King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – A Riveting Dark Fantasy RPG. In this King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – A Riveting Dark Fantasy RPG, we’re going to take a deep dive into the highly anticipated turn-based RPG inspired by the Knights of the Round Table, which takes a dark turn quite quickly. Rather than working with King Arthur, these knights have banded together to do everything in their power to destroy him at the behest of Sir Mordred, the main character.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale features familiar RPG mechanics, including the infamous Morality System, strategies involved in traditional tactical games, and rebuilding Camelot from the ground up. The question then becomes, is this RPG worth playing on the first day of release on April 26, 2022? We will answer this question and more!
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is developed and published by NeocoreGames, the same developers of Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor – Martyr as well as The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing several years ago. This game will be initially available on PC via Steam but it will also be released on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X, hopefully within the same year.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – A Riveting Dark Fantasy RPG
- Genre: Tactical Turn-based RPG
- Developed by: Neocore Games
- Published by: Neocore Games
- Release date: April 26th, 2022
- Platforms: PC via Steam (Code Provided by Neocore Games)
- Price at the time of review: 44.99 USD
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Story and Setting
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is set in the realm of Avalon where you play Sir Mordred, the once evil nemesis of King Arthur. In a fierce battle against King Arthur, you have managed to critically wound him but he immediately retaliated, sending you to your death as well. If only things were as simple as they seem, however, fate plays a cruel and dark trick sometimes because you both mysteriously continue to live on. With this comes the madness and nightmare unleashed in Avalon.
The Lady of the Lake decided to bring you, Sir Mordred, back to life to finish what you have been destined to do all along – to kill King Arthur once and for all. Doing so will also save what’s left of Avalon. Will you change Sir Mordred for the better? Or will you turn him into the true tyrant that he is?
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a spectacular retelling of the Arthurian Legend with dark fantasy elements and characters from the Round Table that you will recognize. These include Sir Lancelot, Sir Yvain, Sir Kay, and Sir Galahad, to name a few. Throughout your journey, you will be accompanied by these knights (and ladies) depending on who you recruit and your beliefs or Morality.
What’s interesting about this Morality System is you have different avenues to switch sides if you so choose. In total, there are 2 beliefs that you can adhere to such as Rightful and Tyrant as well as 2 religions to choose from like Old-Faith or Christianity. Deciding the path that Sir Mordred and his Heroes will take is based on the choices you make in Missions and Events.
For instance, you will have to choose between two brothers after a certain Mission in the first few hours of the game. Recruiting one brother over the other will set you on a course to a Rightful or Tyrannical path. Another example is finding a wandering merchant rude simply because he has chosen to offer only 1 item for sale. If you decide to steal the item rather than pay him, you will gradually mold Mordred into a Tyrant.
Choices have consequences that will test the loyalty of your party. The more loyal they are to you, the better they perform in Combat. But if you choose a different path, which is contrary or even blasphemous to what they believe, they will leave the Round Table to defy you. Staying Neutral throughout the game is tough too because you are encouraged to leave your comfort zone to gain a lot of perks along the way.
In the Morality Chart, whichever path you decide will lead you to unlock a variety of perks including gaining access to new Heroes, Camelot upgrades, Decrees, Laws, and Global Effects. So if you intend to stand up for the greater good, then you can inherit bonuses that fall under the Rightful – Christian Morality System. Examples include improving the Vitality healing of the Hospice, recruiting Sir Leodegrance, and even reducing the Building Resource cost of upgrading Camelot.
This is what makes King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s overall story compelling because it’s not only centered around the narrative but also takes into account the entire party’s involvement and active participation depending on the choices you make. Moreover, you get to know the backstories and motivations of every Hero together with the Traits that make them unique.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Gameplay Mechanics and Combat
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale follows a somewhat different formula from the classic tactical Turn-based RPGs in that you won’t be spending more than an hour creating your version of Sir Mordred. Instead, you will be catapulted straight into the action after the intro cinematic to give you a taste of what to expect. As you progress in the game, you will unlock Main and Side Missions together with Events that will affect your Morality Chart.
Completing Missions will reward you with XP to level up the party, Equipment, recruitable Heroes, and Gold and Building Resources, which will be used to rebuild and upgrade Camelot or your home base. Afterward, you will find yourself on Avalon’s overworld map to choose the Missions you wish to do and to manage your Heroes and Camelot as you see fit.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Heroes, Skills, and Stats
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale features more than 30 Heroes whom you will form alliances with or become your worst enemies. What makes these Heroes unique is that even if they are divided into 6 Classes, they have Skills, which differentiate them from the rest. For example, the two Champions whom you will meet in the first few hours of the game are Sir Kay and Sir Balan.
