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For The King

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 15 - 2019

Roll the dice and take your chances.

Anyone who has played a board game will know exactly how exciting, and potentially frustrating, the roll of a dice can be. Rolling the right number can lead to a sense of joy, while rolling the worst possible number can lead to, well, playing pieces flying across the room. When it comes to video games, the equivalent is the random number generator and, to be honest, it is not very well thought of. However, when a game is trying to emulate the feel of a tabletop game, the RNG is an essential part of the experience. It can also make games much more difficult and reliant on luck. This is the case with IronOak Games’ For The King, a tabletop RPG in digital form. However, it doesn’t rely simply on the roll of a dice to make the game difficult, as it also happens to be a Roguelike.

ftk1 (Copy)

Released last year on PC after a long period in Early Access, For The King is finally making its way onto the consoles, with the Switch version being played here. The good news here is that on console For The King comes with all of the previously released DLC that expanded the game far beyond its original Early Access form, and you would also hope that all of the bugs had been ironed out. It’s good to hope.

Anyway, For The King is a tabletop RPG with a variety of different campaigns to play through, including the chance for co-op play, that include procedurally generated maps, quests and events. It is also quite difficult, and death is permanent. While this is a grim state of affairs and many players will take several playthroughs at least to complete a campaign, the game does at least offer a little solace allowing players to purchase permanent additions to their game, such as new characters or events, that will appear in future games after they fail. Still, it is hard work and players will need to learn how to play the game, and how to be best prepared for whatever the game is going to throw at them, before they even have a chance to reach any kind of conclusion.

Most of the campaigns will present the player with a story. Some are short, some are long, none of them are especially engrossing. But then, For The King is not really a narrative game, and players will likely not be here for the stories, but rather for the adventure. Play takes place across a hex-based map, and the procedural nature of the map does mean that it can take a little while to set up. Not hugely long, but long enough to wonder why its taking so long. Once set up, the player will be able to visit towns and NPCs, explore dungeons and even see enemies before charging into battle.

ftk2 (Copy)

The player can create a team of three heroes from a nice selection of different classes. While each class comes with their own special skills and such, making for great variety, their abilities are dictated by the weapons they use. This leaves the player on the constant hunt for new, more powerful equipment. The variety of classes, which will grow over time, gives players the chance to experiment with tactics and what works for them, and failure could simply be down to not taking a particular class in their team. It’s a fun way that the game grows as the player becomes more and more used to the mechanics.

The combat will be familiar to anyone who enjoys the older JRPGs. Turn-based battles with each character selecting which move to use are fairly commonplace, but something many players will appreciate after the evolution to far more complex systems. Of course, there is a lot of reliance on those randomly generated numbers in the combat, which can be frustrating when it seems like the enemy is blessed with perfect rolling, but I have already said, this is a difficult game and random events could wipe out characters at any time, so a little RNG in the combat can’t be all that bad.

The thing is, once you get into the rhythm of the game and start to understand the mechanics, it really does become very compelling. Failure teaches the player and also makes the game grow. With a bunch of different adventures to play through, including a mode that focusses on dungeon crawling and a more competitive co-op mode, there is plenty to keep the solo player and co-op players entertained for hours.

Visually, the game has a childlike charm that really belies the hardcore difficulty. It is bright and colourful, with a really nice variety of different environments and enemies for the player to discover.

Coming over to the Switch does seem to have presented a few problems for the game. It is not entirely bug free, for example, with the occasional crash. Fortunately, the game saves very frequently, so little progress will be lost. There is also the control problem in that the game doesn’t lend itself well to the use of controllers. This is not surprising given the PC origins of the game, but it can still be quite jarring how awkward the controls feel.

ftk3 (Copy)

For The King is a game that relies on randomly generated numbers, but get past this and players will find a very compelling roguelike RPG that works great both solo and in co-op. It may have a couple of problems, and it is very difficult, but its a worthwhile challenge. For those looking to emulate the tabletop experience in an RPG video game, For The King is easily worth the roll of the dice.




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