(sharon) #1
Classes include Blacksmiths, Buskers, Woodcutters and Trappers – though they broadly translate to typical RPG archetypes

For The King


LONG LIVE THE KI... OH, HE’S DEAD ROBIN VALENTINE


PUBLISHER CURVE DIGITAL / DEVELOPER IRON OAK GAMES / RELEASE DATE OUT NOW / COST £19.99/$24.99


of your character’s special abilities
several layers deep in the help
section. This collection of dense lists
must be consulted constantly if you’re
to have any hope of understanding
what your equipment does, what’s
happening in combat, and more.
But it’s complexity for complexity’s
sake. Fights, particularly, are poorly
explained but actually very simple
in play, often boiling down to just
repeating the same handful of attacks
and keeping an eye on your health.
There’s little depth to be found,
leading most battles to feel like they
were essentially decided before they
even began, with your remaining
supplies, equipped gear and current
health having more impact than your
turn-by-turn choices.
It’s symptomatic of a game that
wants to be difficult and punishing,
but has little grasp on how to make
that fun. The game isn’t hard because
fights offer a tricky tactical challenge


  • as in the likes of XCOM or Divinity:
    Original Sin. It’s hard because of all
    the random nonsense thrown in your
    way on your journey to that fight, from


This turn-based
RPG is certainly
upfront with its
intentions – before
you even reach
the title screen, it
pops up a warning that you’ve got a
punishing journey ahead, with failure
just part of the experience. But it’s the
game’s preoccupation with difficulty
that undermines its best aspects,
making what could have been a lovely
adventure oddly dispiriting.
For The King sees you picking three
adventurers for your party and setting
out across a procedurally-generated
fantasy land. Your quest is thinly
sketched – the story amounts to little
more than a few text boxes pointing
you in the direction of an evil wizard –
but suffice to say it involves scrapping
with monsters, seeking out treasure
and exploring dungeons.
The hex-based map has a nostalgic
hint of tabletop RPGs gone by about
it, and despite the relatively generic
setting, the game’s invested with
a surprising amount of personality
by its low-poly artwork. Heroes and
monsters look like chunky little
puppets in motion, and there’s a
pleasing impact to their blows in
combat, with defeated combatants
ragdolling to the ground.


Royal pain
It makes for a charming first
impression, but your initial few hours
with the game are likely to be spent
digging through menus more than
appreciating the sights. For The King
is dreadful at explaining itself, to the
point of burying things like the effects


unavoidable random events that steal
your XP, to brutal shortages of vital
healing items, to mechanics you’re
never fully made to understand.
And if you die you have to start the
whole thing over. Permadeath has
its place, but it’s a poor fit for For
The King’s time-consuming outings


  • especially when you lose hours of
    progress to something that feels out
    of your control.
    It’s a game that feels smothered by
    its urge to ape the rock-hard roguelike
    trend. In its best moments, when
    you’re able to look past those layers,
    there’s an endearing RPG hidden
    underneath. When the randomness
    comes up in your favour and For The
    King stops poking you with sharp
    sticks long enough to let you just
    enjoy an old-fashioned dungeon
    delve, it’s a surprising treat. And
    then a man pops out from nowhere
    and steals your favourite item, and
    suddenly you feel more like snapping
    your pad than rolling a D20. Q


short
cut

WHAT IS IT?
An RPG adventure
across a procedurally
generated world, with
turn-based combat
and permadeath.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
An odd mix of charm
and viciousness that
muddies its simple
joys with layers of
unnecessary
complexity.
WHO’S IT FOR?
RPG fans with either
bucketloads of
patience, or a
masochistic streak.

“Permadeath


has its place, but


it’s a poor fit for


For The King”


OXM VERDICT
A turn-based,
roguelike RPG
that’s looking for
difficulty in all the
wrong places.

6


LEFT Action
takes place on
the world map,
but zooms in for
fights and
dungeons.

More Xbox news at gamesradar.com/oxm THE OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE 085

REVIEW