Sir Kay has the ability to damage multiple adjacent enemies in one fell swoop thanks to Cleave whereas Sir Balan can instantly boost his Armour because of Defensive Stance, making him relatively tankier. As such, there are multiple Builds that you can experiment with to optimize your party. You will also find that Heroes from the same Class feature some similar Skills as well. In Sir Kay and Sir Balan’s case, they can improve their Weapon Damage while enhancing their respective Bleeding status effect.
In every Mission, you will only be able to bring 4 Heroes at most. Whoever goes with you will be the ones to gain experience. You can then allocate points to the Skills you intend to focus on every time you level up. Now every Hero features a specific moral compass, Traits, and a Loyalty Meter. Morality affects their Loyalty. Some Heroes remain Neutral, which means that you can only increase or decrease their fondness of you depending on the choices you make in Events.
The last qualities available to these Heroes are Vitality, Hit Points, and Armour. Vitality should not be confused with Hit Points since it’s the actual lifeblood of a character. Unlike Hit Points and Armour, you don’t automatically restore this Stat, you will instead have to leave your Hero in the Hospice. Moreover, taking Vitality damage can also lead to serious injuries that will need to be tended to in the Cathedral.
Next are Hit Points, which will be depleted before Vitality. This is basically the second layer of defense. And then you have Armour that protects you from taking Hit Point damage. Not every Class has Armour such as the Marksman and Arcanist, making it crucial for them to stay far away from the enemies.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Classes
There are 6 Classes to manage, namely the Defender, Champion, Marksman, Arcanist, Sage, and Vanguard. The Defender is a very effective tank that can withstand huge amounts of damage thanks to their resilient Armour but the damage they deal isn’t as potent and their movement speed is average to low. Meanwhile, the Champion’s Weapon Damage is massive and some of the Heroes under this category can attack adjacent enemies in one go.
The Marksman is an archer who maintains a huge distance between them and the enemy. They excel in inflicting status effects from afar and they have the capability to move quickly. The Arcanist is similar to the Marksman in that they are mages who cast ranged Spells to slow down enemies and knock them back from a distance. On the other hand, the Sage is the melee equivalent of the Arcanist who can buff their allies. Lastly, there’s the rogue-like Vanguard who hides in the shadows to set traps against unsuspecting targets.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Equipment and Loot
Looting corpses and chests and acquiring random pieces of Equipment and Consumables lying around in Missions are what you ought to do to be able to upgrade the quality of gear of your Heroes. So you have Weapons, Armour, Potions, and Trinkets in the form of Accessories and Artifacts. All of these have a rarity distinction, which means that the higher the rarity, the better the quality. Starting with White, Green, Blue, and Yellow to differentiate Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Yellow Equipment, respectively, quite similar to the color schemes of Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Lost Ark.
Doing most if not all Missions will make the rest of your gear redundant in the early game since you can ramp them up pretty quickly. But these are usually sold to the Merchant in Camelot to earn Gold. It’s also important to remember that some Equipment is Class-specific. For instance, anyone in the party can wear Isolde’s Necklace to heal their allies but not everyone can wield the Piercing Rune of Power because this is only available to the Defender, Vanguard, and Sage Heroes.
What’s essential to do is to equip all of the upgraded gear and potions you have gathered because you won’t be able to do so the moment you enter a Mission. This is one of the reasons why King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is challenging because every step and decision you make will determine who among the Round Table will survive or die.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Combat and Difficulty
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s combat centers around a grid-based system similar to the ones we see in XCOM and Disciples: Liberation. What happens is your party will almost always start first unless you are ambushed. You can switch between Heroes during your turn if it’s more strategic to do so. There is an Action Points (AP) System per character like in Expeditions: Rome that you have to manage since you only have a limited number in every round.
These AP are also used to activate Skills. Now some Skills require a higher amount, and in this case, you will have the option to ‘Reserve’ the remaining AP for your next turn. Alternatively, you can cast ‘Overwatch’. This lets you defend your surroundings such that when an enemy steps within those bounds, they will be automatically hit by your character.
Optimal formation and positioning are key factors to succeed in every encounter. When there are red icons on the ground, you are allowed to prepare for battle. Here, you can strategically place your Heroes on specific tiles. For example, Sir Mordred, Sir Kay, and Sir Balan should be placed at the forefront of combat because they deal melee damage whereas Sir Ector ought to stay behind them since he doesn’t have Armour and he casts ranged Spells.
