King Arthur: Knight’s Tale takes you back to the famous Camelot, although not in the way you might imagine. This is a much darker version of the story you may have heard as a child and I’m all for it. The gameplay features an exciting mix between a classic RPG and a squad-driven turn-based strategy.
The game is still in early access and I experienced quite a few hiccups that should be resolved in the coming months. There is also a mountain of content still to be added which is detailed further in this article. What’s most important right now, is that while this project may have been birthed on Kickstarter, this is merely the start of Neocore Games’ grand adventure.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is currently available in early access on Steam.
STORYLINE – A FAIRYTALE FOR GROWNUPS
The opening cinematic tells the story of Sir Modred, a once-trusted member of the Round Table who turned nemesis to King Arthur. The two face off in a brutal fight that tragically ends both lives. However, the Lady of the Lake has her own plans and somehow brings both back to life to continue the journey they left unfinished.
Unexpectedly, you do not take the role of Arthur but rather Mordred. You are taken back to Camelot but the king is nowhere to be found and the kingdom is yours for the taking. After completing your missions you are presented with ultimatums that will affect your character progression and determine how your story unfolds.
GAMEPLAY – PLAN, MOVE, EXECUTE
The game features some elements of action RPG’s but this is just a way of getting you from one fight to the next. There are some loot spots to find and the odd shrine or resting spot that will help your warriors but the game really only starts once you find an enemy and draw your swords. The battles are turn-based which I was both excited and cautious about. I’ve played many turn-based games like this and in my experience, they’re more miss than hit. I’m happy to report that King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is one of the few hits that I’ve encountered in my travels.
As you can expect from a fantasy role-playing game, there are various unit classes, each with its own traits and abilities. You will have to uncover each unit’s strengths and weaknesses in order to utilize them fully in battle and ensure they don’t die during a fight. Each mission consists of several battles and your units don’t heal or revive between conflicts, this can only be done once a mission has been completed and you certainly don’t want to take on the last fight of a mission with only half your party.
Some battles have several points of entry and allow you to choose which side you’ll attack from. This is a great feature although it’s somewhat difficult to use it effectively as the camera is focused on Sir Mordred when you’re not in battle so it’s difficult to see the battlefield and make a strategic plan of action. The actual combat works incredibly well though, things move fluently and the various skills you have at your disposal open various strategic doors. Just be careful with some of your grand attacks as area-of-effect damage will hurt your own people too.
Each unit works with a set number of Action Points (AP) which can be split among movement and actions. If you have enough AP left, you can set your hero to Overwatch mode, something X-COM players will be familiar with. In this mode, your heroes guard their current position and will attack an enemy when they enter his or her field of view. If your hero is out of valuable moves, you can also choose to save the remaining AP and roll them over to the next round.
When the mission is finally done, you enter the final phase of the game which is managing your party and kingdom. First, you can upgrade the Camelot Castle by adding things like an inn which functions like a weapons shop, or hospice where your heroes can rest their weary heads to recover from battle. Other improvements include a cathedral, training ground, burial grounds, enchanted tower, and the Round Table, each with additional improvements.
Once you’re done decorating, turn your attention to your crew to distribute the valuable loot and improve their skills. Each unit type has its own unique skill tree that allows you to unlock additional skills and attacks while also letting you improve on existing ones. As your heroes level up, you’ll unlock higher tiers that provide even more customization. Sadly, the unit levels are capped in this build so I was only able to play with the most basic items in their skill trees.
BUGS – ALL IS NOT WELL IN CAMELOT
Early access builds usually come with their fair share of problems, but it’s been a while since I’ve had so much standing in my way of enjoyment. Some bugs were easily overlooked like actions not registering the first time you click them, loot chests not opening, or being kicked to the main menu when I lost a mission. However, there were several game-breaking bugs that ultimately prevented me from enjoying everything this game has to offer so far.
During my first campaign run through, a key character died during my first mission. This took me to the mission select screen with no option to progress as missions can’t be replayed and the second mission can only be unlocked by completing the first. I once had the game crash while loading a new mission which also corrupted my save file, forcing me to restart the campaign again. During my final attempt, my entire party died during the final battle in one of the missions. When I went back to the mission select screen, I again had no option for advancing as I had no available heroes to attempt the next mission but also no way to revive my fallen comrades.
Finally, I have to mention the insanely long loading times which were not that bad in comparison but were annoying enough to be mentioned.
DESIGN – TALL, DARK, AND HANDSOME
Considering King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s humble beginnings as a Kickstarter project, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of graphical glitz. Man, oh man, was I blown away. The early-access build only features one cinematic but it is Blizzard-level beautiful. The in-game graphics are equally spectacular with the character models particularly standing out even though the terrain can be somewhat generic.
On the audio side, things are looking great so far. The eerie soundtrack sets the scene masterfully and the writing and voice acting might not be the best I’ve encountered, but it’s not far off.
It’s not perfect though as I found some irksome issues with the game design. The map doesn’t rotate with the camera which is can be very disorienting, especially since the camera rotates every time there’s a cutscene. I also found exploring the maps very clunky with constant screen jitters and inconsistent responses to my orders.
Overall, I am excited by what I’m seeing here. There is still a massive grind ahead to get everything done but this is a promising start.
BEYOND EARLY ACCESS – WHAT LIES AHEAD
According to the developer notes we received, the final game will feature an enormous amount of content. Below is a snippet of what you might expect once King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is complete.
- Full story campaign with 20 story missions with multiple endings and various side missions (estimated walkthrough time: 20-25 hours)
- More than 50 points of interests
- More than 30 heroes from 6 different classes
- Diverse terrains from castle dungeons to the forests of the Sídhe
- Thousands of items
- 7 enemy factions with more than 50 types of enemy units
- 10 boss fights
- PvP mode
Our Steam review key was provided by Dead Good PR.