Indie developer Yacht Club Games gave an extended look at Shovel Knight‘s upcoming “Plague of Shadows” expansion at Gamescom this week, revealing that the game’s campaign changes drastically when players assume the role of the newly playable Plague Knight.
Originally a boss in Shovel Knight, Plague Knight boasts his own unique attacks and abilities, allowing players to explore familiar territory from an alchemist’s perspective.
Unlike the heroic Shovel Knight, the alchemist Plague Knight carries an arsenal of potions and flasks into battle, enabling powerful ranged attacks. Each potion has its own unique properties, and players can mix-and-match the contents from each flask in order to craft new weaponry as situations demand.
Plague Knight doesn’t carry a shovel into battle, and thus can’t dig through the game’s environments or take out enemies with melee attacks. Plague of Shadows revolves around players creating unique solutions for challenges that would be trivial for Shovel Knight, but difficult for characters who don’t share his abilities.
While Shovel Knight had a limited amount of magic power to use for special attacks, Plague Knight can use a much broader variety of moves thanks to a retooled magic meter that recharges between attacks. While this makes some combat encounters trivial, players must figure out new ways to traverse levels that cater to Shovel Knight’s melee-focused repertoire. Fortunately, Plague Knight has the ability to double-jump, allowing him to easily bypass some of the game’s trickier level layouts.
Plague Knight faces a unique struggle when it comes to progression and equipment upgrades. Being a villain, Plague Knight isn’t welcomed by the game’s townsfolk, closing off upgrade paths available to Shovel Knight. Plague Knight will need to find new allies and alternate ways to boost his abilities before heading into the game’s tougher levels.
Plague of Shadows also introduces a Challenge Mode, which offers up a series of retooled level segments. Challenge Mode includes stages for both Plague Knight and Shovel Knight, and each will test the characters’ abilities with fierce enemy encounters and intense traversal challenges.
Plague of Shadows will launch first as a free update later this year for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U versions of Shovel Knight. Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC players will receive the patch at a later date.