It is currently in an "Early Access" state and costs $14.99 via Steam. Developer Keen Games is a well established German company but with most of their games resulting in mixed and negative reviews on Steam, will this game be their redemption?
gameplayPortal Knights is one of the most unique games I have ever played, and I don't say that lightly; what looks like a cheesy Minecraft clone when you first start it up proves to be so much more. Imagine this; a Legend of Zelda with Terraria type monsters and a landscape similar to Minecraft. Not only does it combine the elements of these games efficiently, but it adds its own unique twist; instead of having an absolutely huge world to explore, you explore different "Levels". Essentially, you get every material you want from each level, and then you build a portal to the next level; each level features different monsters and materials, making each level unique.
Exploring in this game is really something else; the caves you explore are typically very, very dark and certain enemies can appear from the ground and start attacking you! You can also find chests underground and a ton of ores, making it a necessity to journey off into the darkness. More often than not, enemies have caught me off-guard but it feels incredibly rewarding killing them.
When you first start playing, you can pick between three classes; Warrior, Mage and Ranger. In a nutshell, the warrior uses short range weapons, mage uses magic and the ranger uses bows and such. The gameplay for each class differs a bit considering the player is limited to weapons relevant to which class they use and many of the upgrades (covered later) are different as well.
Your main objective in the game is to go from level to level collecting every useful ore and completing every quest in-between. It is absolutely vital that you take the time out to search for useful ores and caverns, otherwise you're going to find yourself being in a very sticky situation once you teleport to the next level. Essentially, you're going to be crafting weapons very often in order to keep up with the monsters and survive through the game. Depending on what class you pick, the weapons are going to vary, but this sense of progression is a reoccurring theme in this title. Once you get to the final level of the game, you win, but be assured this is no easy task.
The combat system in this game is fairly well done for an early access title. You have the option to switch between both third-person and first-person and the combat just feels well-crafted no matter which style you decide to play in. Each encounter with a monster feels rewarding as I find myself nearly dead if I don't dodge their attacks correctly. Luckily for me, death isn't too much of a toll on the overall gameplay as immediately after you die, it sends you back to the location in which you spawned.
Building in this game is almost identical to Minecraft; you mine blocks, place them wherever you please and the limit to what you build is up to you and your imagination.
Despite the game having very similar attributes to Minecraft and other building games, the developers have found a way to surpass its rivals with a very well-made feature; the leveling system. Sure, Minecraft has a leveling system that is used to enchant weapons and such, but this game takes a completely different approach; upgrades. Essentially, you level up from battling monsters and when you rank up, you get to pick an attribute you'd like to level up. After leveling up enough, your stats such as health and strength will quickly rise and you will learn new abilities for your character.
ControlsThe controls are surprisingly smooth for a game this early in development. The game has controls that are simple to learn and easy to use for any type of gamer. Considering it has both a first-person and a third-person view available, this title can certainly appeal to anyone who is a fan of this building/adventure genre.
As for most PC games, the default moving keys are binded to WASD. Furthermore, you can press "E" at anytime to access your inventory and craft. Unfortunately, you are unable to rebind the keys in this build of the game.
CraftingWhat kind of building game doesn't have the ability to craft? If there is anything this game was aiming for, it was most definitely simplicity; crafting feels so much easier than its building game counterparts as (for the most part) it tells you what you can and cannot craft, what resources you'll need to use and so on, making it a seamless process to go into the menu, pick your item of choice and continue playing. In my personal opinion, this is one of the few games that got the crafting recipe right.
There are a variety of things the player may craft; this depends on what the player's class is, but for the most part, it's going to be weapons and other necessities such as pickaxes to mine, axes and much, much more. Additionally, for each level, you're going to need to craft eight Blue Portal Stones to successfully build a portal to the next level; the Portal Stones are very easy to get, but make sure you've gathered all the materials in the level before you leave!
GraphicsThe graphics are a definite upgrade from the other building games; on high settings, the scenery is beautiful to look at and really adds to the atmosphere of the game and even on low settings, the graphics are still perfectly acceptable for today's gaming generation.
The user interface is also fairly well done, keeping it simple to find your characters, change options and quit the game. Once you get in-game, this value really does not change; the player's inventory is extremely simple to access, the inventory is very nice looking and everything is essentially right where you need it.
SoundsThe sounds for this game are exactly what you'd expect from an adventure game, but the soundtrack is where this game really shines. Whenever you dive into a cave, or explore somewhere new, the soundtrack always changes, making it a good option to keep the music volume on.
It's definitely clear that the developers spent a lot of time on ensuring the game not only looked great, but sounded amazing too. The sound effects used whenever you hit an enemy sound almost realistic and even something as simple as footsteps sounds solid in this title. As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack is also really well-designed, adapting to the way you play and what encounters you come across in your playthrough. Everything about the sound in this game will make you more than motivated to turn off your music in exchange to listen to the game's beautiful noises.
BugsDespite the fact that this game is very well made, it is still far from being a finished product. During my playthrough, I experienced a number of minor bugs that got in the way of me enjoying the game. For example, every time I started up the game, the game's screen would be slightly skewed to the left, meaning I had to go into options, display options and change the resolution every time I wanted to play; as you can imagine this was a little bit tedious considering I had started the game a lot.
Other than that, I experienced a lot of minor bugs between all this; sometimes the monsters would be running in place, enemies would disappear, etc.
ConclusionDespite the bugs, this game is still worth the $14.99 it costs on Steam. It is completely unique to the adventure genre, offers a whole new experience and is a really fun game to play with friends. As mentioned earlier, the game is an early access, meaning it is not very far in development, but I definitely have high hopes for this title; the graphics are great, gameplay is addicting and the soundtrack is very dynamic and pleasant to listen to.
If you're a fan of Minecraft, Terraria or Legend of Zelda, this is the game for you. The developers really care about the game by giving it updates very frequently and this game could easily go very far. If you and your friends are bored of these older games and want to try a new, refined experience, this is the game for you.