For The King is a game that blends multiple elements from various genres into a nice little formula that makes you crave for just one more turn. It features turn-based combat and movement and it puts you in charge of a party of up to three characters as you go around the land completing a series of random quests in a procedurally generated world.
Genre: Adventure, RPG, Strategy
Developer: IronOak Games
Publisher: IronOak Games
Release Date: 28 Feb, 2017
The game has been successfully funded on Kickstarter reaching more than triple its initial goal and, as a direct consequence to that, the scope of the game has increased. Prior to its release in Steam’s Early Access in late February, the game had already been available to some of the backers via a closed beta, which certainly allowed to implement some suggestions and take feedback into account, thus resulting in a smoother Steam launch. With that said, the developers have stated that the intention is to remain in Early Access for a few months, but the concrete amount of time will largely depend on player’s feedback.
The game takes place in the Kingdom of Fahrul in the aftermath of King Bronner’s death, a time where chaos is corrupting the land and where monsters and bandits are roaming loosely throughout the kingdom. In order to bring peace back to Fahrul and find her husband’s murderer, Queen Rosomon summons anyone who’s willing to help. This is where the tale of your three heroes begins. As you play the game the rest of the story will be told via text dialogue between different characters whenever you reach specific points in a quest. In any case, the game also has a nice encyclopedia which, despite not providing that much of a background to the game world, features many topics regarding on how the game plays in case you want to have a deeper understanding of the various mechanics.
The game currently offers a single player mode as well as online and local co-op, in which each player will control one of the three party members. To accompany that, you can also choose between one of three difficulty settings which change the way the game can pan out in a rather significant way. When creating your party you have eight different classes that you can choose from, but still, they’re not all unlocked at first but each of them has their own unique set of abilities, stats and starting equipment. One thing that did bother me when I was creating my party for the very first time was the fact that, while the game clearly shows you the stats symbols and their designated value, as well as the name of their abilities, for new players it’s hard to determine what these truly mean, at least at first glance. It would be nice to have a small pop up window showcasing some more in-depth information regarding what these things really are if you moved the mouse cursor over them. If customization is your thing you’ll also be glad to know that the game also has a decent amount of it, you can name your characters and customize their clothes, skin and hair colour, and equipment will also change the way their models look.
One of the main aspects of the game is the fact that pretty much every action in the game will succeed, or not, depending on your character’s stats along with a rather strong randomness factor. Every time you perform an action the success rate of that action will depend on a specific stat, like strength or awareness, but you can increase your chance to succeed by spending focus points. These points are limited and in order to replenish them you’ll either have to set up camp, visit a town or consume a herb. Speaking of which, each party member has their own unique inventory which they use to carry things around, such as consumables, equipment and their own gold. This is relevant to take note because of the way combat works in the world map, which will be explained next.
You’ll spend a fair good amount of your time in-game in the world map, which is made out of hexes, where you move from one place to another in turns, with each one of your party members acting independently in their own turn. Since the game map features various islands, you’ll also find yourself forced to buy a boat, which handles pretty much the same way as a single character on land. With that in mind, once one of your characters encounters an enemy, you’ll be able to choose whether to engage, flee or ambush. If you choose to attack the enemy one way or another, other party members within a specific hex range will automatically be moved into the fight. Combat is played in a turn-based form, much like many others party-based combat RPG’s, and there’s a timeline which shows when it’s your and your enemies turn to play. Depending on your character’s class and equipment, the abilities at your disposal will vary, but besides dealing damage, they can also stun, taunt or bleed enemies, amongst many others. All of the actions during combat also rely on a success percentage, so that has the potential to both lead to frustrating moments as well as relieving ones. One thing that I must mention is that, when you hit an enemy in combat, especially when you kill them, it feels extremely satisfying thanks to the visual and audio feedback that the game provides, it has this really crunchy feeling to it.
Combat is not the only thing that will retain your attention when exploring the map, you’ll often come across random events which you can pass on or try your luck to see if you can get anything out of it. Do you want to search an abandoned village or a swampy area? The game gives you some freedom in regards to those because, since you can see them on the map grid, you can easily avoid them by going around them. Other than that you can also visit towns, where you can rest, heal up, trade goods and take on quests, as well as dungeons which, once inside, will put you against a series of consecutive fights. The game doesn’t have dozens of different types of enemies but it has a decently sized pool to keep things interesting, fresh and challenging at the same time.
There is however one prevalent characteristic of the game that seems to drive some people off, and that’s the time limit imposed by chaos, which forces you to keep an eye out for the amount of rounds that you have left in order to complete a specific objective. I imagine this puts some people off because you have to make compromises, you can’t really complete every side-quest nor explore everything, and people who like to take their time don’t see this with a keen eye. Still, chaos is not really the end of the game, once the chaos meter fills up you’ll just have to face with the consequences of your actions and your journey will become much more difficult than it already is by normal standards.
In technical terms the game does leave quite a bit to be desired while playing outside combat. I think it’s safe to say, without anyone arguing, that the game looks really good, not only in terms of actual graphical fidelity but also in terms of aesthetics. The issue that comes with this is that the game doesn’t really run quite well, at least on my system. With an i5 4460 and a GTX 970 I haven’t been able to hit 60 frames per second on the low graphical preset, or the highest preset for that matter. With that said, the game is perfectly playable, even more so considering that it’s turn-based and that the gameplay isn’t action heavy, but I do feel like the performance does hurt the experience a little bit.
There’s also some sort of persistent progression in the game, in the form of unlockables. As you play the game you’ll gain Lore by completing objectives, which you can then use to unlock more character classes, items that will then start to appear in your adventures, new encounters and locations. In regards to the actual variety of locations, the game does an excellent job in differentiating one from another and the low poly visuals mixed with the lighting effects look really great. In the same sense, everything is well animated and, despite me feeling that the game isn’t aiming for it to look that way, I find the characters, especially the ___ animations to look rather cute.
Overall, even though this is still in Early Access, there’s no way I couldn’t possibly recommend For The King, as long as you don’t have any problem with some of the randomness it has going on or the time limited quests. The combination of gorgeous visuals and an astounding soundtrack that sets you just in the right mood to play the game really create a rather unique atmosphere. Add to the aforementioned the elements of what make a turn-based RPG addicting, fun and rewarding and you have a great game like this one. I’m sure any fan of turn-based RPG’s or roguelites would have a blast playing this, or even just fans of turn-based games in general. If you like what you’ve read or seen about it, chances are you’ll enjoy the game, because it’s right what it shows on the tin can.