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Video game ‘Good Knight’ sends you to Philippine myths-inspired hell

How far would you go to reclaim what you've lost? Would you descend into the depths of hell to fight a giant tikbalang? How about dozens of creepy tiyanak?

Because that’s exactly what you will do in “Good Knight,” an upcoming video game inspired by Philippine and Asian mythology, among a host of other things.


“Good Knight” is being developed by Team Good Knight, which is composed of Alex Valdez (game director, designer, programmer), Zaid Al-Shaheed (game artist, designer), Jeff Molina (art assistant), and Ramon “LEAF XCEED” Nario (composer).

The team is currently prioritizing “Good Knight’s” PC build, but versions for mobile devices and consoles like the Nintendo Switch are also planned. A Kickstarter campaign will be used to fund further development.

One-tap bullet hell

“Good Knight” is a unique fusion of Philippine mythology and history, Asian mythology, Victorian and Gothic horror, and steampunk. Genre-wise, it’s a wild combination of bullet hell, shoot ‘em up, arcade, and even puzzle. It has single-player and coop modes, the latter being good for up to four people.

You assume the role of a Spanish knight. In the process of fighting hordes of monsters eager to prevent you from achieving your goal, you’ll be dodging hundreds of fireballs and other types of magic missiles. It’s as challenging as it sounds.

“Good Knight” has a simple and unique control scheme. You evade “bullets” by tapping a single button, which makes you change direction. You aim your weapon with the analog stick.

These uncomplicated controls allow people who are new to bullet hell-type games to have an easier time performing “veteran strategies such as streaming (strafing around the bullets), cutting the stream (going back), and prioritizing evasion,” said Valdez.

“[‘Good Knight’] is a gateway game for people who don’t get that genre,” he added.


The game’s one-button design “was inspired by an old prototype I made within 30 minutes,” said Valdez.

The gameplay itself was influenced by old-school games. “We’re fans of retro games, so it’s natural to get inspiration from them,” Valdez said, adding he’s an ardent enthusiast of 8-bit Nintendo games from the ‘80s.

Al-Shaheed loves how classic arcade games give people challenges revolving around “trial and error as well as reflexes.” From such games, he believes players can achieve “the joy that comes from dominating the game after learning all the secrets and patterns, and building the muscle memory to achieve a goal.”

Valdez specifically named the following games for inspiring “Good Knight’s” gameplay: 1987’s “Contra,” the “Touhou Project” series of games, and the more recent “Super Hexagon.”

GMA first discovered “Good Knight” at ESGS 2018’s Indie Fiesta. Since then, Team Good Knight has greatly polished the gameplay and added new features. According to Valdez, they cranked “everything up to 11.”

Beautiful damnation

“[D]uring our public testing in ESGS 2018 Indie Fiesta, the press and people actually pointed out how impressed they were to see Filipino mythology and Tagalog in [‘Good Knight’],” said Valdez. “Due to this, we thought of focusing on that in the game.”

“Good Knight” now has a giant tikbalang boss, as well as other creatures from Philippine and even Japanese and Malaysian mythology.


The conflict between Spanish conquistadors and the people of pre-colonial Philippines also influenced the game’s visual design and story. According to Al-Shaheed, they took the idea of Spain’s soldiers looking like “metal men” and pushed it to extreme levels to give “Good Knight” its steampunk aesthetic.

In addition, “The visual inspiration [for ‘Good Knight’] was a mix of our childhood games” such as “ ‘Castlevania,’ ‘Splatter House,’ and ‘Knightmare’ for the MSX,” said Al-Shaheed.

“Good Knight” also has an abstract nature, which Team Good Knight said was inspired by two popular notions about dying: seeing your life flash before your eyes, and a tunnel leading to the afterlife. As such, vital narrative components in the game will feel like jumping back and forth between your experiences before and after your descent to hell.

After the decision to make “Good Knight” available on PC and consoles, Team Good Knight started using Triple A techniques to make it prettier. Most recently, Valdez implemented an effect to make it resemble an oil painting.


“The visuals, previously, were dictated by time and limited hardware, so we approached creating the assets in a very speedy, time-efficient way,” said Al-Shaheed. “But now that we have a bit more time, we upgraded the look, added more details…”

Back in 2018, “Good Knight” had a more cartoony appearance. Now, the game’s graphics strike “the balance between stylized and realistic,” said Al-Shaheed. “We went with the realistic yet stylized painted look to put heavy emphasis on the fantasy aspect of the game: colorful yet grim.”

Team Good Knight is proud for achieving the dark, creepy, yet visually appealing aesthetic it has always wanted for “Good Knight.”

“‘Beautiful hell’: those were the key words from the start,” said Valdez.

“More Triple A than indie”

On August 11, at an event Valdez started called Baguio Open Geek House, attendees were invited to try the present build of “Good Knight.”

“Most of the feedback was positive,” said Al-Shaheed. “Players loved the challenge.” They also found it interesting how “Good Knight” tested your reflexes and muscle memory, and balanced such aspects with puzzle elements.


According to a player named Mike Inel, the game’s current build is “so polished. It’s more Triple A than indie.”

“Don’t let the simple mechanic fool you,” said a competitive “Tekken” player named Pen. “This game is deep.”

Team Good Knight is happy with the players’ reactions. “I’m really impressed that people enjoyed it,” said Valdez. “It really excited a lot of people.”

Team Good Knight is also thankful for the attention “Good Knight” has been getting. “I know it’s a bit cheesy but players and the press are actually a huge part of our inspiration,” said Valdez. “Our players have a huge influence on how we develop our games.” — LA, GMA News

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