Portal Knights Review, An Unconvincing Medley Of Sandbox And ARPG
The Minecraft inspiration is felt at the first glance, the universe of Portal Knights being built in cubes, and our inventory appearing in the form of a horizontal bar at the bottom of our screen. But all this is not just a matter of dressing, since in terms of mechanics we are dealing with a world generated in a procedural way, which can be broken by using the proper tool according to the material. And while players can destroy, they can also build by using the blocks they’ve recovered and arranging them as they please. However, the creation is set back in this title which decided to put forward mechanics that are more of the traditional action RPG genre.
Let us first introduce the context of Portal Knights, in order to understand its motivations. We are evolving in a post-apocalyptic world , one might say, since it has undergone a great cataclysm: the "Fracture". The world was thus split into multiple flying islands and it is up to the players to link them again. To do this, we’ll have to visit each of the 47 islets and open their teleport portals by completing objectives and finding the right materials.
This concept raises Portal Knights' major difference with Minecraft: instead of finding ourselves in an immense environment, where we can create our own narrative, we go through a succession of very small worlds without immense potential that are quite similar in structure even if their appearance varies. Very quickly, a routine takes place: we arrive on an island, we go around it recovering materials and killing enemies, we find teleport portal, and we move to the next island.
By wanting to be different, the title of Keen Games evades any creative interest, any sandbox aspect: why build and decorate a house, in a world of such limited size and possibilities that we are destined to leave within the hour?
Of course, things can be different when playing with others (two in local split screen, and up to four online). The adventure then takes on another flavor, building a base on one of the islands can serve as a central hub, and cooperation between classes can be interesting. This can, however, be quite restrictive. Should a player want to travel to a different island to gather materials, all the players in the world will have to go with them.
Portal Knights proposes several classes; If it limits its creative aspect, it is because it places a lot on the action and the role playing aspect. At the beginning of the game we manage our character sheet in the way of many RPGs: appearance, class (ranger, mage or warrior) and name. Later we will find other classical components of the genre, such as the addition of attribute points at each level (strength, constitution, agility, etc.), the choice of skills specific to our class, and even the evolution of equipment.
"Classic" is unfortunately the term that best describes the RPG side of Portal Knights. Craft is quite shallow, just like skills, battles or quests. We appreciate the effort of the developers and their willingness to mix to get a wind of freshness: No, Portal Knights is not a clone of Minecraft. However the medley is badly operated, and damages the sandbox aspect as to the action side, put side by side without genius. Certainly, the controls work well and the achievements are qualitative, but the artistic direction and music can be rather repetitive.
We have seen a number of low quality minecraft clones through the last six years, and more of them are sure to come. Let me reassure you: Portal Knights does not correspond to this description. With a good visual accomplishment - although generic - the title has also been carefully designed in terms of mechanics. However, the mix between sandbox and action RPG, while interesting, is made in such a way that it will not meet the expectations of everyone. Very simple on the whole, Portal Knights remains a good casual game, especially for friends in multiplayer.