Saturday, 03 March 2018 17:10

REVIEW: Portal Knights (Nintendo Switch)

Written by StacefaceMayhem
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Sandbox games can be addictive. As much as it pains me to say this, but Minecraft set the bar for any sort of game with crafting elements with open worlds to explore.

“Portal Knights” by Keen Games is an adventure game in the same league but with a lot of RPG features, but does it all seems all too familiar? This particular sandbox game was released all the way back in Feb 2016 on Steam Early Access and gained a cult following of dedicated fans quite quickly. When this happens to games in early access it is something noteworthy. Will this be a game that will rise above its role model’s success?

Portal Knights is a unique combination of exploring different realms and deciding whether you want to build along the way or not. Your planet has been torn apart in the baffling time called “The Fracture” meaning the world as you know has been broken apart. Choosing from one of three classes; mage, warrior or archer, you must travel the planet via mystical portals, collect resources and upgrade yourself to be better equipped to beat the monsters that lurk within each diverse environment. As you slowly restore each of these portals, you now have gateways to be able to come and go as you please to each zone, and their exclusive resources.

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The game comes in an online, offline and local play mode. Online, well I never got a chance to play as on the Nintendo Switch, I could never find a game. I find with the Switch being such an expensive handheld, not a lot of people have one, thus limiting my options when it comes to online play. Even in my own friendship group, I also find it hard to use local play for the same reason, the audience for the Nintendo Switch in Australia, is somewhat lacking, well in my opinion. Anyway, back to the game and offline play mode, was where it was at.

Gameplay was surprisingly simple, traversing the menu at the beginning was not. You are given basic weapons, clothing and resources. What really makes this game stand out from others similar is its character building, as opposed to ramming the construction element in your face. Building a workbench is really the only necessary build in this game if you want to go more down the RPG trail. Each workbench lets you upgrade your resources, using different materials collected from certain worlds. Combat controls were as equally as simple but still quite tactical. Each boss and even monster type have their own set of attacks and patterns that need to be judged before tackling with your weapons, which actually surprisingly has a disintegration rate you need to watch.

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The menu is a bit overcrowded and does take time at the beginning to perfect. I suggest spending some time in the first world, tinkering around with it, as it requires a lot of tabbing along and tabbing in further in one tab, moving items, and figuring out how to craft the stuff you need. I found the more info button priceless.

Loading times can be a bit frustrating, I’d often walk away and come back and it is still loading the worlds, which to be honest I didn’t feel were that big that they warranted a load time that long.

What disgusted me the most was even though I aimed on smashing through the game, focusing on the story and the character development line, is the fact I spent a 3 hr session going from world to world collecting resouces, building a house and decorating it. I was adamant I wouldn’t get sucked into the building component, and I fell for it hook line and sinker. It was actually really fun.

Your character even has ability points that can be put into areas as your level up. Skills such as strength, dexterity, intelligence etc will effect things such damage put on enemies, ability to cast spells or speed of your dodges, which is surprisingly noticeable the higher you level up.

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It does appear quite junior in appearance, I will admit that. One thing that would elevate this game would be a graphical enhancement. While the visuals aren’t terrible, and in fact quite cute and simply stylised, coupled with the gibberish speech of the NPC’s and I couldn’t really shake the feeling I shouldn’t be playing it at my age. I even had a giggle at an opening statement as the game loads up “Do not build or create structures that would be deemed offensive or inappropriate by other players”, damn there goes my plans for dominating the “Portal Knights” land.

I found gameplay, no different whether you played with a control on in handheld mode. Visually the graphics only minorly downgraded as you used it in the dock on the big screen, as you’d expect. Everything always looks so good on the little handheld screen.

Overall, despite a few flaws, “Portal Knights” definitely holds itself high in the crafting, sandbox world genre. The drawcard in this game is the fact it makes a solid while not overly interesting attempt at a storyline that acts as a driving force to keep exploring the different biomes. It may not knock Minecraft off its top shelf, it is certainly making it jiggle on the edge.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Platform: PC, Android, PS4, XBOX ONE, Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Keen Games
  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Genre: Multiplayer, Action / Adventure, Misc