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Knights and Bikes PS4 Review

6 min read
Want to join my biker gang? We have scones!
Knights and Bikes

Want to join my biker gang? We have scones!

What They Say:
KNIGHTS AND BIKES is a hand-painted action-adventure for 1 or 2 players, set on on British island in the 1980s. It’s a coming-of-age story starring Nessa & Demelza, exploring the coasts of Penfurzy on their trusty bikes, looking for a legendary lost treasure in a Goonies-inspired tale of excitement, danger, fun and friendship. 
The two new friends, along with their pet-goose and the pickled-head of an undead knight, form the Penfurzy Rebel Bicycle Club, and are ready for anything this adventure throws at them. They pedal into danger to face threats head-on with frisbees, water-balloons, video game controllers and the powerful beats of an amplified boom-box. 
Along the way they’ll stuff their pockets with trinkets and barter for bike upgrades, spurring them onwards down the island’s country lanes, windswept beaches, deep forests, modern attractions and ancient ruins. 
Together their friendship will create an adventure as big as their imaginations.

Full disclosure right at the top here. I backed the Kickstarter for this game and my copy is my Kickstarter reward. My name is in the end credits, so I can’t hide the fact even if I wanted to.

However, this is the first video game I’ve backed that I’ve actually been completely satisfied with the outcome. (Sorry other games…) This game didn’t get released piecemeal, in early access, or in an otherwise feature incomplete state. It’s whole, it’s wholesome, it’s fun.

The game stars a little girl named Demelza, who lives in a campground her father owns on the (fictional) British island of Penfurzy. It’s the 1980’s and the economy has taken a downward turn, and as the sky darkens and the first cold winds of fall blow in from the ocean so does Nessa. Nessa is the other star of the game, another preteen girl who is as streetwise as Demelza is countrywise. Both troublemakers, they meet under misunderstood circumstances and become friends. Demelza soon ropes Nessa into a hunt for a lost buried treasure, hidden by knights of ages past.

Gameplay follows a simple action-adventure formula, split into chapters but with a bit of open roaming between key story locations. The girls start off with one move each that is a simple attack. The types of attacks and the number of abilities increases at various story moments, some of which are more useful than others. While there is a small amount of strategy involved, most battles devolve into brawling chaos. Currency is in the form of trinkets of all sorts found lying around, from worms to trading cards to lost action figures. Exploration rewards more of these, which are exchanged for customization options for your bikes.

Boy, there are a lot of things you can add to a bike.

Let me take a moment to talk about how beautiful this game is. The whole game is 2D on a 3D plane, done is a style which resembles chalk or pastel illustrations. The whole world animates, quivers and shimmies with little details. The developers of this game, Rex Crowle and Moo Yu are former Media Molecule developers and there is definitely some of that DNA in this project. It shares a similar aesthetic to Tearaway. The way the world is designed and created does result in a few moments of camera frustration. Sometimes you can get lost behind the facade of objects and potentially lose track of your player. Otherwise, the scenery is magnificent.

The sound design of the game is likewise great. The music and effects are lovely. The characters don’t talk but the girls do laugh and giggle, growl and shout in human voices.

The game can be played as either a single-player experience with AI controlling the second character or as a co-op experience. The AI handles itself extremely well, almost too well as there were moments where I didn’t even need to figure out puzzles because the AI would head to the correct location to activate a switch or use an ability to solve a puzzle. There are plenty of moments where the game will toss in a co-op focused activity than can absolutely be completed alone. Narratively, they make you feel like the two friends are growing closer, but I can help but feel they’re more fun competing with a friend. I did manage to track down a player 2 in my 13-year-old nephew for the final dungeon. I was able to quickly get him up to speed on the controls and we were on our way. Like many co-op experiences, communication is key. The game provides ways for you to play locally or online with a friend with jump-in/jump-out gameplay. The only major problem with co-op in the potential for your partner to try to wander as far away as possible, and the camera will only zoom out so far. This isn’t a split-screen experience.

The thing that really struck me about the game was just how heartfelt and sometimes dark the story is. Demelza’s quest to find the lost treasure is so that she can save her home. Business has been down and finding the treasure would allow her father to hold onto the RV campground. There’s been loss in her family and it has weighed heavily on both Demelza and her father. Nessa simply wants to get rich, but Nessa is far more of a cipher. We gradually get an idea of her past and why she might have come to the island. Many of the characters you meet on the island are otherwise depressed emotionally or economically. Yet despite the gloom lurking everywhere and a friendship filled with ups and downs, Demelza tries to stay upbeat. Her imagination fills her world with adventure, turning everyday objects into extraordinary ones. 

The final chapter of the game did feel a bit short, a bit rushed. One huge plot reveal probably could have had a bit more time to percolate. The ending has a slightly ambiguous quality that left me feeling a bit sad, but hopeful. It’s an adventure that doesn’t overstay its welcome, although for the player used to a more complex challenge or directed experience it may feel a little aimless in the in-between moments.


This is a Unity coded game, so there’s some occasional stuttering on a base PS4. Otherwise, it’s a sharp-looking game that performs well.


Medium. I completed the game in about 10 hours, although it could be rushed through and completed quicker. There’s a platinum trophy which requires tracking down all the hidden treasure boxes which could add several extra hours to the game. 

In Summary:

Knights and Bikes delivers on its promise of capturing the feel of a childhood adventure. Demelza and Nessa are the brats of an age past when parents weren’t so controlling and computers were novelties. Bikes are freedom to roam, and we get to relive that age of wonder and magic. There’s a surprisingly touching story of friendship and loss here that I didn’t expect. By the end of the adventure, I was sad that Demelza and Nessa’s journey was over. While it’s a fun adventure to play solo, it really shines when you have a friend to bounce off of and enjoy the ride with. The puzzles aren’t that puzzling and the combat is fairly simplistic, but the writing is stellar and the sense of a specific time and place is very good. Plus the music and art are amazing. I recommend a long fall afternoon, a cup of tea (don’t forget the scones), and this game. 

Grade: A –

Developer: Foam Sword Games
Publisher: Double Fine
Age Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: August 27, 2019
MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Steam for PC/Mac/Linux

All images are provided by double fine and used with permission.