Story and visual aesthetics are a natural component of game design, but in many applications these two pillars of a gaming experience are not well-woven into gameplay. Story can often feel like a bonus layer on top of gameplay, especially in the case of platformers, and art direction can often feel exclusively taste-driven.

Shovel Knight is a fantastic example of how art and narrative can be used to enhance the action of a game without pulling the player away from the core mechanics that make a platformer engaging. It’s hard to do, but when it’s done well, it’s not only super impactful but also largely invisible.

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