Knytt is a platform, side-scroller created by a swedish game developer named Nicklas Nygren (known better by his handle, Nifflas). It has all the elements you'd expect from freeware: a short storyline, modest graphics, simple gameplay. But what it lacks in length and complexity, it makes up in character and style.

The plot of Knytt is simple. While out for a stroll, the Knytt is abducted by an alien. The spacecraft ascends into the cosmos, and while traversing, is hit by a meteoroid. The ship crash lands onto another planet, scattering its components across the terrain. It is Knytt's job to retrieve these parts so he and the alien may escape.

The spectrum of movement employed in Knytt is limited to just a few simple maneuvers, however, they are in perfect balance with their dictating physics system.

Knytt jumps, climbs, and descends his way through the strange world. Each one of these maneuvers is necessary to utilize in order to accomplish the goals of the game. In a way, this makes Knytt an interesting observation (and perhaps study) in simplicity, being a condition of profundity. What I mean by this is that Knytt, through a return to gameplay simplicity (like in the games of vintage), manages to strip itself down to its bare essentials: run, jump, climb, fall. Because of this technical simplification, a new world can be observed. Knytt is not concerned with gathering a weapon with which to kill creatures, nor is he concerned with collecting artifacts or establishing mercantile relations. Knytt just sort of scampers up and down rock faces and grassy knolls. His movement is light and an aesthetic delight to observe.

As for the music, it can only be described as fitting. Subtle ambient quips interject tastefully throughout gameplay. Soft pads and delicate percussive hits act as a background for the world of Knytt. This is a delight for me. I am always excited to see music being used as another layer to gameplay rather than detracting from it.

The environment of Knytt is vibrant and lush, with every color emerging from its designation. It's a bouquet of minimalism, showcasing what any good game designer can do with less lines and less explosions.

This guy Nifflas is the real deal. He's just a little, semi-independent swedish game designer, but he has already impressed me with his work. Oh, did I mention he writes all of the music for his games?

Knytt's gameplay is rather short (which is certainly a result of its being freeware) and does lack some depth to its gameplay. But as I've said, what it lacks in depth seems to be made up in simplicity, which in turn elicits a new and valuable plane of gameplay experience. In a time of MMORPGs and first-person shooters, Knytt is just a drop in the ocean. However, that is part of the game's appeal. It's quaint. It's unpretentious. It's subtle and beautifully elegant. The gameplay is focused on more than merely accomplishing the task of finding the missing parts to reassemble the alien ship. It instead seems concerned with the journey itself.

platform utilized: pc
genre: platform, side-scrolling
where to find: Luckily, Knytt is freeware. That means you don't have to pay any money. Visit Nifflas' site or download right here.

Unpretentious Elegance: Knytt, 2006

Posted on

Jul 27, 2011

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