Developer: Robot Invader
Price: FREE, with Content Unlock
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime: Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Wind-Up Knight 2, Robot Invader’s sequel to the game that put them on the map, is an auto-running platformer where players must jump, attack, roll, and use their shield to take out enemies and avoid hazards. This is not an endless runner, this is a platforming game where movement is automatic, and it’s freemium (with IAP to unlock the full game) versus an endless runner with consumable IAP so players should go in expecting something quite different from everything else that’s out there. The items that can be bought with the game’s coins (which can be bought with IAP as well) do provide help, but they’re not squarely necessary at all.

WindUpKnight2-4Now, there’s 40-plus levels in the game, and every so often progression is hindered until players earn more shields that are obtained by completing a level or an alternate challenge. The shield counts are higher than if players just completed levels once through, so they must play the alternate challenges. This isn’t actually all that annoying though, and is really quite clever. See, beating a level is so rhythmically-based about when to pull off certain actions, that these alternate challenges actually make existing levels play in almost a new way because they disrupt the player’s known rhythm.

These challenges also do a great job of enforcing new skills, and can show off new paths that might help players get S-ranks on main playthroughs. So while they have the benefit of stretching out existing content for the developer, they also give players a different experience and teach them new skills. For example, the bowling challenges help players know that they can roll immediately after landing, and that some jumps require not jumping at the edge of a platform, but sooner in order to reach a different spot on the next platform.

WindUpKnight2-1But this just goes to show how well-designed Wind-Up Knight 2 really is: it’s made by people who know how their game works and what players will expect – and then they deconstruct those expectations. Even things like the gamepad support, which isn’t really necessary given the simple controls, is still great to have, and a fun way to play the game. They didn’t need to put it in, but they did. The fake tweets before each level are well-written in terms of sounding like actual social media archetypes, and provide context for the plot for those who pay attention. Plus they’re actually amusing.

Really, the intelligence behind Wind-Up Knight 2 is the thing that leaves me so satisfied: it’s a challenging game, but it’s one that doesn’t feel frustrating because the intelligence behind everything shines through. I highly recommend it.


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