Do you want to come over to my house for a cup of tea? I’ve just had some work done – did it all myself. I have a lovely copper stone finish on the wall, a real homemade fireplace, a workstation, a magic altar, a furnace, a couple of troll heads hanging of the wall and a nice water feature in the garden.
I’ve clearly been spending too long in the world of Portal Knights.
505 games have had an early version of Portal Knights available on PC for a while now, and the team has obviously learnt a lot. They’ve worked with the growing community to find out what they enjoy, what they hate, and what they want more of. Now the finished article has arrived on Xbox One. But what is it?
Well it’s a brilliant mix of Terraria and Zelda, with splashes of Minecraft thrown in for good measure. It is also a massive time killer. I think I’ve spent far too much time perfecting my little house, rather than progressing through the story which is in place.
You start the game all alone on a random island, leaving you with the goal of helping your little knight to collect enough materials or build portal stones, in order to open another portal to get to the next island. Now, each island will always have its own eco-structure, animals and enemy types. They will also come with a homestead and some kind of dungeon, at the very least. After which, it’s up to you to what you do next.
You could go straight to your homestead, make a crafting table and then start building. Do you get some armour or a fancy weapon? Do you concentrate on farming resources or a spot of mining; you might need a pick axe first? Or do you go straight out there, attack some creatures, and grab the portal stones? Speed-run a dungeon and bob’s your uncle, as you’ll soon find yourself on another island. But you can also choose to hang around, do some farming and make your homestead fancy. There are so many choices, but it’s not a daunting prospect because it’s a very relaxing, comforting world to spend time in.
The fighting mechanics work extremely well and you get to choose between a warrior, ranger and mage. I spent most of my time as a ranger, firing arrows at monsters, utilising a bit of magic thrown in. It’s fairly simple to master, with dodging and attacking being the mainstream gameplay mechanics. After a while you do get a bit bored by the combat and how similar it all feels. The boss levels are good fun though, with the old ‘learn the pattern, kill when you get the chance’ model. It works fine and is effective.
Without a doubt Portal Knights is a simple game, but my word there is a lot to do.
You can craft items from the ingredients you pick up. These can be simple affairs, like adding three bits of wood and some stone to make a bow. Or there are more complex recipes, where you might to need to create a number of sub-recipes before you can get the goodies that you want. This is the addictive part of the game and the thing that makes you obsessive. Certain islands have certain ingredients, and specific creatures will drop specific goodies, so be prepared to be teleporting back and forth between islands looking for that perfect loot.
As well as the armour, spells and weapons you create, you can almost build and craft anything. The creative ones out there will have a field day and if you just have a little search online, will notice some of the brilliant creations the clever folk have created.
You gain experience points and coins on your journey and you’ll meet other island dwellers to trade with or receive certain mini quests from – all of which give valuable experience points. The islands themselves are challenging and diverse in their random design, but never do they bore.
The other big bonus that comes with Portal Knights is the inclusion of co-op features. You can play locally with a buddy, or online with some friends, with up to four players catered for. This is where the real fun begins and it can be played with a small child, or three drunken mates after a night out with equal success. It’s a game that we can all feel familiar with – colourful and family friendly.
Regarding the reasoning behind it all and there is a story here. But it’s very loose and free. You are the centre of the narrative and where that story twists and turns is very much up to you.
In the looks department the game is very pretty, colourful and bright. It’s like all those old Xbox 360 avatars have been sent off on a mega adventure. There is nothing groundbreaking in the tone, but what it does do is make a wonderful world that makes you smile every time you switch it on. It has a lovely soundtrack too, one that is both epic and delightful. It’s most definitely one of those which you’ll find swirling round in your head for days to come.
To conclude, Portal Knights is a great game that is definitely worth the price tag. If it came delivered as a full price title, I would still have highly recommended it. There is so much to do, and so much fun to be had. I’ve put a big old chunk of hours in, but I’ve still got things to build and play with. The online and local co-op options make it a decent investment for all, but should you be sitting on the fence, I’d urge you to grab a bow, a pick axe and enter Portal Knights now.