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Bahnsen Knights Review

There’s pulp in my fiction

The thing I love the most about Bahnsen Knights is that it’s emotionally driven despite being unapologetically violent. As an interactive fiction, its short run time affords it plenty of opportunities to throw main character Boulder through hell and back every time you make a wrong decision (and believe me you’ll make plenty of wrong decisions), yet the underlying message is one of hope despite adversity. It’s a hellscape that awaits, but it’s one with vivid quality.

Undercover for many months, Boulder is adamant all it will take is one solid piece of evidence to take down the Bahnsen Knights, a cult religious group led by the sadistic Toni that live by their own rules in a small rural town. Boulder believes Toni is to blame for the death of fellow agent Cupra, though since taking over his friends role he’s found little evidence to incriminate the group. With time running out, Boulder must take it upon himself to do something drastic and uncover the truth once and for all before his mind, never mind his body, breaks.

Driven by the need to see his family again, you’ll have some choices to make to ensure Boulder finds his way home in one piece and not a body bag. Some will be simple, but many may trap you into thinking you’ve done the right thing, only for Boulder to meet a grisly end. It happens so fast that you’ll be right back to where you were prior, ensuring your next attempt is more successful, but there’s no doubt the violent nature surrounding Boulder’s various ends can play a big part on your own psyche, let alone that of our troubled protagonist.

Well? Do you?

The 80s inspired visuals help to drive the savage storytelling, harsh yet beautiful to this old-timer’s eyes all the same. A limited colour pallet doesn’t take away from some impressive detail, red skies looming large over Ford Sierras, bloodied bodies and some manic facial expressions. For a game that could have been produced during the heyday of 8-bit titles, Bahnsen Knights stands out illustratively.

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The remaining package is a mixed bag of ideas that still manages to come together. A handful of mini-games break up standard scenarios of correctly piecing together the correct response to a situation, be it Spy Hunter driving through cobbled streets or manically searching through rooms with a timer hanging over your head. Some variations to the gameplay are less effective, picking a lock is less about skill and more blind luck for instance, but as the narrative progresses there’s space for some tinkering with the formula that doesn’t take away from Boulder’s harrowing scenario.

Interactive fictions thrive on their story, and in that Bahnsen Knights is a success. You feel for every situation Boulder finds himself in, strained by the thought of never seeing his wife and child again or the choice between saving someone’s life or watching them perish. Characters aren’t meant to be liked, this is a place of vile thoughts after all. As Toni suggests, hell is above not below, and Bahnsen Knights explores those themes intensely.

Hell radio is just Highway To Hell on repeat

Final Thoughts

Though short, Bahnsen Knights plays with its world effectively, pulling you into Boulder’s seemingly impossible scenario through harsh imagery and well written words, visually stunning despite its simplicity. It doesn’t quite hit the landing with some of its mini-games and its violence may be a turnoff for some, but at a small entry fee it’s a visual novel worth exploring.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Bahnsen Knights Review
Knights Into Dreams
A harsh yet engaging narrative drives Bahnsen Knights down the streets of hell, flanked by vivid violence and stomach-churning scenarios. It’s short, but it packs a punch all the same.
The Good
Visually impressive
Strong story beats
Plenty of 80's inspired style
The Bad
Some mini games can be awkward
Violent nature can be uncomfortable to follow
8.5
Get Around It
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  • LCB Game Studio
  • Chorus Worldwide Games
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / Switch
  • January 18, 2024

Bahnsen Knights Review
Knights Into Dreams
A harsh yet engaging narrative drives Bahnsen Knights down the streets of hell, flanked by vivid violence and stomach-churning scenarios. It’s short, but it packs a punch all the same.
The Good
Visually impressive
Strong story beats
Plenty of 80’s inspired style
The Bad
Some mini games can be awkward
Violent nature can be uncomfortable to follow
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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