Shovel Knight

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
Shovel Knight Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Vintage-style adventure digs up the right dose of nostalgia.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 12 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The hero, known only as Shovel Knight, is on a noble quest to save the love of his life at all costs. The stereotypical story line doesn't offer much of a compelling message, but there are standard themes involving the good guy overcoming all odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shovel Knight is the quintessential hero, taking on a horde of enemies to save the kidnapped girl and restore peace to his land.

Ease of Play

As in most side-scrolling games, controls are simple, but the game will take a lot of effort to master. Players need to solve puzzles on the fly, employ perfect timing, and not take a wrong step. The game feels more challenging and aggravation-inducing than classic titles in the genre, so players should brace themselves for starting levels over repeatedly until they master the necessary coordination for each round. The game is built to be difficult, but most players with enough patience should be able to overcome its challenges.


This retro-style game involves a lot of jumping on and bouncing off enemies. For the most part, foes simply disappear when defeated. There also are a handful of drawn-out "boss" battles in which players will need to attack larger creatures repeatedly to progress in the game. But overall the art style is simplistic and the game lacks gratuitous violence.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shovel Knight is a downloadable game designed to look and feel like a video game from the early 1990s, an era in which gameplay quality and fun were more important than stellar, highly realistic graphics. As in those older games, this title involves an endless cycle of smacking, jumping on, and bouncing off enemy characters. Players wield a sword as they travel through enemy-filled environments, but the simplistic art style makes it very difficult for parents to take issue with this content.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysupercookieclub! June 25, 2015


Shovel Knight wields a shovel. He's called SHOVEL KNIGHT. NOT SWORD KNIGHT! Your review isn't educated. Anyone with COMMON SENSE would realize SHOVE... Continue reading
Adult Written byEggNoggShake October 21, 2018

It's by far one of the greatest games I've ever played

This game is gold, and while it lacks a compelling story, only giving us the basic "damsel in distress" filler, the game play is what makes this title... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byTheAlmightyCastform March 17, 2018

Tricky platformer with great physics, upgrades, checkpoints, long levels, multiple campaigns.

The title "Shovel Knight" is now an artifact of a title, since there are now several storylines which aren't about Shovel Knight. Anyway, this is... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 12, 2017

What's it about?

SHOVEL KNIGHT's story revolves around a hero who must defeat all kinds of enemies to save the girl of his dreams. It's perfectly fine that the story is so predictable, because that's what the game is designed to be. Players will dash through a seemingly endless array of dungeons, mazes, and claustrophobic rooms in which they're trapped with large fantastical creatures. They'll be focused on pressing buttons at the right time, trying not to fall onto a floating block of flames or down a bottomless chasm. The game doesn't take itself too seriously and is in many ways a parody of different franchises from the golden age of cartridge-based video game consoles.

Is it any good?

Shovel Knight will easily strike a nostalgic chord with any gamer who remembers the days before high-definition graphics, surround sound, and cinematic story lines. Younger players may not relate to the dated visuals, but the fun factor, gameplay, and sense of accomplishment after beating a difficult level are timeless qualities for everyone.

What's unique about this game is that it uses several classic gameplay styles. It's not only a 2-D adventure game, run-from-point-A-to-point-B side-scrolling action game, or a mind-bending puzzle-solving game. Instead, it has elements of all these genres wrapped into a nice, cohesive package. Players of any age should be able to appreciate what it has to offer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Shovel Knight's retro style. In this day of high-definition graphics, virtual reality, and motion-based gameplay, why is a game such as this still so appealing?

  • When you fail to complete a level, do you get upset and frustrated, or do you strive to do better next time?

  • If you were a video game hero, whom or what would you risk your life to protect at all costs?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love platformers

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate