Knytt Stories

I serendipitously found myself playing Knytt Stories recently. This was great luck for me not just because the game is fascinating and well done, but because the game closely some ideas in my last post, Interactive Music Videos.

Knytt is a hyper-simple game in every respect. The character is about eight pixels tall. No anti-aliasing. Tile-based world. Simple sound effects. On the surface it looks like a rather excessively easy classical platformer.

But there is something about this game. Those simple elements come together with a strange, austere perfection.

In an odd way, the design strikes me as being fragile. If any part was missing or significantly changed, it would be destroyed. This reflects the skill and luck of the designer. Most games already are destroyed in this respect. They may still be fun, but the elements rarely ever come together with such fragile perfection. Knytt manages to create a deep impression on the player with incredible efficiency. There is just so little there, I almost can’t believe I liked it so much.

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The game is free, and quite short and approachable. Go play it now.

Welcome back. The way this game ties in with my Interactive Music Videos idea is that this game creates enjoyment by eliminating conscious thought with an almost hypnotic combination of chillout music and simple, satisfying, continuous gameplay. There is nothing that breaks flow in this game. The dialogue is extremely austere. Saving is accomplished instantly with a single button-press on a save location. Dying brings you back at your last save within a few seconds. The game is never nerve-wrackingly difficult to the point where you need to lean forward and really pay attention. You simply sit down and fall into the game, and let yourself enjoy the pat-pat-pat of the protagonist’s feet and the ambient music.

I said the game was fragile. I think that if you removed the footstep sounds, the game would instantly lose a large portion of its effectiveness.

Some guy named George Bernard Shaw said, “I am sorry to have written a long letter, but I did not have time to write a short one.” I feel like some game people, having played Knytt, should be publishing an open latter saying “I am sorry to have made a complicated game, but I did not have time to make a simple one.”

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