—chivalry is alive—
*warning: contains personal anecdotes
I HAD ALMOST given up my search for this game. In all honesty, I thought I would never find it, and my memory of it would be forever washed away into digital obscurity. Countless, painstaking internet searches yielded games like Defender of the Crown, Joust, and King’s Quest, but deep down I knew they weren’t the treasure I was seeking. My mission was doomed. As doomed as poor Aladdin must have felt when Jaffar sent him hurtling back into the bowels of the Cave of Wonders on that fateful night. But as fate would have it, it was the discovery of one website that would change everything.
You may be wondering why the unearthing of a site like www.virtualapple.org was so important to me. Well dear reader, imagine that you’re a little kid again. Imagine that there’s a book, film, toy or something special you haven’t seen in years, and then being able to see it again. You might not even have any memories left at all, but the ones you do, you hold onto life a lifebuoy. And so it was that after some light browsing through the selection of offered games, one of them seemed to ring a bell. It was called Chivalry, and the moment I heard the music in this trailer, waves of memories came flooding back. This was it. This was it, and I just couldn’t believe it. I was bursting with excitement! My heart began to warm, my neurons were abuzz, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Before I knew it, my fingers were pressing the Enter button of their own accord. It’s funny how something so digital and artificial can produce such a reaction in a living, breathing human being. I guess that’s the magic of games.
According to Wikipedia, Chivalry is an action RPG that dates back to 1983. It was developed and published by Optimum Resource for the Apple II computer, and much like a board game, players must wait their turn to play. The main difference with a classic board game is that instead of you spinning the wheel or rolling the die for yourself, the game does it for you. Chivalry supports up to four different players, which can be ladies or knights depending on your preference. Although it is classified as a single-player experience, the turn-based system is perfect for playing with friends and family members. But of course, ignoring that fact and keeping it all to yourself is perfectly ok as well. And if my sources are correct, Chivalry also came with a board game in addition to the computer game-read-the perfect Christmas gift for lovers of the RPG genre.
Chivalry’s narrative is short yet sweet, and provides you with just enough impetus to get started. The King has been captured by the agents of The Black Knight, and requests that only his bravest nobles come to his rescue. The Black Knight keeps him hostage in a castle, which when you begin the game is quite out of your reach. As you propel yourself into Chivalry’s randomly generated gameplay, you encounter a number of simple tasks that fit perfectly within the medieval theme of the game: Catching sacks of wheat, throwing darts, or engaging in a spot of jousting-the list just goes on. The humour dished out by Chivalry’s invisible narrator is nothing but refreshing, and by the time you’ve reached The Black Knight’s castle, you may very well have formed a love-hate relationship with them.
Like most retro style games, Chivalry’s controls use the arrow keys and Enter key for movement and action. This is simple at best, since it doesn’t need a mouse and never becomes too overwhelming to remember. However, some challenges are a bit vague in terms of how we should use the keys to succeed-like getting past the Troll’s Bridge (oh the horror). That aside, players begin their medieval adventures at Fair Castle, from where they progress in a board-game style fashion towards The Black Knight’s castle. Each playthrough delivers a different and randomised experience, which keeps Chivalry fresh and exciting; You never know what number you’ll roll, and there are multiple pathways to reach the same goal. Those curious for a full map breakdown of the game can check it out here.
Graphics-wise, Chivalry has been described as having ‘voluptuous’ visuals, and while I don’t disagree, I would like to add that they are bold, colourful, and deliciously 8-bit. One of the locations-specifically, a jousting session at The Templar’s Castle-even bears a strong resemblance to a jousting match present in Defender of the Crown. Combined with the basic background music, these graphics make for an unexpectedly absorbing experience. Chivalry also boasts a massive range of places to explore. Most places give you a choice to try out a particular challenge, so you are free to refuse-but there will always be consequences for your decisions; Losing a challenge may cast you back one square, but so might choosing to avoid it altogether. The true fun of Chivalry lies in giving everything a go, and trying to discover all the possible places on the game board. Like many games or life experiences in general, it proves that it is the journey and not the destination which is important. But blast it if I didn’t have fun defeating The Black Knight!
WHY YOU SHOULD PLAY IT:
- You yearn for text-based games of yesteryear
- You appreciate the beauty of turn-based games
- You enjoy board games
- You have a fascination with all things medieval
- You just want some more chivalry in your life
- Highly-choice driven
- Diverse range of locations and minigames
- Great humour
- Good replayability
- Randomly generated gameplay
- Typing commands don’t always respond
- Controls in some minigames hard to figure out
- Slightly repetitive
Whether ye be a Lady, or whether ye be a Sir, the King needs you! Dost thou possess the courage to face The Black Knight?*
Play Chivalry here.
*Note: The easiest way to play Chivalry is through Mozilla Firefox. You can do it via Google Chrome and Internet Explorer but the process is much more fiddly.