With the voxel-based game craze that started with Minecraft, it takes a lot to create another of the same type while managing to stand out. Portal Knight aims to differentiate itself by not only having impressive graphics but also adding adventure RPG gameplay. However, is this enough to allow the game to stand on its own? This is our Portal Knights review for the Nintendo Switch.
Portal Knight is light on story, with just enough to explain why the world exists. The world was torn apart by “The Fracture”, causing it to shatter and turn into numerous islands. Ancient portals exist to bridge these islands together, but have been long dormant waiting for a hero to reactivate them. This is where the player comes in, being a brave enough portal knight to adventure through the islands and reactivate the portals you come across. Passing from island to island, your goal is to gather materials to craft and upgrade your armor and weapons, gain experience points to level up your hero and reactivate the gateway to the next island.
The player starts off on a small island that attempts to teach you the basics, but feels as though it falls a bit short. Multiple points of interest are marked for you to find, with each teaching you an aspect of play: be it exploring, crafting, or gathering. These are straightforward, but the crafting list quickly bloats with new items you can find, while little indication is made as to how to find materials you require for further tools and upgrades. Normally this could be handled with a bit of exploration, but as each island can be a completely new biome with different materials, this may leave you wandering around to find pockets of materials you need.
Each island that you come across in Portal Knights truly does feel exciting, and offer much for the player to explore and find. On top of the different biomes and materials that can be spawned, buildings, villages, and dungeons can randomly spawn, as well as NPCs. These can range from being completely empty, to having treasure chests or NPC shops and quests inside of them for the player to complete. A multitude of items can be picked up from all over, meaning that you will want to pick a homeworld quickly just to have somewhere to keep your things. While shops will let you sell items you have picked up for gold, you may want your things in the future for crafting. You can fast travel both to a previously unlocked world, and the spawn point of your current world, ensuring that you cannot dig yourself into a deep hole and get stuck. Building objects change textures to make walls seem complete and avoid the individual square look, while still retaining the voxel-based selections by showing an outline of what the player is currently targeting.
Portal Knights have some light RPG elements, allowing you to increase your stats and select specializations. You can pick from one of three classes: Warrior, Ranger or Mage. Each of these focuses on different stats from one another, but stat points can be assigned as you wish on each level up. Stat points are earned on each level, while specializations are earned at specified levels. Specializations add perks to your character and can be changed as desired. The player can also craft different skills, adding more combat abilities to your character at the cost of mana. The combat system itself is like that of Ocarina of Time and many other of its kind, in that the player locks onto an enemy to attack while also being able to dodge around said enemy. Fights will not always be a single monster, and the ability to attack without locking on exists, but many times rushing down monsters individually is the best plan of action. Weapons and armor are also craftable, with different pieces adding different stat changes or perks to your character. Vanity armor can also be set so that you can focus on improving your stats while also keeping the look that you enjoy.
If you are a fan of Minecraft and are looking for something fresh with an RPG feel, Portal Knights will definitely be a game that you should pick up. It combines the traditional gathering and creating formula with multiple, randomly-generated islands to explore packed with dungeons, monsters, and towns. While those who are looking for a creative mode won’t find that here, those who are looking for a more combat-focused building game will enjoy what Portal Knights has to offer.
Note: Our Nintendo Switch copy of Portal Knights was provided by PR