NeocoreGames Studio is no stranger to creating roleplaying games (RPGs) as well as games based on 12th-century myths (i.e. King Arthur and Camelot). For action-RPGs with hack ‘n slash, they’ve done very well with their The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing series. After a quick look on the web, it’s easy to site at least eight titles by the Hungarian studio with the name “King Arthur” in it. The first being King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame. It’s been eight years since the studio’s last King Arthur endeavor in King Arthur II: Dead Legions back in 2012. So it comes as no surprise that the studio is ready to unleash more Arthurian goodness on the world. Welcome to our early access preview of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale on Steam PC!
Some History And A Confession
I have to be honest. My interest in this game was actually piqued by another media outlet, that being PC Gamer magazine. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale actually graces the March 2021 cover of the magazine where that media outlet has described it as “XCom-Like Strategy In A Corrupted World”. With praise like that, how could it not garner my attention?
This project actually began its public journey via Kickstarter back in October of 2020 and was fully funded within a little over three weeks. Now, no more than two and a half months since being funded, it’s being unleashed as an early access entry on Steam. That’s actually live today. Yes, it seems early, and the depth of the preview reflects that. But based on what we’ve seen in the preview’s meager two to three hours of play we have to say we’re encouraged for the full game and its potential!
What’s In The Chest?
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a tactical-RPG hybrid. Think similar to a Dragon’s Age game, in terms of primary gameplay, but set in an Arthurian age.
Story-wise the game is an interesting tale, albeit a bit limiting in the primary character choice. You play as the male character Sir Mordred, the nemesis of King Arthur. The opening cinematics shows you killing King Arthur, but with his dying breath, he strikes you down as well. The net effect? You both die but at the same time, you both live, in some other realm it would seem. The Lady of the Lake, the ruler of the mystical island of Avalon raises you from ultimate death to do her bidding to end a nightmare. She wants you to go on a knight’s quest by finishing killing King Arthur or whatever he’s become since being taken to Avalon.
The Quest Is In The Details
So how does Mordred accomplish this quest of quests? King Arthur: Knight’s Tale plays out as a traditional top-down, isometric RPG while in free form mode. You click to move, can find hidden paths, find treasure chests, take on quests, etc. Your goal is to rebuild a form of the Knights Of The Round Table in order to aid you in succeeding in the ultimate goal to kill Arthur. So in this fashion, it’s a party-based RPG that changes to turn-based action when entering a battle, very similar to a Baldur’s Gate.
A Moral Dilemma
On the surface, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale seems to have a lot of familiar components but it’s the sum of all those parts that makes the game interesting. One of the cool features is a morality system. Morality is based on choices throughout the game and is tracked via an X-axis and Y-axis type quadrant pie chart system. You can choose to go hardcore Tyrant, hardcore Rightful, or a mix of both for example. Each of the quadrants and axes leads to different passives, powers, even different party characters, e.g. unlocking Morgan le Fay.
Of course, a lot of the expected RPG gameplay features are here. This includes some exceptional voiceovers, NPC dialogue choices, inventory and gear management per party member, and skill points for each member of your party. It’s expected that the full version of the game will have more than thirty different heroes with six classes to choose from. There is also a slight rogue-like component here as well since any heroes that die in battle are lost forever.
Thy Kingdom My King
Another nice addition to this RPG and its setting is a building management component. Eventually, you’ll get to an adventure map. From there you can build and upgrade buildings in Camelot. You can add new buildings to unlock various upgrades and passives. Each building offers different ways to heal up and empower the heroes of your Round Table.
There are not many complaints other than the preview being relatively short. And we did not encounter any stability issues. The only one in question is after the tutorial campaign and getting to the adventure map overview. Going into an adventure would close the client and corrupt the save file. “Corrupt” means, we restarted the game and we’d be in the mission with a black screen. The only way to proceed was to start the campaign over. And then we reproduced the same issue again. We suspect, and hope, that this was just an unexpected way of signaling that we’ve done all they have right now. Otherwise, hopefully, this is a patch fix coming today.
Graphical speaking it’s not the prettiest we’ve seen but not shabby either. Just some of the character model faces look a little stiff and mouth movements in dialogue closeups have a puppeteer effect. Perhaps these are things that will be tuned up on the way to release.
The only unknown factor we can’t comment on is the price for this two-hour early access preview and whether that price is worth the glimpse. Based on what’s here and what we’ve been able to play we like the foundation are looking forward to more, especially in a full release. Let’s hope NeocoreGames embraces user feedback and builds on the foundation of the castle they’ve started to build here! At this point, NeocoreGames shows signs of having something here that could very likely be as engaging to play as many of the RPG greats! Stay tuned!