Shovel Knight is one of (relatively few) Kickstarter games which have enjoyed continued success following their campaign and subsequent release. The first outing by developer Yacht Club Games, it shattered it’s original campaign goal of $75,000 when it launched in March 2013, finishing at an impressive $311,502. It promised a return to the challenging platformer of the NES era, with a lush 8-bit aesthetic to match. Come release day in June of 2014, it was clear that it had delivered. Met with widespread acclaim, it currently averages a Metacritic score of 90/100 across seven consoles. There was little time for the devs to rest on their laurels, however, as every one of the stretch goals they had set were met during the initial campaign.
These stretch goals included the addition of three of the bosses as playable characters, as well as a 4-player battle mode. There was no tier system for backers, anyone who bought the game at any stage of development would have access to all of these modes on their release. This was still the case following the release of the first additional campaign, Plague of Shadows, in September 2015. While following the same basic formula as the original, it featured a new playable character in Plague Knight and boasted a unique story with new NPC’s, music and cutscenes. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2017, nearing the release of the second extra campaign, that Yacht Club Games sought to reexamine how the game was being sold.
The result was Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. For more than 1.5 million people who had already purchased the game, the system stays exactly the same. All current and future content is available at no extra cost. This includes the (previously WiiU exclusive) co-op mode, which wasn’t even a part of the initial campaign. For everyone else, the game has been divided into three separate, standalone games. They can be bought bundled at a slightly higher price than the initial release price of Shovel Knight, or as individual campaigns. In doing so they’ve effectively given new players the option to entirely forego sections of the game that they have no interest in, or to check out just one before they decide to purchase the rest.
The end result is entirely free DLC, not just for Kickstarter backers, but for anyone who purchased the game over a period of four years. Those who weren’t so fortunate are being offered multiple, optional entry points into a series that has proved consistently excellent since it’s inception. This includes the latest addition, Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, which was released in April alongside the Body Swap mode. Both of these will receive a full review in the next post, so be sure to keep an eye out!