Games are advancing in a way that was never thought possible at a rate that makes it hard to keep up with the latest trends and emerging genres. At the same time, developers and players still seem to love to always go back to the classics. Think Shovel Knight or The Messenger. Both incredible games that play into the nostalgia of gaming’s past. Bucket Knight, a classic style run-and-gun platformer, attempts to hit that same feeling but does it reach the same heights of those that came before or does it kick the proverbial bucket before even having that chance?
If you are looking for a straight forward platformer with guns then this might be your thing. It doesn’t bog you down with an overload of elements, instead it sticks to the core gameplay loop of run, jump, and gun. You go from stage to stage fighting random baddies and trying to collect as much money as you can before exiting the level. In some cases, there are unique variations to a level such as one with rising saw blades on the ground where you must quickly climb faster than the aforementioned death trap. It was a shame because a little more variety would have been warmly welcomed.
You start with a basic pistol but as you gain currency in the game, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade. There are 3 other weapons that all do about the same thing: increasing the rate of fire of your weapon. The problem with this is there is really no reason to buy the other weapons, instead just save up for the most expensive gun and use that forever. Adding ammo and weapon swapping could have made this a little more complex to add purpose to having variety in the first place. Plus once you get that powerful gun, collecting money felt pointless other than getting a higher score on the level.
If you couldn’t tell, variety was a big concern for me in this game. In addition to the previously mentioned points, there were only a few enemies that appeared throughout the game which made the strategies for how you complete a level feel very similar as well. I honestly think if they had bosses it could have added a nice break in between each level of stages. The game started out pretty fun but after 20+ levels of the same characters, it becomes a bit repetitive.
As for the story, the game starts with a very basic premise where your character is attempting to get a home from what appears to be a mortgage lender but has no money. The lender and bucket knight make a deal that if he can get a golden chalice, he can exchange it for a home. It’s a quick start to jump you right into the game and leans into the old style of arcade games that don’t hold your hand when it comes to explaining mechanics in general. That being said, it’s all fairly straightforward so it doesn’t need it. Instead, it just serves a comedic purpose that this whole struggle is just to get a house.
Overall, I enjoyed my time playing Bucket Knight at first but later on slogged through the final levels to get to the end. It feels very old-school which is clearly what they were going for but doesn’t add much to that or feel like any specific games from that era to keep you attached. It does have a pretty sweet soundtrack but that’s not enough to make me recommend playing the 2 to 3 hours of the campaign. I think it had the potential to be great but needed a bit more polish in regards to variety and complexity.