June 21, 2024

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review | King Arthur: A Knight’s Tale

  • Dark takes the legend of Arthur
  • Managing and strengthening your base and units has depth
  • Fighting becomes monotonous
  • small conflicts
  • voice acting

When King Arthur: Knights Tale was released in April of this year, I quickly requested a review key. TRPG is one of my favorite genres, but it usually comes with an anime twist or as one of the many Warhammer titles. So I immediately saw a game that takes a completely different approach.

This review key didn’t make it to GameQuarter until August due to a technical issue. Not exactly in time for a revision of 1.0 as we originally envisioned, but it’s also a shame that nothing was done with it. So we have a look at what the game looks like now which has reached version 1.2.2.

Not the hero of King Arthur

In Arthurian legends, King Arthur is the hero. It is not surprising, of course, given the name. However, it was far from perfect, given the fact that he was born a bastard with his half-sister. This bastard was Mordred, a knight nicknamed the Dread Dread and in many legends the one who nearly killed Arthur.

It’s no different in Knight’s Tale, only the two heavyweights are killing each other in their last battle. Arthur, as the hero of mythology, is then transported to Avalon to get his well-deserved rest in the afterlife. At least that’s how it should have gone. In fact, His Highness is unable to come to terms with his death and as a result, the entire empire is plunged into chaos.

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The Lady of the Lake, a semi-divine entity in these legends, decided that she could not let this run its course. But even with all her talents, she is unable to stop the fall of the future king and future king. In her desperation, she thus focuses on the only warrior who could put Arthur’s life in danger: Sir Mordred. Our hero questionable morals in this story.

table without corners

Even with Lady Wisdom at his side, the resurrected Mordred is not a one-man army that can effortlessly challenge Arthur’s dark forces. Therefore, your goal in this easy seventy hour adventure is to get stronger, make your own roundtable, rebuild Camelot and gain land. To achieve this, you will need to pass laws, gather resources and intervene in the conflict to make the kingdom prosper, as well as appoint cronies, recover wounded knights and more. But baby step by step.

This may sound like criticism, but it’s definitely not intended that way. The idea that building your army for change is about more than gathering people and grinding levels is a really appealing one to me. War is, in most cases, a protracted battle in which land is lost or little gained. So translating this into a video game sounded like music to my ears. In translation, however, something is lost somewhere.

play war

In the opening of King Arthur we see a great battle. Two armies led by some notable knights and wizards collide. This is not what the game offers then. Instead, you set out with four knights to battle entire armies of zombies, bandits and monsters on your sword like real tanks. Forget about the big fights. In most cases, the new King of Camelot has to set out to liberate a village or explore the forests.

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Had this been put in a cool sweater and talked to each other with a common thread, this wouldn’t have been a problem at all. But this is where the shoe gets pinched. Everything in King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is delivered with big words and melodrama, but the scale of events does not reflect this. Plus, in some cases, the voice acting is so exciting that Monty Python and the Holy Grail kept coming to mind. Mordred himself is very well expressed, but the same cannot be said about the entire cast.

Plunge into volume

Of course, it’s not fair to impose my own expectations on the game. Just because I feel this battlefield has to be bigger doesn’t automatically mean developer NeoCore did something wrong by going down a different path. However, there is a reason why many TRPGs allow you to control many units or form those units into small armies. The larger scope gives you more strategic options and a more exciting battlefield to implement. The playing field that four knights can challenge on foot is inherently very limited to the spot. And that breaks Knight’s tale in my opinion after about ten hours.

The battles then turn into skirmishes that you complete in minutes, with over a dozen enemies made up mostly of weak units like regular zombies or miscreants. There are interesting conflicts with unique and compelling enemies, but they are like needles in a haystack consisting mostly of monotonous collisions on repetitive maps. Maps that you can explore in between, but it was better to remove them completely to go from the big showdown to the big showdown.

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On paper, King Arthur could have been something really interesting. A different take on familiar myths and a slow, realistic approach make for a dark story that takes time to build. Unfortunately, padding partially undermines this setup, thanks to bumps that don’t do the setup justice in terms of size and intensity.