There will also be walls and structures to crouch behind to shield yourself from ranged attacks. You can even have Sir Mordred stand in front of Heroes with depleted Armour to receive the brunt of the damage since he will most likely survive anyway.
What makes combat truly special and challenging is that when you start a Mission, you have to see it through to the end, meaning, you can’t simply leave if you see your Heroes heavily injured. Every Mission has main and side objectives, and of course, completing the latter will reward you with more random loot but at the expense of your Heroes. It will be up to you to decide if the risk is worth it. Can you stomach succeeding Missions without your precious knights as they rest in the Hospice or Cathedral? If injured and weak Heroes continue plowing forward, they will permanently die and will then be buried in the Crypt, much like in Darkest Dungeon.
The consolation, however, is that there are campfires or rest points in these Missions. They will either restore a portion of your Hit Points or Armour but not Vitality. You will also come across Shrines to grant random positive or negative effects such as providing Swiftness to one of your Heroes. But what I do find strange is the absence of combat logs to explicitly show the actions you and your enemies have taken as is common in tactical RPGs. This makes the encounters harder because you are left to your own devices to compute and make strategic decisions manually.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale features 2 game modes – Classic and Roguelite. The Classic Mode allows you to save and load freely while the Roguelite Mode ups the stakes because you won’t be able to manually save your progress. In terms of difficulty under the Classic Mode, you can choose between Story, Normal, Hard, or Very Hard. If you want to have a much more challenging experience, then go for the Hard Mode, which will limit the amount of HP and Armour restored in campfires, or Very Hard Mode to fight highly intelligent and merciless enemies.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review Impressions – Camelot Management
After every Mission, you will be rewarded with Gold and Building Resources and return to the overworld map where you can access Camelot. A huge part of improving the capabilities and performances of your Heroes in King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is upgrading the structures here. Each building, except for the Crypt, must have a designated leader to reduce the cost of using its various services.
For example, you can have Sir Mordred oversee The Round Table to decrease the amount of Gold you shell out to unlock Decrees or gain access to additional Hero slots. Heavily investing in rebuilding Camelot and exploring its respective Buildings will help ease the game’s many challenges.
Audio, Visual, and Design
When it comes to King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s audio, you can expect to hear melancholic and deplorable tones in the music but I hope there is more variety in the playlist because it starts to sound repetitive the longer you play the game. The same could not be said about the voice acting and sound effects, which are delightful to listen to. So much emphasis is placed on every Hero and it adds to their character and bravado or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the sound effects of clinking Weapons, bludgeoning enemies to the ground, and shooting arrows improve your combat experience.
Visually speaking, I do wish that the game’s design and color usage are more vibrant and bold to further highlight its dark fantasy elements. Going in this direction would have accentuated the dark theme to support the tone of the story and to emphasize how grim the tale truly is. But this is all a matter of preference and the current washed-out style is not bothersome. I am impressed, however, with how much detail has been added to the UI from the Early Access version of the game, making it more intuitive.
From a technical standpoint, I encountered 1 major crash at the very start of the game in the tutorial but no other bugs besides this one. There are also some framerate dips, which will hopefully be resolved on the game’s first day.
Replayability and Pricepoint
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale can take about 60 hours to complete depending on the Side Missions you do and the difficulty modes you choose. This is only a single playthrough since you can do multiple ones to alter your Morality Chart and recruit different Heroes as a result. After the campaign, you will gain access to endgame content to engage new and powerful enemies with other challenges, thereby boosting your playtime accordingly. Multiplayer is also available in an optional PvP custom mode, which will let you create a party of 4 with friends.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is priced at USD 44.99, which is a good pricepoint given the game’s length and how well-integrated the RPG systems are. It also doesn’t feature any microtransactions to aid your progress.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is one of the best tactical turn-based RPGs I’ve played in awhile largely because of the highly nuanced and cohesive mechanics that always seem to make sense. It never fails to keep you on your toes because of how tough combat and progression can become, but even the difficulty itself doesn’t feel unfair since your choices ultimately affect what happens to the Heroes you recruit and manage. Right from the start, combat is exhilarating and fun and this pace doesn’t dwindle. Quite the opposite in fact, as you unlock more Skills and enhance the party’s gear, things only become more interesting.
In addition to the excellent combat, the game also has compelling and interesting characters, some of whom you won’t be able to recruit due to differences in beliefs, a lot of build options, and a base to manage and customize as you see fit. It really does combine some of my favorite elements from other RPGs into one fantastic Arthurian tale.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out Pathfinder: WotR Through the Ashes DLC Overview Impressions and Elder Scrolls Online High Isle: Hands-On Preview & Impressions.