Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

Let’s say thanks to the staff of the NeocoreGames studio – they, unlike most of their colleagues, do not keep you waiting long. In October, the developers went to Kickstarter with their new project King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, and at the end of January, the novelty became available in Steam Early Access. The release date, however, was nevertheless postponed – however, only once and only for two weeks.

If Kirill Voloshin limited himself to a conversation with the developers in his preview, then I was more fortunate: I played an early build of Knight’s Tale and I hasten to share my impressions.

Kings killer

Before us is the continuation of the dulogy King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame. The same world, the same heroes, but now the genre is different – instead of a wargame, this is a role-playing game with tactical turn-based battles. The plot of the first two parts was built on an original mixture of real history, legends and fantasy assumptions. Quite ordinary England turned out to be inhabited by magical creatures, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, either existing or invented by the authors of ancient legends, lived according to somewhat different plot moves. Everything ended, however, familiarly – in the final battle between Arthur and his illegitimate son Mordred, luck turned its back on both: the king pierced the opponent with a spear, but he managed to respond, inflicting a mortal wound on Arthur.

If the epic about Arthur, familiar to us, ended here, then the plot of Knight’s Tale only begins from this moment. Despite the name of the game, the main character this time is Mordred. He is brought back to life by the Lady of the Lake, who became aware of the sad fate of Arthur: if the “official” legends tell about the king waiting for awakening in his chambers on the island of Avalon, then in the game world Mordred’s father has turned into something frightening and dangerous for all living things.

Mordred will have to repeat his “feat” – this time, perhaps without quotes. In the light of new circumstances, even a bastard, traitor and villain raised from the dead looks like a good alternative to the former ruler of England.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale game preview

The set of characteristics of the heroes is not impressive, unlike the pumping system – it promises a lot of interesting things.

The plot looks, to put it mildly, gloomy. The visual style of the game also matches it: dark undertones, the almost complete absence of sunlight and the gothic design of locations immediately make it clear that we have a sample of the so-called dark fantasy. The campaign starts in the tomb, but then, when open-air levels appear, the style changes little. The only bright color here will be red, because there is a lot of blood in the game.

Opponents do not lag behind: in addition to the usual bandits (an impossibly harsh appearance), I met the revived dead, skeletons and giant slugs – of course, all of a characteristic gloomy appearance. The full version promises up to fifty types of enemies, divided into seven different factions.

Everything will be but not immediately

The word “promise” had to be remembered much more often than we would like. I got a really early build: according to the caption in the main menu, this is just version 0.0.2. The strategic regime is presented very modestly: the barely planned rebuilding of the patrimony of Mordred – Camelot; a world view table that allows you to receive bonuses depending on the decisions made by the player; yes pumping heroes. There are very unpleasant technical gaps: for example, you can’t specify a specific set of heroes to complete the task, and there are no saves at all – if you lose, replay the tutorial. King Arthur: Knight's Tale game preview

Wounded fighters had to be taken away. The dead will not have a second chance – there is no magical resurrection after the victory.

With turn-based battles taking place during missions, things are much better. They look quite holistic, except that the current version simply lacks content. It is clear that there will be more heroes, skills, opponents, buffs and debuffs, but now the tactical mode allows you to understand exactly how the developers are positioning the game.

Each mission is a separate map, the movement of which takes place in real time. Tasks are formally different, but they boil down to clearing locations from enemies. As long as the enemy does not appear within sight, you can safely explore the surroundings, looking for chests with supplies or fires to regenerate the health and armor of the entire squad. But sooner or later you will have to fight.

Finally not XCOM

Special thanks to the developers from me personally for the fact that they did not follow the path of the now fashionable two-phase system, which, with the filing of Firaxis Games, has become almost the standard for turn-based tactics. Instead, we have good old action points with us, which can be spent both on movement and on the use of skills. These skills are unique for each class, there are quite a lot of them, which should give the combat system depth. King Arthur: Knight's Tale game preview

The armor indicator is no less important than the number of hit points.

There are also small-looking, but important nuances (like choosing the direction of attack), thanks to which it becomes possible to build interesting builds of characters and their bundles. Ability modifiers that add action points or life points for each killed, beloved by everyone Overwatch, area attacks, poisons, arson, lifesteal, backstab – not a complete list of what I managed to notice. If the prospects for a strategic regime are still vague, then it is hardly worth worrying about tactical diversity.

The fact that the full version will have complex fights can be seen even in those five hours, which is enough to fully study the assembly of the game. It is clear that the combat balance will have time to redo it several times, but even now it is easy to fight only during the first skirmishes. The archer inadvertently stepped forward and missed a couple of hits? Prepare for the fact that the chances of her survival in the next battle will decrease dramatically. Have you begun to build a compact formation that does not allow you to get close? You will be outflanked. On the contrary, they ran headlong into the attack in several directions at once? They will shoot from afar or surround each hero separately. Of course, the enemies take more in quantity, but you can’t call them whipping boys either – you have to sweat to win.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale game preview

There is no chance of winning – an archer, and even alone, will not be able to oppose anything to such a detachment of enemies.

However, the successful completion of the mission without loss does not always guarantee the further comfortable existence of the detachment. Do not forget to check the health of your heroes and send them to the hospital for treatment – going into battle with broken limbs will not be the best idea.

Now the fragility of the characters is especially critical: there is no one to replace those who dropped out for health reasons, and it is almost impossible to achieve success in a mission started alone or alone. If there is no one to cover the wounded and ranged fighters, then the squad dies very quickly.

In the full version, six classes of heroes are expected, and in the early build there were only four. The difference between them is noticeable, but how deep it is is not yet clear – the maximum level of pumping is limited, so it’s too early to draw conclusions.

It is better to attack enemies who can hit several cells at once from afar or one by one.

***

I’ll take the liberty of making these very conclusions about the game as a whole. She has a very good potential, but the creators will have enough work for the year ahead. They position their project as a role-playing game with turn-based battles, but in its current form, only tactical battles and external design look finished. Everything else is at the level of stubs. I hope that this, as well as technical problems, will be fixed as soon as possible: so far, other promised features are missing, such as a full rebuilding of the castle and character relationships.

There is no desire to play the existing piece of the campaign again and again, but it’s definitely worth making a notch for memory – Knight’s Tale has every chance of becoming an excellent game for fans of turn-based tactics and dark fantasy stories.

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