Knights and Bikes (available on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch) is the tale of two girls having a fantastic adventure on the fictional British island of Penzfurzy. Along the way, they encounter fantastical monsters, dig up hidden treasures, and really trick out the bikes they use to travel the island.
Ultimately, this game is a lot like your favorite dessert. It’s very enjoyable and very memorable, but you’re going to be done with it way too soon.
Back to the Past
One of the most notable things about Knights and Bikes is that it is set in the 1980s. That means it joins the ranks of Stranger Things and other popular media that have stoked our collective passion for that beloved decade.
If you squint, you’ll even notice how much of the story elements seem like an homage to ’80s classics. For example, one protagonist hopes to find enough treasure to save her dad’s trailer park, which seems to seriously echo the “kids save their parents’ homes” vibe of The Goonies.
While you don’t have to be an ’80s kid to enjoy this game, it may help you appreciate some of these homages and Easter eggs.
Adventure Game Throwback
Knights and Bikes is a throwback to more than the 1980s. It’s also a throwback to the era of genuine adventure games.
Now, this isn’t a “point and click” adventure. But it’s not exactly a traditional action game. Enemies are relatively few and far between. Instead, much of the fun comes from exploring the island and uncovering more and more of its bizarre mysteries.
If you like the idea of tucking into such mysteries, this is the game for you. But if you just want to take out foe after foe, you’ll want to snag a different game.
Blurring Imagination and Reality
Speaking of foes, the enemies in this game are very unique. That’s because players see the game world through the eyes of two highly-imaginative young girls.
Reality and imagination blur together in some fun and evocative ways. Sometimes you’re fighting “cursed” golf balls and shoes, for instance. Other times, you’re fighting a vehicle crusher that the girls see as a mighty dragon.
While trying to discover what is real and what is not may drive more literal-minded players crazy, the game’s emphasis on childhood imagination will be the best part of the game for everyone else.
Better With Two Players
Knights and Bikes is about two hilarious young girls: Demelza and Nessa. And it’s only fitting that this game is better when you have a second player.
It’s possible to beat the game entirely by yourself. That’s because the game’s A.I. is surprisingly decent, helping you overcome both enemies and puzzles.
However, those puzzles are a major part of the game’s difficulty and its charm. It is more fun to tackle them with a buddy beside you. And playing with a buddy will make the competitive minigames (in which the girls fight each other in everything from bike races to video games) that much more satisfying.
The game as a whole is pretty short (more on this later). However, it uses every opportunity to engage in some really fun world-building.
Because the island you are on is fictional, players will be even more confused than the girls about its history and its mystery. At every turn, you will discover more twists and turns about the world and the characters around you.
That world-building also helps this game be more than just a wacky ’80s simulator. Instead of making you play “spot the reference,” you spend most of your time figuring out what the hell is going on.
Arguably, this game’s biggest draw is its very unique art style. I can honestly say you’ve never seen a game that looks exactly like this!
Everything looks colorful and handpainted in this game. Once you fall in love with the art style (which will happen right away), discovering new areas becomes that much more important. After all, you never know what the next wacky design will be until you get there.
Ultimately, the art helps sell this game as an imaginative children’s book brought to life. And it’s the art style that will keep you coming back to the game for repeat playthroughs.
Short and Sweet
For better or for worse, you’ll be starting those repeat playthroughs sooner rather than later. That’s because it will only take you eight hours (give or take) to beat the entire game.
Historically, these kinds of “short and sweet” games divide the player community. Some gamers like a game that tells a kickass story and then rolls the credits. Others like the intensive RPG experience of sinking 40 or 50 hours into a game.
While Knights and Bikes might be short from start to finish, it’s worth playing again (and again). You are certain to discover something new each time.
Is Knights and Bikes worth playing? Hell yes. It is a game that truly has something for everyone.
This game boasts awesome art, engaging puzzles, memorable fights, and a unique story. And if the worst thing about it is that you’ll be left wanting more, that’s not a bad thing at all.