Some Retrospec remakes are very good, but occasionally they get it wrong and put something out that doesn’t really work. Knight Lore and Alien 8 are two Retrospec remakes of Ultimate games that just do not work as well as the originals.
My main issue with this game is that it is way too dark. Even with gamma settings ramped-up high it still isn’t very well balanced when it comes to lightness and contrast levels. While I understand that the developers may have made it as dark as it is to show off their lighting effects, it seriously hampers the look of the game to have it as dark as it is, at least on the default settings. A professional software developer would not have allowed the game to be released in the state that it’s in, but Retrospec are enthusiastic amateurs, so I can’t be too hard on them. I’m certainly not going to ignore a game’s flaws, though.
Secondly: the animation of the playable character (Sabreman) is pretty bad – especially the wolf, which waddles along hilariously like a semi-paralysed cartoon duck. Except that I’m laughing at it, not with it. The animation really should have been better (and I say this as someone who majored in animation at university – I’m not saying this as someone who doesn’t understand the process).
Thirdly: there are a number of fundamental issues with the gameplay that are not authentic to the original. Gate sequencing/opening is not quite right. Jumping underneath hazards isn’t right. And jumping and simultaneously picking up an object that you’re standing on is also more troublesome than it should be. These might seem like small things, but they’re important. It seems pointless to me that you’d remake a classic game and not properly translate the elements that made it so good in the first place.
On the plus side: the title screen is excellent; the music is great, as are the lighting and shadowing effects. The cauldron screen is particularly atmospheric. I can tell that the developers put some effort into making that particular screen look impressive.
This Retrospec Knight Lore remake also runs quite quickly on modern PCs – maybe too quickly. While it’s not as unplayable as their remake of Alien 8 (which drove me nuts due to its fast speed), it’s not a game that’s been developed with modern PCs in mind. So bare that in mind when you play it.
Not that I would recommend this game. Not unless you’re capable of either slowing the game down (Advanced Game Launcher can do that), or making do that it runs fast, or playing it on old hardware. Or ignoring the fact that it is way too dark. Being objective, and trying to be as fair to this remake as possible (considering that it is twelve years old now), I still feel that it is a bit of an amateurish misfire.