The Problem with ‘For the King’: I can’t put it down

FOR THE KING REVIEW

Have you ever found yourself sitting back, relaxing with a nice cold drink in your hand when you suddenly realize that what you need in life is a strategy meets rogue-like meets JRPG video game? No? Me either. But the developers over at IronOak Games apparently had just that revelation and the result is deceptively difficult and addicting title ‘For The King’. This is our For the King review.

Before I get into further details about the gameplay itself I want to take a moment to commend the art direction of the game.  The development team was aiming for a style that paid homage to the first generation of 3D RPGs and I am inclined to say that they very much accomplished that goal.  The stylized hex-based graphics are delightfully clean while being both simple and detailed.  To me they serve the important purpose of making a difficult game feel light-hearted and fun – which isn’t always an easy balance to create.

‘For The King’ sells itself as a fusion of strategy, rogue-like elements and classic turn-based JRPG action to deliver a rewarding and approachable experience for new and old players alike.   At it’s core the game is easy to understand but difficult to master even on it’s easiest settings.  Lets take a closer look at the cogs turning behind the scenes.

For The King’s title may lead you to believe you are a merry band of questers sent about on the lands by your friendly benevolent patriarch but I have bad news for you: he’s dead, the unknown murderer is at large and the kingdom of Fahrul is beset by chaos.  The king’s widowed queen, desperate and with no ideas left, has put out a desperate plea to the citizen of the land to take the reins and “stem the tide of impending doom”.  Armed with this knowledge you will be able to choose a party of three adventurers with various classes such as a tanky blacksmith, a ranger, a minstrel, a scholar and more.  You will be thrown into a procedurally generated land and begin your playthrough of the storyline.

Initially you were be presented with a map of tiles that you will move your characters about in a turn based faction, discovering random secrets on tiles, or battling enemies that occupy the hex-tile you are aiming to occupy.  Battles are carried out in a traditional JRPG fashion: your characters on one side, the enemies on another, and will rotate through turns with each avatar present.  One unique mechanic, in this regard, is that skills aren’t set in stone with your class but are slot based.  This means the weapon you wield will determine your abilities during combat but keep in mind your affinity to stats like strength or intelligence will dictate the weapons that work best for you.  While your blacksmith will start with a sword and the two abilities associated with it, you may find wielding a torch for the rather overpowered burning effect is preferable for your playthrough.  Your scholar may pick up a weapon that allows him to heal the party during combat – something he can’t do right out of the gate.  The weapon choices matter and in some cases in may even be important to change them out before combat begins.

Speaking of playthroughs you can expect to do more than one because, unless you’re a freak of nature, you are not finishing the story line on your first go.  Or your second.  And probably not your third.  I did mention this was the easiest difficulty too, right?  While the thought of not being able to progress in a game may initially be a turn off for some, the procedural generation of the world you spawn into keeps things fresh enough as you strive to get further and further into the storyline.  Simply put, the game is not easy but each time you get better, make it further, and feel an odd sense of accomplishment even when you die before the end. (As of this writing I still haven’t finished the storyline).

As I wrap this up I want to say: don’t let my skimming the surface for review purposes lead you to believe For The King is a superficial experience.  While you can play with a surface level understanding of the mechanics and system and have an enjoyable time, there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to mastering the game and a satisfying feeling of accomplishment when you do.  After all, over one-thousand ‘Very Positive’ reviews on an Early Access Steam game is quite the accomplishment these days.

If you aren’t a fan of rogue-likes or your not a fan of turn-based combat I still urge you to give For the King a shot.  I avidly loath just about every turn-based game I’ve ever played (yes, even Civ games – go ahead and hate), and found For The King a refreshing gaming experience that tickled the nostalgia of playing Dungeons and Dragons back in the day.  You can pick it up on Steam for $19.99 while in Early Access.

Final For the King Review Score: 8/10

Pros:
– Delightful Art Direction
– Perfect blend of different mechanics
– Difficulty provides good sense of accomplishment

Cons:
– May be too difficult for some
– Early Access may be a turn off for some

Written by
Robert is a full-time Respiratory Therapist with the U.S. Army but that doesn't stop him from doing what he truly loves: playing and reviewing games and staying up to date on the latest and greatest PC hardware. He also streams part time on Twitch when he works nights (www.twitch.tv/waffleflopper) and writes for MMORPG.com.

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