Hometown his whole life, why would he just now need to be informed of its MacGuffin that keeps everyone alive?
  • Author Avatar: Nicklas Nygren himself appears as the narrator.
  • Backtracking: And lots of it!
  • Beneath the Earth: The entire game, though it manages to be quite colorful.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: The RPG story is filled to the brim with criticisms of overdone JRPG plots.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Most of the pixies you find speak in morse code. By translating it, you find that they can understand you and the fairies perfectly well, even though you (normally) can't. Some get offended by Dora calling them cute.
  • Blackout Basement: The "Infinite Darkness" area at the bottom of the map.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Pretty much all the achievements/trophies.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Figure Space and the Mini Figure.
  • Canon Welding: Establishes that Knytt and Within A Deep Forest are set in the same universe as Saira.
  • Cargo Cult: Knytt have some very interesting views on human technology, with some believing it to be divine.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Cilia lapses into this every now and then, most famously in the secret RPG story. "Oh shit anus penis wank" indeed.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Knytt Underground occurs a thousand years after Within a Deep Forest, another game by the same creator. You visit the same stage late in Chapter 3 and the (disarmed) bomb is still in the underground lab.
    • Juni from Knytt Stories is mentioned many times in the game. You get her umbrella as an item in Chapter 3 (although you can't use it) and a throwaway line from item description mentions she died some time in the past. She's a playable character in one of the hidden stories in Playable Menu.
  • Debug Room: Fully accessible and made into a secret level. Unfortunately, you don't get cheats or the like when you find it - it's just for showcasing some specific bugs that have been fixed for a while.
  • Doomed Hometown: The quaint little village that the protagonist of the RPG story calls home. Its destruction was pretty much inevitable.
  • Easter Egg: The game world consists of 48x45 rooms. The top 48x30 are used for the three main chapters, meaning the bottom 48x15 are entirely reserved for secret rooms, the main menu, and the Disorder. Most of it is secret rooms.
  • Eternal Engine: Some machinery left by humans is still functioning.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling
  • Fusion Dance: When Mi and Bob get into the machine at the end of Chapters 1 and 2 respectively, they merged in the ensuing explosion. In Chapter 3 you can switch between controlling Mi or controlling Bob.
  • Future Imperfect: With all these human artefacts lying around, you'd think more people would understand their purpose.
    • A hair dryer is either a ray gun or a laser and must be destroyed.
    • Various glyphsnote  are interpreted by the Internet as symbols such as mountains or a full moon, but only one person in a remote cave ever considers the possibility that they might instead represent sounds.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Dora and Cilia. More accurately, "nice idealistic fairy, snarky cynical fairy". You can choose which one speaks to NPCs in many dialogues.
  • Heroic Mime: Neither Mi nor Bob can speak.
  • Hidden Elf Village:
    • The pixie village in Crystal Path. You can find lost pixies and bring them back to it. There's also a tail village hidden under the map.
    • Another one near the bottom of the map where the locals hide a music player from both the Myriadists and the Internet.
  • Humanity's Wake: Humans are referred to as an extinct species.
  • Invisibility: The purple power-up makes you invisible for a few seconds.
  • Killer Robot: The main enemies of the game.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Cilla is the sole reason for the game having the M rating.
  • Metroidvania: You don't collect new powers, though. You mainly collect items you can offer to people guarding the Bells of Fate, and perform sidequests to get some of those items.
  • Mind Screw: The Disorder, a very trippy dimension.
  • Minus World:
    • The secret leading to the Red Forest seems like one, as it relies on doing some unorthodox things to escape an area that is more open than usual. The NPC within it lampshades this by telling you you're not supposed to be there.
    • One easter egg in the RPG story traps you in a Knytt Stories-esque endless purple void.
  • Modular Epilogue: Completing certain sidequests gets you optional scenes where the fairies discuss their further adventures after the ending. For example, saving pixies leads to an ending where they now worship Mi as a goddess and erect a statue of her.
  • MSTing: The secret RPG story features Cilia riffing on a generic Save the Princess plot. Not for long, though.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Because Bob stopped Dr. Cliché's bomb, the human war came to pass. The result is a Crapsack World on the surface, constant earthquakes, lava and acid, Saira being the last human left in her timeline, etc.
  • No Ending:
    • Chapter 3: Nicklas cuts the story short right before you ring the final bell. You never learn whether ringing the six Bells of Fate played an important role in saving the world. Depending on how many sidequests you carried out, though, you can get a few epilogue scenes.
    • The Bard's RPG story stops after he's heard enough of Cilia's heckling.
  • Nostalgia Level: Some of the levels have the same basic appearance and/or music as from previous games in the series.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The player characters die in one hit from any hazard.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Chapter 3.
  • Parasol Parachute: You can't actually use it, but one quest tasks you with finding Juni's umbrella from Knytt Stories.
  • Playable Menu: The menu plays just like the game inside it, with its fair share of secrets, too.
  • Powerup: In the form of colored balls of light. Different colors confer different abilities, but only for a short time.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Bob the Ball had apparently been asleep in Dr. Cliché's lab for a very long time, until he decided to leave.
  • Save Point: 60 total. The game keeps track of how many you find. There's more outside of the map, though.
  • Save the World: By ringing half a dozen giant bells. At least, that's what the Myradists tell you.
  • Secret Expanded Epilogue: The ending of Chapter 3 has an expanded epilogue when you collect Enigma before ringing the final bell. It's tied to the achievement "What She Longed For" and requires finding and placing two triangles and two spheres in their right place. If you do this, Modular Epilogue will add the final scene where Mi recollects the events in Chapter 1 from her POV. It reveals she actually didn't wish to be able to speak. She wanted for a better sandwich recipe to impress her family. Thus, almost the entire game — Mi and Bob being fused together due to a freak accident in Chapter 1 and 2, and then sent out to ring the six bells in Chapter 3 — was driven by a simple misunderstanding.
  • Secret Level: The game loves these. There are secrets, secrets inside secrets, secrets inside secrets inside secrets note ... hell, even the debug area has a secret in it! note 
  • Scenery Porn: Now in HD!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the RPG story, The Bard gets fed up and ends his retelling when Cilia makes fun of the villain's name.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Averted; Mi can walk through shallow pools of water without getting killed, and the only pools deeper than that have robots in them that will electrify the water and kill you.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The first two games had an Excuse Plot. This game, however, has a very detailed backstory with many characters who have dialogue, and explains how all the previous games (including Within a Deep Forest and Saira) tie together.
  • Underwater Base: The one from Within A Deep Forest reappears here, albeit with a vastly different layout.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: From Mi to Bob and back again. Bob can no longer turn into different kinds of materials, though.
  • Wall Jump: Mi can climb walls and will stick to them as long as you don't press down or away from the wall.
  • Warp Zone: The Disorder.
  • What the Hell Are You?: Bob's very existence is quite the shock to others.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: And probably a bigger one than both previous Knytt games put together!