Review by Salvidrim
Simple, vibrant, immediate fun.
This game is would be best described as a MMO/PUG Action/Adventure Dungeon Crawler. Reminiscent of Zelda both in gameplay and style, you enter the "Clockworks" (an ever changing dungeon with 29 levels), and go through the layers with a pick-up group of other people, battle enemies/bosses, work through the puzzles to go to the next level ('depth'), as long as you can go on... then go back up to the city, restock, dive again into the dungeons.
There's no actual XP, and although the game is loads of fun on its own right, it's a lot about collecting the very wide varieties of materials and recipes, and crafting equipment, some elemental, to counter certain bosses etc. In that way it is more of an MMO Action/Adventure game than an RPG, as you do not have stats or levels, and fight enemies in real-time.
The game is made so that it is not unbalanced by people with high-end equipment. Yes it makes you stronger, yes it allows you to adventure deeper, however you will notice from the get-go that even when partying with someone who has gigantic sword and great armor, your starter weapons still make a difference between victory or defeat. This is something the developers (Three Rings Design, of "Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates" fame) take to heart -- balancing the game so that so that more experienced players are not stronger merely because their characters have better stats or equipment, but because the actual player has acquired skills and has gotten better at playing the game.
The graphics aren't exactly impressive but they do what they are meant to -- no incredible 3D effects, but vibrant and dynamics effects that convey the intention of the game very well: this game is made for fun. Controls are simple, intuitive, anyone and their mothers can get into the game and start being proficient within a few minutes.
The music is also an excellent part of the game. While you might not even notice it in the course of regular gameplay, when you do remark a tune you're pleasantly surprised by how well it matches the atmosphere and the surroundings. The sound effects are generally appropriate and unremarkable, however a few of the enemy cries can get on your nerves, especially one type who emits a particularly high screech.
In summary, If you don't like dungeon crawling, PUG cooperation, material collecting, then this game might not be for you. However, if you enjoy delving in ever-changing dungeons, battling various enemies and solving puzzles, working with other strangers to develop fast strategies, and finding loot, then this is sure to hit a sweet spot.
To note: Available for free through Steam, or through Java on the game's site. You don't have to make an account -- you can login through Steam, or even through Facebook. If you use neither of these services, you can create an account directly with the game.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Spiral Knights (US, 04/04/11)
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