Lunar Knights marks Konami’s interesting new foray into the Boktai series, which is now appearing for the first time on the Nintendo DS. While gamers have always seemed to have mixed opinions on the series that “forced” people to play under the sun, what happens when you take the sun away from the game’s universe?
Straying away from once again using the infamous sunlight sensor, Lunar Knights launches players into a world where vampires have succeeded in placing the world under perpetual darkness. While this might seem like a bad thing at first, it initially puts players in the shoes of Lucian, a seriously pissed off sword-toting vampire hunter whose inhuman powers derive from absorbing the light of the moon.
Following strings of leads, Lucian tackles one of the head vampires, which puts a hole in the blanket of darkness engulfing the planet. Finally, with a shred of sunlight now hitting earth, the game’s second character, Aaron, armed with what seems to be a useless solar gun, realizes his potential and sets off with Lucian to rid the world of the evil vampires.
While players initially control only Lucian or Aaron through the story’s introductions, when the two heroes meet, they can be switched on the fly with a press of the select button. This element becomes crucial to progression in the game as with the light sensor gone from the Boktai cartridges, Lunar Knights uses an in game day and night cycle.
To further stress strategies, the top screen of the DS not only indicates what time of the day it is, but also the current weather conditions. Cloudy conditions will obviously block the sun or moon and traveling indoors will also hinder access to whichever light is currently available. If characters have no access to light, they will have to depend on restoration items players pick up through the course of the game – thankfully, they are plentiful.
While the changes mix Lunar Knights up in a good way, the core mechanics of the game stay the same. Each area has a denizen of baddies to hack and shoot through and as the kills tally up, so does a character’s experience. By leveling up, the game will throw stat points your way to distribute in areas that raise the attack, life and magical levels of that character. All of this culminates in a very satisfying dungeon crawling romp that plays very reminiscent of what Castlevania would play like in an isometric view.