Flight of the Gryphon.
The first time I saw Gryphon Knight Epic, I’ll admit, I was intrigued. Anytime I get a chance to play a horizontal shooter, I get excited. It also helps that this game has a unique look, and an even more unique system. Players take control of a character riding atop a mythical creature, splashing through a pixelated fantasy world dodging bullets and taking down massive enemies. Sounds good so far, and for the most part the game is fine, but there are some setbacks that keep it from being a true hidden gem.
The story follows Sir Oliver and his band of warriors as they take down the great dragon. Upon defeat each of Oliver’s warriors decide to take a slice of the treasure in the form of various weapons. Oliver decides only to take an amulet. Much to his surprise the weapons his allies take end up being cursed, thus causing them to turn against Oliver. This is the basis for the game, as Oliver must fly to the rescue on his trusty Gryphon in order to save his friends.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $7.99
Gryphon Knight Epic is a side-scrolling shooter. Players can move left-to-right or vice versa as well as being able to go up and down. Every stage auto scrolls as it goes on, and switching between left and right causes the stage to scroll again. This is great for exploration, as it allowed me to go back and pick up items I missed, but it can also be a hindrance. Mostly when I just want to quickly turn around to take down an enemy I missed, and the entire stage starts scrolling in reverse.
I love the branching paths in each stage. It gives reason to replay them and collect more currency, and of course to discover new enemies and bosses. Replaying stages is also imperative due to the skewed leveling system.
Oliver can purchase upgrades along the way, including partner characters that give him added benefits. The issue is that the upgrades get really expensive, really fast. It wasn’t long before I started to have to repeat levels just to grind for more coin. While the branching paths and extra areas help, it is still tedious to have to venture back to the same levels over and over just to progress. It feels woefully unbalanced.
I really enjoy the visual style of Gryphon Knight. The large, pixelated characters look great, and the variety of enemies and bosses really help with the repetition. The stages are also interesting most of the time. Animations are fantastic, and just the overall look of the package really stands out, even among the droves of retro-inspired titles these days.
Gryphon Knight Epic is one part fantastic, with a touch of frustration. With a few tweaks and some better design it would be something I could easily recommend for everyone. As it stands though, grinding to upgrade my abilities simply holds the title back from being great. Still definitely worth checking out though when time and money permits, or if you happen to catch it on a decent sale.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.