Gryphon Knight Epic on PC
The side-scrolling shoot ’em up is a staple of classic gaming. Gryphon Knight Epic, Cyber Rhino Studios’ medieval take on the genre, stays true to form with plenty of old-school action and graphics. With potent bosses and mini-bosses to face down in each of the game’s several stages, several weapons to collect and upgrade, and more, Gryphon Knight Epic has plenty of the arcade-style action you’d expect to find. Can nostalgia alone carry a title, though?
Gryphon Knight Epic follows the tale of Sir Oliver, a prestigious knight who, along with a band of heroes, slew a dragon to save the kingdom of Valiantskies in days past. Since this epic struggle, though, Sir Oliver has found himself wanting to relive his glory days as things at home with the lovely princess have grown dull. Sent out for groceries, our hero finds more than he bargained for when an evil specter of himself appears, and speaks of spreading ruin across the realm. Now, Oliver must battle against his former allies, corrupted by ancient weapons taken from the dragon’s lair during their adventure.
As the title Gryphon Knight Epic may suggest, Sir Oliver is a somewhat unique knight, riding a gryphon called Aquila into battle. Astride this mighty steed, players must guide Sir Oliver through a series of challenging stages to face and defeat each of his six former friends, using an amulet to purge their darkness from them and claiming their cursed weapons for his own. Each stage is broken into two segments, with a mini-boss awaiting at the break and one of the warriors ready to take on Oliver at the close.
With a definite nod towards old-school gaming, Gryphon Knight Epic looks and feels like a classic 16-bit title. While levels are mostly left-to-right, Aquila can change directions at any time, and sometimes revealing a stage’s secrets may require travelling back, or even searching hidden areas above and below.
Each stage hides a powerful Rune that will enhance Sir Oliver’s abilities, including a powerful, short-range dash, overall speed increase, and a boost to the magic power used to fire the weapons collected from his rescued comrades. The controls are responsive, though movement is slow in many areas and the camera pan will follow Aquila’s direction, which can make dealing with foes arriving from the rear tough to manage.
While Gryphon Knight Epic may not bring much new to the shoot ’em up genre, it’s a pretty solid entry. With weapon and rune upgrades, potions, and helpful sidekicks, there’s plenty to help players get through the enemy-riddled world and accomplish their quest. Difficulty is also variable on a stage by stage basis, meaning that if something is too tough — or too easy — players can adjust on the fly. Higher difficulty also yields higher cash reward, while the easier mode will cut it down in exchange for more healing item drops from your foes. It’s a well-balanced system, and I had no trouble making my way through each level on the “normal” difficulty.
Honestly, as I mentioned before, Gryphon Knight Epic doesn’t bring a lot of innovation to the table. That said, with its relatively free movement and exploration, secrets to uncover, and several weapons to upgrade and master, it delivers well on what it does offer. For a reasonable $12.99 on Steam, genre fans are likely to find their money’s worth here, though more modern-minded gamers may find the slow pacing dull and the difficulty not worth the effort. That said, if you yearn for old-school action with some good variety to the gameplay, it’s worth a look.