Every once in a while a game emerges out of no-where and knocks you completely off your feet. Solbrain Knight of Darkness is one such game, though, it hasn’t knocked me off my feet because of how great it is — oh no, on the contrary — it’s knocked me off my feet by how startlingly awful it is. This is a game that is so mind numbingly inept, so woefully devoid of any positive attributes and so devastatingly upsetting to every sense in my body that it is easily the worst “game” I have ever played, without any hint of hyperbole. Calling it a game in and of itself is a total joke. This wretched husk of assets thrown together like a chimp throwing its own fecal matter in the hope that something will stick, is an insult to those who play, create and respect games. It’s a monumental disaster and a perfect case-study for any burgeoning developer to demonstrate to them just what not to do when creating a game.
Solbrain Knight of Darkness is an action hack-and-slasher which tasks you with defeating waves of enemies in a sort of Horde-style mode. Players are dropped lifelessly into a random map (there are about four different maps) without any narrative explanation at all. Enemies are all just re-skins and are only remarkable in how utterly brain-dead they behave; you’ll spend most of your time looking for the last enemy to vanquish, which is, more often than not, stuck in some corner of the environment somewhere bashing its head against a stone wall. To be honest, I don’t blame it. If I was trapped inside a game this bad, I’d be bashing my head in frustration too.
The combat is, in a word: horrendous. Hit detection is utterly non-existent; you’ll often feel like you’re flailing your arms and striking thin air. There is no audio or visual cue for when you connect with an enemy, which makes the combat feel empty and vapid. There is no dodge button and even though you carry a shield there is no way to actually, you know, use it. Thus, the only way to evade attacks is to step backwards; Michael Jackson wants his Moonwalk back.
The control layout is displayed on the right side of the screen which takes up a fair portion of the screen real-estate. There is absolutely no way to switch it off, which is very considerate of the developer. Speaking of which, there is absolutely no pause button, or options of any kind at all. If you get stuck in the buggy environment, like the plethora of empty-headed minions the game throws at you, then, you know what, you’ve got to hard exit out of the game. My progress was halted by the buggy environmental detection way more times than the actual enemies. To add insult to injury, there is no save feature. Your progress is lost every time you exit out of the game. This is beyond unacceptable, particularly for a PS4 game in 2016.
The ugly tutorial buttons clearly state that you have two inputs for your attacks and two inputs for your magic spells, however, the truth is you only have one woeful melee attack and one unspectacular ice spell that is mapped to both buttons. Your health meter slowly regenerates over time, though when your magic points have depleted there is no way to refill them until you start the next level or die.
Graphically, the game is an utter monstrosity; a Frankenstein of assets cobbled together with no love or attention to detail. Snowflakes fall, the sun beams, lightning flashes and the birds chirrup away in an inconsistent cacophony of senseless dross; the game’s weather just can’t make up its mind as to what it wants to be. It is instead simply an assault on the senses. There is also no explanation as to why the laws of physics are completely defied; like Jesus, you can walk on water. Go figure.
There have been some rumours that the developer Lightning Game Studios has built its game with stolen assets and stolen music from other games. I feel that I can’t speak with much authority about this, though, judging by the game’s quality, I really would not be surprised at all.
Ultimately, Solbrain Knight of Darkness is not a game that is so bad it’s good. Instead it’s just categorically, unconditionally bad, and there is no fun to be eked from this mess of a game. This assault on the senses is a disgrace to the PSN and I’m absolutely bamboozled as to why Sony greenlit this tripe. Even those with a morbid curiosity should avoid this game and not waste their time and money. Simply put, this is a depressing catastrophe of a game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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