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Portal Knights

Posted by GG Goblin On June - 6 - 2017

Going from portal to portal.

 
Minecraft was, and still is to a degree, a global phenomenon. As such, many pretenders have stepped up with their own version of the sandbox world-building game, with the majority simply rehashing Minecraft’s successful formula to varying degrees of success. Beyond these clones, there are a few titles that try to expand on the formula and change things up, offering something new and slightly different. The hugely entertaining Dragon Quest Builders was one of these games, combining the block building style of Minecraft with the RPG mechanics, direction and theme of the Dragon Quest titles. Now, we also have Portal Knights from Keen Games and 505 Games.

 
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Portal Knights offers players a whole bunch of customisation options from the outset. Creating a character is nice and straight forward, and players who are thus inclined have plenty of options in how their character looks. This level of customisation not only plays to the creators vanity however, as Portal Knights is playable with others in co-op mode and making your character stand out is a matter of pride. Or so I am told, at least.

 
When it comes to playstyle, the player is able to choose from three different classes – Warrior, Archer and Mage. For those who like to get up close and personal, the Warrior will be the way to go, with the Archer and Mage offering more ranged attacks that will keep the character further away from harm. Each class plays differently and starts out differently. They also progress in a different way.

 
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Fighting the various monsters that inhabit the islands that the player will be exploring, leads to experience. Characters are then able to level up as they gather enough experience, and are rewarded with points to assign to the various stats available. Despite their being the standard set of stats that players can manipulate, each class focuses only on two of the stats, and so players will find themselves largely ignoring the other stats as they make their chosen class of character more powerful. As they reach level milestones, the classes will also unlock new skills to further beef up their chances of tackling the ever increasing difficulty in the game.

 
The combat works well. It is not complicated, possibly revealing the slightly younger target market for the game. With the Warrior, it is about avoiding attacks and then bashing, while the Mage and Archer are more about aim, fire and move. There is a nice variety of monsters to tackle, with quite varied difficulty even in the same island. There are even a few boss battles to deal with, which offer a much higher level of tactics required, and are best faced with a group. One thing that does make the combat a little more tricky is the camera. Despite various options to tweak how the camera works, and even the character’s point of view, the wildly varied environments can mean that it is not always easy to see exactly what is around the character. Sometimes the camera can get stuck on the landscape, and aiming is not always as fluid as would be best.

 
While the combat in Portal Knights will play a big part in the game, the emphasis is on exploration. Players will begin on a small island, and somewhere on the island will be a broken portal. This portal can be repaired by gathering crystal shards that are dropped by enemies when defeated. Once repaired, the player can step through the portal and find themselves on a different island. This carries on with each island having at least one portal. There is a map of the islands that the player has visited, allowing for a certain amount of back and forth between the islands as the various environments will give access to different resources.

 
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A short tutorial at the beginning will introduce the player to movement, fighting and, of course, crafting. While the resource variety may not reach the dizzying heights of some other games in this genre, there are plenty of things to make, including a selection of workbenches that give access to new weapons, magic and the like. There are also plenty of cosmetic items that can be used to personalise any buildings that the player may create on an island.

 
The problem is that setting up a permanent home on a given island feels a little bit redundant because the player will be constantly moving from one island to the next. Some of the early islands, I only spent minutes on before moving onto the next. NPCs will be found that give the player quests, such as gathering certain resources or defeating a number of monsters, and these will often lead to the player having to jump between islands, further moving the player away from a single island that they can build into a home.

 
Portal Knights is a great looking game. The customisation means that when playing with others, everyone will have a unique look. Everything is bright and colourful, and both the characters and monsters are well animated. There is very little threat to the game, making it ideal for youngsters who will get the most from the cartoony style.

 
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Portal Knights may not have the wealth of building options or focused direction of some other games in the block-built genre, but it is very enjoyable overall. It is very easy to play, and offers a selection of different little sandboxes for those of a creating inclination. While more suitable for the younger gamer, the constant push of exploration and the varied monsters and bosses that the player will have to overcome mean that there is plenty here for the more hardened gamer to enjoy. Portal Knights is a nice variation on a hugely popular genre and worth checking out.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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