If you need a break from finding creative ways to kill Bokoblins in Breath of the Wild, allow me to suggest a different type of game: Specter of Torment, a new standalone Shovel Knight expansion that’s just as good if not better than the original.
Although Specter of Torment will be free to anyone who owns the original version of Shovel Knight on other consoles, it’s a timed exclusive on Nintendo Switch, where you can get it now (either as part of the “Treasure Trove” compilation that includes the other Shovel Knight campaigns, or as a standalone game that’s simply called Specter of Torment). It is essentially a new version of Shovel Knight. The levels, bosses, and abilities are all entirely different, and it’s chock full of fun (and brutal) platforming challenges that make for a nice diversion after 10 straight hours of Breath of the Wild.
When I visited Shovel Knight development studio Yacht Club Games last year while reporting for my book—pre-order now!!!!—one of the things that struck me most was that in 2016, two years after the release of Shovel Knight, they were still working on Kickstarter stretch goals for the game. Included in those Kickstarter stretch goals were three boss campaigns: Plague Knight, Specter Knight, and King Knight. Originally, Yacht Club hoped to get them all out within a year, but things didn’t quite work out. They were, as you might imagine, a little sick of making Shovel Knight.
The Plague Knight campaign came out in 2015, but it didn’t get much attention, in part because it was simply a free update to Shovel Knight (only this year did Yacht Club decide to turn all the campaigns into standalone versions), and in part because it wasn’t all that great. Bouncing around as the villainous alchemist seemed like an idea that was more fun in theory than practice, and Plague Knight’s charging mechanic could be a little frustrating to use.
Specter of Torment, on the other hand, is phenomenal. Playing as the cloaked, scythe-wielding demonic Specter Knight, you can slash monsters, climb walls, and perform air dashes by jumping and then slashing diagonally through any enemy or obstacle that’s in your path. This is an incredibly fun mechanic that never gets old, and Specter of Torment uses it in some clever ways as the game goes on. (There’s even a story, and it’s surprisingly impactful.)
King Knight still isn’t out yet, in case you’re wondering. Hopefully it’ll launch before 2018 so Yacht Club Games can move on to a new game. But for now, if you’ve got a Switch and want to play something that isn’t Zelda, Specter of Torment is well worth your time.