Specter of Torment is the third story campaign of the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove. Specter of Torment originally released as a timed exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. The game is easily the most distinctive of the first three campaigns. Specter of Torment makes many gameplay differences to the original Shovel Knight. While also feeling very similar to the other two.
You are Donovan! After you and your traveling companion Luan attempt a mystifying heist in the Tower of Fate, you are transformed into the mystical Specter Knight, you’re cursed to serve the rest of your days under the Enchantress. Your task is to recruit eight knights into The Order of No Quarter, and hopefully retrieve your humanity. Specter of Torment is a prequel to the original Shovel Knight. An interesting concept that the game leans heavily into.
Specter Knight has an interesting dash move he can perform in the air. Where he is thrown forward into an enemy at an angle. This is the games “centric mechanic” and it is fun. In my first play-through, it took me until the end of the game to get used to it. I really wonder how. It’s simple to do, and easy to pick up on the benefits.
Specter of Torment places you into a small section of the Tower of Fate. There are plenty of places to explore, and secrets to find, but it’s a lot smaller in scope than the original two. I personally think that works well into its favor. Shovel Knight has always been intended as a brief, but joyous, experience. With less travel to important locations, it accomplishes a lot to help itself. My playtime was significantly decreased just by the lack of backtracking through towns.
Specter Knight has access to a new type of item called “curious”. They are incredibly similar to the relic’s of campaigns’ old. They are purchasable with red skulls you collect in the different levels. I used a singular curio in my entire playthrough. I already knew that the Will Skull was very overpowered. Allowing you to heal for a very small energy cost. I didn’t know that you could upgrade the thing to heal you more. Every other curio was obsolete to me. I barely even bought any of the others.
Curios are collected by completing challenges in their own stages. A different take than just finding Chester in the last two campaigns. I like this change a lot, accessing the stages requires spending the red skulls you collect, because it is the best of both worlds. In curios stages you don’t drop treasure when you die. It forces you to find the skulls with risk, and then gives you a huge safety net to get the curio. I absolutely love this change.
There are a multitude of changes made to bosses. Very few of the fights even resemble what they are in Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows. I had forgotten how different they were, and it served as a nice surprise. I think my favorite was Mole Knight.
Specter of Torment spends a lot more time telling story than the previous two games. I really don’t want to spoil the story. The game has a very unique, and heartwrenching way of telling its tale. Even after knowing the ending, it still hit like a truck. This game made me cry… twice.
I believe Specter of Torment is the best looking and sounding out of the original three. The new remixes for every stage are wonderful, and the new songs are even better. I haven’t brought it up the past two reviews, but I am glad the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove includes sound tests for every game. I didn’t really use it for the other two whereas here I definitely am.
I loved Specter of Torment. I believe it absolutely outdoes itself in comparison to the other two. Only one stage dragged on, and everything felt fair the whole way around. Specter Knight is easily the most fun to control out of the original three. It feels like Yacht Club really hit their stride with this one. Perhaps their best work yet. If you only get to play one of these games, make it Specter of Torment.