Portal Knights is a 3D sandbox action-RPG that aims to bring a unique experience to creation type games. Developed by Keen Games and published by 505 Games. This game aims to bring multiplayer survival style combat to a fun create-your-own-world style game, and does a very good job at it.
My first impressions of this game were good. Although the controls and the game itself proved to be quite complicated to pick up at first, after getting to grips with the schemes the game was surprisingly fun and addictive. Fighting enemies was actually challenging, and finding the correct resources to build what I needed to build wasn’t as easy as first thought either.
The character creation was limited and yet still seemed to have enough options to please everyone, and the class system made the game a bit more fun as the extra choices such as class change how people play the game, this allowed for online characters to act against each other and compliment each other.
The game isn’t particularly story driven, it does has a simple story that the world was broken apart by an event called “The Fracture”. The players objective is to build portals in each area to connect the world back together again. That’s near enough as far as the story goes, although certain smaller elements can be found throughout the words of NPCs in missions and events.
Gameplay and Progression
The gameplay is certainly not a walk in the park at first, even with the helpful tutorials given to the player the crafting system and battle system proved complicated to understand. Right off the bat, players can be defeated by even the smallest of enemies. There isn’t a difficulty spike throughout the game, as it is difficult from the very beginning. The more you progress, the harder the game gets so the world and all its dangers level with your character; a trait that was common in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
The crafting in Portal Knights can be compared to a more complicated version of Minecraft. The way you collect materials and items are the same. You knock down your surroundings or take out enemies to collect new materials, however crafting a lot of the things you need require a workbench. In some worlds these already exist, however in most worlds you’ll have to create one yourself. The items required to make most of the equipment and tools at a workbench however are extremely complicated. The amount of items throughout the game are extensive and for the most part seem unnecessary. If this game was targeted at kids I can see them having a hard time understanding the uses of all the different types of crafting and equipment within this game.
Unlike the crafting, the progression is surprisingly simple. You level up, and then at certain levels such as level 5 or 10, you’ll unlock the chance to progress. The abilities you unlock are simple, and you get to choose out of a small amount of them. I feel if the rest of the game had adapted the simplicity the levelling up had then it’d be an overall easier game. Perhaps even if the game had some sort of progressive crafting system, so that the player wasn’t so overwhelmed at the very beginning, it would make the player feel like they were having a little more fun.
Graphics and Environment
The graphics and 3D art style in this game are absolutely beautiful. Despite a lot of the enemies and environments having similar styles and looks, the small changes they all have make them feel unique to their environments. The animations are smooth and the game overall runs smoothly. The actual size of the environments feel quite small considering the levels contain plenty of enemies. Even so the surroundings are filled with a lot of different items and materials that have all been designed extremely well to make them easily recognisable in your inventory and in game. The UI is designed well and in an easy to understand way for the most part.
Soundtrack and Audio
The soundtrack and audio for this game are extremely basic, and while the soundtrack does offer the fantasy world vibe that is expected in this type of game, it fails to add anything more. The audio is very repetitive for NPCs and enemies, and the different worlds start to feel more and more average the more you play through the game due to the sheer lack of exciting music or sounds to accompany your travel through the portals.
Portal Knights is extremely hit and miss with a lot of its aspects. The gameplay itself is very exciting and addictive, but this is usually found after a long and tedious trail and error with the crafting and world exploration. The graphics are the highlight of this game and really look wonderful, but the lack of an equally creative soundtrack means the game balances out to seem pretty average.
I’d certainly recommend people playing this game for the experience, but I feel it’s a game that only a small percentage of gamers will enjoy. As for the mass market there are already many combat style games, and equally a lot of creative style games that pull the genres off a lot better.
You can watch the official trailer for the game below:
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(All images taken by myself and info taken from the Portal Knights website)
- Engaging combat
- Story and missions to incentivise progression
- Full freedom to build
- Environments can be too busy
- Menu system confusing