Bucket Knight (Xbox One) Review

Bucket Knight is one of the simplest games released in recent memory. Not to be confused with low quality, this jump-and-shoot 2D pixel-based platformer can be completed in about 30 minutes, only uses two buttons, and all 1000/1000 Achievements (or Trophies if playing on PS4 or Vita) can be easily earned through normal play.

This is not a Roguelike so each stage has been hand designed with the ultimate goal of reaching the portal at the end. Along the way the player will encounter basic enemies and some hazards but the challenge remains easy and casual throughout the entire campaign. By the time I reached the end, I only died a few times. There are a handful of predictable enemies found in each stage, platforming is always present but never frustrating, and sometimes the player will need to find an occasional key to unlock a doorway. There are no environmental puzzles to solve or tricky hurdles to overcome. Even though the challenge remains low and there are no special gameplay gimmicks, it is still an enjoyable experience. Honestly, if the game was any longer in length, it would have outstayed its welcome.

The player has access to two abilities: jump and shoot. A double jump is available right from the start but it is worth pointing out that the player can only activate an air jump from another jump – the knight on a quest to earn money to buy a house cannot jump from falling off a ledge. There are other curious design choices, like displaying ladders in the background of many stages although they cannot be climbed and featuring platforms that blend in a little too much with the background.  However, there are no text bubbles and the short opening cutscene uses simple emojis to quickly set the tone. Coins are also littered throughout each stage and when enough are collected, a few new guns, like a machine gun and shotgun, can be unlocked. Although they act differently than the starting peashooter, their uniqueness doesn’t last long. For example, the machine gun fires a handful of quick bursts but then reverts back to solo shots after just a few button taps. Not sure why this happens, perhaps it is a glitch or a specific design choice to prevent the game from being easier, but seems strange either way. Visually, there is a strange CRT scanline option that initially looks purposely retro but a wonder why there wasn’t an option to play without a filter.

In a way, Bucket Knight is the antithesis of brutal platformers like Super Meat Boy or Roguelikes like Spelunky. Those titles are design to punish non-hardcore and dedicated players while providing an immense sense of accomplishment with each passed stage. Bucket Knight is this simple, happy-go-lucky casual platformer that says “enjoy this basic, stress-free platforming experience that isn’t here to hurt you.”  And Achievement (or Trophy) hunters will also covet this game.

Also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Playstation Vita.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Better Than: stress and increased blood pressure from challenging platformers
Also Try: Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
Wait For It: Spelunky 2

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz

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