Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Brandon (Michael) Howard 07.03.2017 4

Review for Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on Nintendo Switch

Specter of Torment is the third expansion created from the wildly successful Kickstarter for the original Shovel Knight, following the original game and the first expansion, Plague of Shadows. This time around, the star is the eponymous Specter Knight, boss of the Lich Yard level in the other two campaigns. From the outset, it's clear that Specter of Torment has a much darker tone compared to the relatively light-hearted adventures prior, but there's still more to discover in Yacht Club Games' newest tale.

Plague of Shadows added so much to the original Shovel Knight that it's kind of hard to imagine anything topping it. It reimagined the entire original game with a new character, with a completely different skillset, new curios to collect, and partially redesigned areas to better fit Plague Knight's erratic move-set. Specter of Torment, on the other hand, feels like a completely different game. Yes, the levels and bosses share some common elements, but it still feels completely fresh.

Screenshot for Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on Nintendo Switch

Compared to Shovel Knight and Plague Knight, Specter Knight's move-set is very heavily skewed towards aerial combat. While Shovel Knight's downward shovel bounce did offer a lot of uses in the air, and Plague Knight had some off the wall potion options to keep himself aloft, Specter Knight literally slices through the air, cutting down enemies in his wake. By bouncing of walls, and carefully positioning him across the screen, it's possible to move through entire levels with scarcely ever touching the ground.

Much of the way Specter Knight controls through each level will likely feel a little jarring to those used to Shovel and Plague Knight's various controls, as Specter Knight thrives in the skies. Overall, there's a lot more dexterity required in this adventure, as most of the challenges are aerial, and timing-based in nature. Getting used to the way Specter Knight's mid-air dash attack auto targets enemies and obstacles above or below him requires a bit of practice, and it's important to time each slash just right.

Screenshot for Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on Nintendo Switch

The levels have definitely been revamped to fit these changes, however. As Specter of Torment is a prequel to the original game, it makes sense for some changes to be seen throughout the valley wherein Shovel Knight takes place, as the various knights set up their bases of command. Many of the levels have completely redesigned sections to take advantage of Specter Knight's aerial superiority, adding lanterns and floating monsters for him to slash through, and rails for him to grind through the skies on.

Similar to Plague of Shadows, Specter Knight can purchase upgrades through his main base, using both gold and collectable skulls that are hidden away inside each level. New abilities can be unlocked through spending gold and skulls to unlock new armour and curios that grant Specter Knight new abilities. Stat upgrades are found much more directly inside levels than in the previous adventures, and although their locations are relatively well hidden, veterans of either prior campaign will have a good idea of where to start looking.

Screenshot for Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on Nintendo Switch

The narrative is also a lot darker in tone, which certainly fits both the character and the increased difficulty. As a prequel to Shovel Knight and Plague of Shadows, Specter of Torment details the beginnings of the Enchantress and her nefarious Order of No Quarter, the gauntlet of bosses that serve as the main bosses for the series. While both previous stories use personal experiences and loss to frame the setting, this journey takes it to an entirely new level.

Yacht Club Games has also experimented with some new things this time around. There are some really visually stunning flashback scenes that are done in black and white, and fully playable ones at that. Even the way levels are accessed fits in so thematically well, and the way sub-bosses work with the altered map is cool and supremely interesting. The story is as engrossing as ever, but the exceptional gameplay is what will keep players coming back for more.

Screenshot for Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is exceptional. It's always incredible to see what new ways Yacht Club Games is able to reimagine the same universe, and without fail, it does it in a way that makes the experience feel completely fresh. While the setting may be similar, Specter of Torment is so completely unlike the previous two games, both in setting and gameplay. Everything about it is absolutely addictive and impossible to put down, making it a perfect launch title for the Nintendo Switch.


Yacht Club Games


Yacht Club Games


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


The month of the Video Game Gold Medals? Smilie

Can't a fella drink in peace?

And people say there's nothing worthwhile on Switch, other than Zelda! Smilie

Just Dance is only getting an 8/10... Please look forward to it Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

2017 is off to a ridiculous start. amazing games one after another.

I am sure Fire Emblem Echoes and Mario Oddessy will follow suit as well!

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