All Hail

HIGH That first patch.

LOW With friends like these…

WTF I need to pollute the seas to save me from a kraken?

Kickstarter projects have a bad time of it lately — it seems like people only notice them when there’s a high-profile failure. As such, it’s a nice change to write about developers like IronOak who’ve used Kickstarter to create lovely games like For the King.

FtK is boardgame/RPG hybrid built for up to three players. In the default mode, the king has been killed and it’s up to the protagonists to make their way across a hex-based map to figure out who the culprit is. This involves going on quests and side missions that provide loot and experience while engaging in traditional, turn-based combat.

The art style is a simplified 3D look where textures are clean and the hard edges of a model’s polygons are deliberately made to stand out. It gives a back-to-basics style while also imbuing a lot of personality. In addition to the attractive art, FtK leans on its boardgame inspirations to add spice to the gameplay.

Each member of the player’s three-person party can go off on their own and explore different parts of the procedurally-generated map. When a character goes into an encounter, they can pull others into the battle with them depending on how close they are and how wide the character’s circle of influence is. Characters level up independently, and gear is assigned to different members depending on whether they want to share after each battle.

Exploring more of the map is important but spreading a team too thin can lead to defeat and death. Like in most board games, a team wipe means game over and start again. However, beating dungeons and special bosses provides a currency which can be used for permanent unlocks, new scenarios scattered around the map, new weapons and character classes.

Other elements spicing up play include monsters roaming the maps, certain events available only at specific times, and things called “chaos” and “scourge” moments. Chaos causes everything to become more difficult, while scourges come in the form of mini-bosses that affect the map, increase costs at villages and towns, or obscure previously-explored areas of the map.

For the King is at its best when there are three people playing (locally or online) and arguing over who gets the new gear, or who gets a bonus buff for their character. The customization is deep enough that each person has enough to look at when it comes to min/maxing their play style, and as the difficulty slowly escalates, they will need to take different approaches to different dungeons and bosses. The procedurally-generated manner of the game means that taking on the same map doesn’t feel repetitive, and the Xbox version comes with a slew of different maps and challenges.

I’m grateful that singleplayer exists since it’s hard enough to get two friends together, let alone getting two to commit to a long campaign. However, For the King is a game best enjoyed with others. I finished it solo, but the lack of other players made the experience less enriching. With this in mind, For the King is a jolly questing experience, both as a local and online boardgame experience.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by IronOak Games and published by Curve Digital. It is currently available on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox. This copy of the game was obtained via Game Pass and reviewed on the XBO-X. Approximately 15 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed10 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence, Blood. The game is kind of gory, with arrows sticking out of cartoon corpses, but everything feels so comical that it’s hard to worry about the impact on kids. I would consider this to be fine for all ages.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There’s a lot of information onscreen, but part of the appeal is parsing this all out. The info is presented visually, and the game is playable without sound. Text is not adjustable. I’d say this one is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

AJ Small
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