King’s Bounty 2 is a drained sigh of a Euro-style tactical RPG. Not the sort you make while you’re annoyed or relieved, although; it is extra like while you sit down after strolling up an extended flight of stairs and really feel type of distantly content material. For essentially the most half, it is superb. The tactical fight is definitely fairly pleasing, the music is nice, and the world seems good. But it feels janky and unpolished in a variety of technical points, and the mediocre storytelling hardly ever received me motivated to see how the subsequent step of the journey would possibly unfold.
In a variety of methods, this lengthy-overdue sequel is akin to RPGs like ELEX or The Technomancer: a mid-price range contender that actually needs to be one thing like a blockbuster BioWare game however does not actually have the sources or the experience to get there. King’s Bounty 2 is a bit much less formidable than both of these different two, and doubtless the higher for it – it doesn’t attempt to do something wild and sticks to the basics. But from the overall glitchiness of the digital camera to the phoned-in story cutscenes, I nonetheless received the sense that the builders at 1C bit off greater than they might chew.
The voice performing, for one factor, may be very inconsistent. The sorceress Katherine, one of many three playable characters and the one I spent essentially the most time with over 40 hours of adventuring, has a satisfying timbre with a haughty, aristocratic supply. But a few of the random NPCs scattered all through the world sound extra like they’d simply grabbed somebody who hadn’t been in entrance of a mic earlier than and handed them a script, if the distractingly dangerous performances are something to go by. And these moments detract from the worldbuilding.
Characters are launched very abruptly, similar to the whole lot else within the story, and also you’re despatched ping-ponging from one clue to the subsequent with little room for anyone to develop relationships with others, a lot much less as people. There had been a few surprises that felt definitely worth the wait, however normally the motives of the varied leaders and factions had been at all times introduced with so little nuance that nothing that occurred left a lot of an emotional impression. It feels very by-the-numbers, like all the coronary heart went into constructing out the setting and little or no into the solid and story.
That’s a bit of a shame, because the fantasy world 1C has put together is pretty slick for a project this size. The graphics are a bit dated-looking, especially with the lighting, creature animations, and some of the faces. Compared to even a six-year-old game like The Witcher 3, it comes up short. However, they’ve gone with an art direction that’s just stylized enough it didn’t bother me all that often. Zooming in on individual units reveals a lot of depth and detail, especially on some of the bigger monsters, and I particularly liked how increasing a squad’s veterancy would spiff up their equipment visually as well. While large portions of the map can feel a bit samey – a lot of it is just hilly green woodland – it’s also packed with little lore tidbits like discarded notes and history tomes that were entertaining to paw through.
If only getting around weren’t such a huge pain. Your default run speed is just slow enough to be thoroughly irritating from the first moment to the last, and for some reason there’s a walk button but no sprint. Why anyone would want to move through this sprawling country even slower than you move by default sure beats me. You do get a horse fairly early on, but it has clunky controls, it’s restricted to walking speed in larger towns, and it has a lengthy animation to get on and off that freezes you in place. That never ceased to be frustrating.
What saves King’s Bounty 2’s bacon is the turn-based tactical battles. Granted, there are some unpleasant difficulty spikes, especially if you’re playing a magic build in the early game. But they’re actually pretty good fights once you get into the swing of things. You take an army of up to five units into each one, with dozens of choices from human knights, to gruesome undead, to deadly mythical beasts that result in practically endless interesting compositions. They’re divided into four factions of Order, Anarchy, Power, and Finesse, and normally you’ll want to stick to one to get the best synergies – but there are ways to build your character to be more faction-agnostic, at the cost of not being able to focus on beefing up one faction to their max potential.
King’s Bounty 2 Review Screenshots
The talent tree has an interesting twist to it as well, in that higher-level talents are tied to ethical decisions you’ll make in both the main story and side quests. To unlock the most powerful magic spells, for instance, you’ll have to choose Finesse over Power when given multiple ways to complete a mission. It turns out, though, that this is a better idea in theory than in practice. Finesse options tend to be the better choice in almost all cases unless you really want to put yourself in unnecessary danger for the sake of a challenge, and Anarchy vs Order typically ends up boiling down to moustache-twirling bad guy versus righteous hero. I would have liked to see a bit more complexity and nuance that could have led to more difficult decisions.
Where this got a bit awkward is when I realized that there are only a finite number of battles, and a finite amount of treasure, throughout the entire world. That means you can’t grind out weaker enemies for experience and better gear if you’re stuck, so some sections felt like I was running around from side quest to side quest looking for a fight that I could actually win with my current power. It also means you can technically get a “game over” by shedding your entire items and never having the cash to exchange them. King’s Bounty 2 helps you to save wherever at any time, so that is extra of a theoretical challenge. But it is also form of a poster little one for the handful of awkward design selections that simply do not appear nicely thought-out.