D-PADS AND DICE: 'Knytt' escape game is free, for all

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As I write this we are on the verge of the next installment of the mammoth "Call of Duty" franchise.

It's about to take the world by storm, making uncounted millions of dollars. It will be loud, bombastic and violent. Thousands of hands worked on it, and millions will play it.

Which is why I'm not going to talk about that game. I'm going to talk about "Knytt."

In "Knytt" you play a monkeylike child possibly named Knight. An alien steals it away from its home, and then promptly crashes on an unfamiliar planet. The little fellow must then use his jumping and climbing ability to find the parts of the ship so he can go home.

The world of "Knytt" is one large space. It's filled with surfaces to climb on, inhabitants both friendly and hostile, and strange and mysterious sights that are presented without explanation.

The world feels big, especially the first time you play through it. It's filled with little nooks and crannies that add to the feeling of being an existent place, albeit one totally set apart from our everyday reality.

Its whimsical art direction is an immediate draw, somewhere between MS Paint, 8-bit Pixel art, cartoons and a storybook. The music is low key, and really adds to the sensation of exploring an unknown world.

But this is a world you feel as much as see, because you need to jump over lava, climb up and down walls, and dodge the occasional giant spider lurking in what may be an abandoned mine.

You can press a button to show where the nearest part of your ship is, but the game never tells you how to get there. You feel like you begin to understand this world through your movement.

There's no dialogue or story beyond the opening and closing cut scenes, so you're left to wander the world trying to make sense of it all.

"Knytt" is quiet and thoughtful. It's been around for a few years now after gaining a fan base in indie-video game circles. It was made by a guy in Sweden, Nicklas ‘Nifflas' Nyrgren.

It wasn't even programmed in the traditional way, but snapped together in a game creation system called Multimedia Fusion 2. One person made the music, the graphics and gameplay. A lot of love was put into this game, and it shows.

So, in the calm before the storm of big budget holiday game releases, give "Knytt" a play.

It's free, and it's a testament to what games can be besides blockbusters. The game can be downloaded on PC from nifflas.ni2.se/?page=Knytt. You can learn more about Knytt and other games from the same creator at nifflas.ni2.se/.

Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. He's currently a graphic arts student the Evergreen State College, working on various art projects and game designs. Send him your questions and comments at noahhinz@gmail.com.

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