King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a turn-based tactical RPG by NeocoreGames. Think medieval nuXcom, with all that that includes, like boardgame rules, cover mechanics, and so on. This to the background of the legendary tale of King Arthur, but with a twist. While this sounds good on paper, and to a part it really is, as I see it, the game has some clear issues – hence the “half of a review”. I will explain.
Let’s start with the story. You play as Sir Mordred, King Arthur’s nemesis, and with your simultaneous death/killing of King Arthur in the Battle of Camlann you are transported to Avalon – the mysterious realm of the dead. The resurrection of King Arthur in Avalon goes wrong, and it turns him evil, which has you called upon by The Lady of the Lake to slay this abomination King Arthur has turned into.
As known, Sir Mordred wasn’t the kindest man, going by the legend, and this takes an effect in the game, which has you making moralistic decisions of good or evil. Will your Sir Mordred redeem himself, or remain in his evil ways?
That’s basically the story – you are thrown into Avalon to rebuild the knights of the round table, with the mission of defeating the evil undead King Arthur. It’s an interesting take on this famous tale and starting out as a bad guy has its charm. Never before have I felt so tempted to be evil in a game since it’s actually the outset of the character you play. Whatever you choose to do, what paths to take, it all has an effect on the game – which characters will follow you, and what kind of perks you will unlock.
One problem here, though, and this consists throughout the game, is that seemingly (so far) all these choices only get reflected in different stats and perks. The story doesn’t seem to change, and there isn’t much roleplaying to gain from these decisions, which to me is disappointing. And this is the whole game, in a nutshell, everything is stat or perk-based, and there is nothing wrong with that per se, it’s just that the roleplaying aspect seems to be missing.
After a while, it starts to feel very mechanical, and that’s the reason why this is “half of a review”. I just couldn’t be bothered anymore, at least not for now. Your base, Camelot, acts as your “Xcom” HQ, here you train, and heal your knights. You equip your men here too, and sell stuff. Doing missions gain your gold, and building points, which lets you improve your base. The mechanics are fine, and the narrative is okay, even if I at points didn’t feel it was that engaging, but the issue is, as said, that after a few missions it starts to feel very samey. To even have a chance to do the main missions, you have to do all the side-quests, which come to you in a linear fashion, and 99% of these missions are only combat – using the same mastered tactics each time (Why change something that works?).
There is absolutely zero roleplaying when on these maps, except for a few dialogue choices that many times lead to the same outcome. It gets really boring, and it becomes slog-like, wandering from combat arena to combat arena, for a little loot with no significance to the story, or lore. It’s almost like a Diablo clone but in turn-based mode.
The combat otherwise is fine, even if I don’t really enjoy the board game rules or limitations that much. For example, there is no inventory management on the field and a max two limit potion per person. So, it doesn’t matter if one dude has leftover potions, there is no way to give them to the guy that needs them. While I accept the rules as they are, it’s not my favorite kind. I’m more of a simulation type of player. The game uses Action Points for movement, and skill usage, very basic stuff and armor decrease incoming damage, but also take damage – so, on heavier armored units there is some planning involved to get to that juicy HP damage. If you have played the nuXcom games, you know what to expect, but here in a medieval format.
While the game starts out good, it becomes repetitive fairly quickly. I wouldn’t say that the game is bad, though – what it does, like combat and looting, it does well, the narrative is there, but don’t expect too many roleplaying consequences up to chapter 2, at least. It might change later, but for some reason I doubt it. What the game also has going for it, is the graphics, except for a few issues. It looks good in general, and it has a certain gloomy feeling of doom to it. It looks like a somewhat dreamy surrealistic nightmare at times, and that is highly atmospheric. What I didn’t like about the graphics is that it looks very blurry. It’s like someone smeared Vaseline over the screen, especially when you zoom in.
Music and sound are fine, even if I find that the music is repeated a bit much. The voice acting is also mostly good, the main characters sound great, but some lesser characters felt a bit out of place like they didn’t suit the English theme. It’s minor, though.
Do I recommend the game? Well, that is hard to say, since I haven’t actually finished it myself. That should be an indication… I would say that it isn’t worth the full price, at least to me, especially if you go into this game with the mind that it will be an RPG. It’s pure TB combat, with Diablo-esque loot, so, if that is something you are looking for, you can’t go wrong.
Here I am, coming back to the review after putting in another 10 hours or so, even managing to get plenty further in the chapters, and what can I say? It remains the same, but it does feel like the encounters get more and more massive. It becomes tedious, and the story still doesn’t justify the slog. You have to pick a path and stick to it, otherwise, you will miss a lot of different bonuses, and characters to meet. When you get that choice in the beginning, you better make an educated guess of what to pick right there and then.
What caused me to stop playing now was that I hit a wall in chapter 3 in the form of massively increased difficulty. Suddenly I was facing creatures that had no problem tearing through my armor like it was made of paper, and as a bonus – at ranged! Too much suffering, for little gain, so here we are. Still not completed, but as it is, my impression hasn’t changed.
Thanks for reading.