Gryphon Knight Epic is a 2D side scrolling shoot-em-up that comes from Brazilian indie developer Cyber Rhino Studios and is their debut game. The game originally started out through a kickstarter campaign and has grown into something much larger than expected.
The game started out on PC and is now on consoles. The 2D side-scrolling shoot-em-up that takes place in the medieval kingdom of Valiantskies, Gryphon Knight Epic was originally released on Steam in 2015 and has now made its way into Xbox One through the ID Xbox program.
You play as a Knight known as Sir Oliver who is accompanied by his companion Aquila, who is a magnificent gryphon. Sir Oliver has had many adventures and one saw him rescue and marry a beautiful princess. The princess was kidnapped by a fearsome dragon and Sir Oliver ventures out to defeat the dragon, along with his knight allies. After defeating said dragon, he and his friends loot the lair with each of them taking a special item each. Sir Oliver takes a magic necklace and his friend a magic weapon. Life seems to be going as planned until Sir Oliver gets attacked by a spectre of himself. The spectre explains that he will spread ruin across the kingdom. Sir Oliver seeks the help of his friends but the only problem is that his friends have also been corrupted by the magic weapons they took. Sir Oliver must go on to fight against them in order to save the kingdom.
I was immediately drawn to the charming visual presentation and overall atmosphere of the game when starting out. The story is presented in a unique and interesting way and uses retro 16-bit like graphics that look great. It’s a game that ha clearly drawn inspiration from titles like Mega Man and Metal Slug and it actually works very well.
I will start by saying that I enjoyed the gameplay more than I expected, which has tight controls and interesting mechanics. The screen scrolls in the direction you are facing and you move around the screen on Aquila. You shoot in the direction you are facing and therefore if an enemy is behind you, you have to turn around in order to kill them. This causes the scrolling of the screen to also change direction, which can feel a little awkward at first but I soon got used to it. The game has a nice tutorial at the start which helps you get a hold of the basic mechanics. The controls feel great and for this type of game that requires precise timing and pixel perfect movement. The shooting feels fantastic and I had a blast making my way through each onslaught of enemies.
The game also has various upgrades and abilities that are introduced throughout the campaign. You start your adventure with a crossbow that can also be charged up. As you make your way through the game and take on your corrupted friends you will acquire their special weapons. This is great as the weapons you obtain can be used to go back to previous areas and discover new paths and areas, much like a Metroid game. Every weapon is interestingly designed and have different abilities that can be used. You collect gold throughout the game that can be used to upgrade these various weapons.
There are also hidden runes that are hidden in each area. These grant special abilities like being able to breathe underwater and open hidden paths. The combination of weapons and runes give the game a good reason to go back and explore hidden places and things you may have missed the first time. The levels also have a nice variation of enemies to beat and they all have unique attacks and abilities. The enemies are well designed and suit the overall theme of each area. The game may look charming with its pleasant visuals but the gameplay isn’t easy by any stretch. That’s something I appreciated though as classic games like Mega Man really did have some challenging moments. The game does also have three difficulty modes if you want to switch things up.
The graphics have also drawn inspiration from 16-bit style games with vibrant and colourful pixel art that looks fantastic. The game uses bright, well designed environments that have a ‘blocky’ feel to them. There are so many retro influenced games at the moment with the success of Shovel Knight and Axiom Verge and this game certainly matches up in terms of visual presentation. I love a game that feels easy to jump into whilst having a good degree of depth and replayability. Each of the stages can be beaten fairly quickly but gaining new items means you can go back and explore other areas. The music and sound design is great but not quite what I was expecting. Instead of using techno tunes like in Shovel Knight it has a much more calming and gentle vibe that actually suits the way in which Aquila glides across the screen.
I have to say that I really enjoyed my time playing Gryphon Knight Epic. The gameplay feels great, with tight controls and shooting mechanics. The game offers some interesting upgrades and abilities that can be used to go back and explore the game in more depth. The visual presentation is strong and uses a playful and vibrant style. I would highly recommend this title if you’re a fan of classic side scrollers like Mega Man or Castlevania or more recently games like Shovel Knight.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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