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Knight Crawlers is a clever action-RPG with endearingly goofy baddies

Wobble, wobble, toil and trouble.

Taking on a boss in a stony dungeon in Knight Crawlers.
Image credit: Good Morning Game/Valve

Knight Crawlers is an action-RPG kind of thing that came out earlier this year. Having bounced off Diablo 4 a bit, I've still had an itch to disappear into the depths and smack skeletons around. Knight Crawlers has done me proud so far. I'm not too far in, but I'm having a great time.

It's a roguelite at heart. Each journey into the procedural depths sees you creating a build as you level that lives for just that run. But any gold you collect - it may not be called gold, I'm between specs at the moment - goes back to the hub where you can spend it on permanent upgrades. And so, over time, you get further and further into the game, while each run remains charmingly distinct.

In truth, Knight Crawlers is charmingly distinct from the off. It has wonderfully wobbly physics, which means that the enemies who chase after you all totter around like eggs balanced precariously on a kitchen counter. The ragdolling as you do them in is very satisfying, and there's a lovely gormlessness to both heroes and villains here.

Knight Crawlers.Watch on YouTube

The game also has some neat ideas. When you go into a new room of the dungeon, you choose when to spawn enemies, by standing on a summoning circle and pressing a button. Most rooms will need multiple spawns to be defeated in order to open the door to the next room, but you have control over the pacing to a certain extent.

Rooms are also littered with traps that you can kite your pursuers over, and there's a lovely tension between creating space and narrowing it. Ranged attacks are automatic, but require you to be standing still. Melee is handled with a button press but it comes with a dangerous cooldown. You're always on the edge of being swamped.

Best of all, each level you hit sees you choosing between three cards with upgrades. There's nothing new to this, but given the pace and the deadliness of Knight Crawlers, each choice really feels like you're gambling on your immediate future - you're rolling dice on the next five minutes. Do you want to skip a health boost in favour of a lightning attack which comes with its own cooldown? Do you want to skip a cooling frost orb so that you can get more experience from every enemy defeated?

There's a lightness and floppiness to Knight Crawlers that some people might feel slightly off-putting. It can feel insubstantial at times as you're ploughing through it. But the ideas behind it all are smart and beautifully deployed. I won't be giving up for quite a while.

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