Portal Knights Review
Portal Knights is one of those games that comes along every now and then and tries to steal the crown from the ultimate sandbox game, Minecraft, whilst taking pointers from Terraria.
There isn’t much of a story here except for the fact that a ‘fracture’ had arrived to the world, creating portals between all the islands in the world, and it’s up to you, whoever you may be, to travelling to and fro, completing quests and choosing one of these islands to call “home”. As much as this is sandbox adventure title, it also focuses heavily on RPG elements to progress you further through the lands.
You’ll begin by customising your child-like character, giving them a name and choosing from a variety of facial features. No RPG would be that unless it had classes to choose from and in Portal Knights’ case you can take your pick from a Warrior; which will offer increased health points and melee damage, Ranger; which will increase your movement speed and range damage, and finally the good ol’ Mage that will increase mana points available to you and spell damage. You will then name your world and you’ll be able to jump straight into the game. You could bring a friend along to join you co-operatively via local play or online, but unfortunately this title does not offer any form of matchmaking.
All the islands you’ll encounter are procedurally generated, offering you a different experience every time you play, which also seems like the norm these days for titles of this genre. If you’re familiar with Minecraft, you’ll notice some similarities in the HUD and the mechanics of gameplay. You’ll see the ‘stack bar’ at the bottom of the screen which allows you to quickly access items that are in your inventory, to a maximum of nine slotted at a time. You get your standard health bar in the upper corner of the screen with your XP bar – after all a good RPG needs an XP-based levelling system, right?
You can mine pretty much anything you see from walls to structures, from objects to plants – each offering various types of materials to help you to craft items, weapons, armour and even furniture. Holding down the right trigger button will allow you to mine constantly, aiming your reticle and that of which you wish to mine. Mining also acts as attacking when you come within range of an enemy and can be locked down sights, allowing you to perform evasive manoeuvres. Don’t be fooled by the vibrantly detailed worlds that looks like it comes straight from a Disney movie, as these enemies are tough, even from the start. Just a few hits to the face and you’ll die, respawning you back at that islands travelling pad, costing you a small fraction of your collected coins. Thankfully, these enemies don’t respawn unless you leave the island so persistence is key. A nuisance is when you’re trying to mine or tackle a mission but all you’re faced with are hollow knights who will burn or freeze you. These are essentially the ‘creepers’ of Portal Knight and only appear at night.
Quests are random, with some islands offering time-limited events that are only available if you’re not playing ‘offline’. Completing these events can prove troublesome requiring you to stray further away from your tasks before you can even attempt the challenge, such as hunting for materials or crafting equipment for a villager. But if successful, will reap you with rewards. There’s also plenty of dungeons to be discovered – some in plain sight, whereas others will be required to be sought out by mining deep below the surface. Completing dungeons will grand you a chest at the end with a big boost to your XP. Or simply build your own dungeon later on and fill it with hordes of enemies and challenge your friends to attempt them, even offering your own loot as a reward.
There’s a bunch of stuff you can upgrade including spending points on boosting up your attributes or unlocking new talents to help make defeating these monsters easier. XP can be gained from almost everything you do in Portal Knights. Kill a few enemies, craft some equipment or mine some materials and you’ll get a tiny amount of XP. Completing quests and dungeons will reward you with a chunk of XP, so you can choose the best method of earning that XP according to your preferred playstyle. Want to take a break? Then you can set one of these islands as your home and start adapting the island to how best suits you. Build some towers and give yourself a castle or simply mine everything in sight and start from scratch. The possibilities of what you can build is endless, providing you have the right resources to so.
Portal Knights is an excellent alternative to the sandbox genre, but what makes Minecraft king is its simplicity and less convoluted approach, which is why it has become a worldwide name. It’s hard to take the mantle from something like that, but this title definitely proves it has got what it takes to provide you with an endless amount of hours of entertainment for its low price-point.
Portal Knights is available to buy from retailers or to download digitally from the Xbox Store, priced at £15.99.
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