Recently a bunch of Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMO) have been released on a free-to-play basis and now is the time to try one out. What I saw of Spiral Knights before have been visually appealing and the style seemed to be similar to my favorite game series (Zelda), so I it was natural I chose this particular game among the free MMOs. Spiral Knights was also the only game in Steam’s selection of free-to-play games that stated single player as a mode of play. This game was released a couple of months ago and it has attracted quite a crowd; over one million according to some sources, but these numbers don’t say much since they are the number of “registered user”, not people who play every day.
Single player in a MMO
As mentioned earlier I selected Spiral Knights since it offered a single player experience in a MMO, which normally is not the case. I must say that it worked quite well for the period I tried it. Some of the areas in the game can be played by yourself without any companions, but in most of the missions (all “real” missions I guess); you will be automatically joined with a few other players. This group will then dissolve when the mission is over. This solution works well for me, since I don’t want to create/join a group; I just want the single player experience. I am very old fashioned in that way; I have always put single player experiences first when it comes to games.
Gameplay and style
Let’s talk about the game! The gameplay and style of playing is easy to get into, which is an extremely important factor in action-adventure games like this. You get to “design” the player character a bit before commencing on your adventure. When you start to play, Spiral Knights give you a lot of information and hints about how to control your character. There are hints at important places and objects, and the static inhabitants of the game world have information they are happy to share with you. You play the game mainly with the mouse, a bit like Diablo and similar easy-to-move-and-attack games.
The music in the game is not so much to talk about, it works well. The sound effects are also well done. One strange thing, when talking about sound, is that when you enter a mission where you need to be in a group, you can suddenly hear sounds from other people, if they have enabled the microphone. This kind of spooked me a bit the first time it happened. I heard some guy, probably American, talking to himself and a friend/sister, without any input from the other people in the group.
Graphically the game has a relatively nice layout of things and the world is clear and colorful. You walk around and get some kind of cozy feeling. The visual style resembles a mix of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Zelda: A Link to the Past, with the top-down style.
Real money in-game
These free-to-play games can be dangerous for those who have problem taking care of their money, since most of them use a business model based on that players want to buy extra stuff and features when they are engaged in their game. In Spiral Knights you are encouraged to buy in-game features, such as abilities to embark on more missions per day and other updates. These features are bought with real money. It costs energy to embark on missions and to get more you either have to buy it, wait until it regenerates or perform some in-game business that seems quite complicated. Based on what I’ve read on a few forums it seems that some people stopped playing due to this but many others said they don’t have a problem with this though and they reached far in the game without paying anything (that’s a loss on the developer’s side then…).
If you are looking for a MMO to play just for fun and free and don’t dare (or want) to try World of Warcraft, then you should try Spiral Knights. It has nice visual layout, is easy to play, does not have a heavy story and you don’t have to be involved so much in the game world.
- Platform(s): Windows [version tested] & Macintosh
- Developer: Three Rings
- Version: Release
- Easy to get into
- Single player in MMO
Official launch trailer