Portal Knights is an exploration RPG with a plethora of crafting mechanics. The game went through an early access period, and from what I read, the developers listened to the community rather often to help shape the game. At the time of official release there are 3 classes to play, Warrior, Ranger, and Mage. In order of mention, they are your archetypal melee, ranged, and magic classes of any RPG. Each class has their own unique talents that can shape your playstyle that you can also, to my great relief, change whenever you want. You also get specific character skills like strength for extra melee damage, but these can only be changed with a rather rare potion. After that is where the real player uniqueness comes in. Some items can only be used by certain classes, but there is room to mix up your playstyle, such as a melee-based Ranger with a high strength build.
Where this can kind of hit a brick wall is the intentional scaling of different tiers of ores and materials in the game. You are also required to grind out quite a few recipes, which unless you run across them or read a guide, you won’t know they exist for the most part. The problem this brings is that some of these recipes may be required to continue doing your playstyle without getting your ass beat by random enemies in the world. For me, this is both fun and very tedious because you must adapt to what items are available. The game is continuously updating and becoming more complex so things may change and this can become less of a “problem,” but there’s always room for you to adapt. For now, the tedium is there of feeling underpowered because you’re forced to make do with a mediocre weapon. Sometimes I felt like I was searching more for a better weapon than exploring and enjoying the world I was on.
The worlds of Portal Knights are the shining redeemer for me though in what is chiefly an exploration game. There are various biomes that a planet can be and its filled with enemies that are relevant to that biome. What makes the worlds special though, is that each one feels truly unique even though they are randomly created. There’s houses, forts, and other buildings that can dot the landscape, or it can be a barren wasteland. The various flora and enemies complete the package and really flesh out the worlds. Enemies can be recycled, but may have different abilities, and the color pattern for biomes can get repetitive, but there’s only so much they can do with that. They do have plans to introduce new enemy types and such though, so something to look forward to.
There are also friendly NPC’s you can run into, most of whom I immediately attempted to kill on sight. You can’t kill them, at least not yet. Most say a few one-liners and stand around. A few can be traders or quest givers. The trading and quest system works fine, but there’s no marker for the NPC on the map. So, after you went halfway across the world to kill X or craft X for the quest, there’s no indicator of where to return to. Add in the fact that you’re mining and/or fighting your way across the world, it’s pretty damn easy to get turned around. Same thing applies for the trader. You have limited inventory, so say you went back to your base for something to sell, you better have remembered where that NPC was. All part of the exploration aspect I guess, but the first quest giver I ran into was standing in the middle of a jungle. The entire world was jungle, so after a few minutes of wandering around and fighting for my life, I gave up trying to find him.
My Two Cents
The final sale price is $19.99 on Steam and some people set their expectations of a game solely on that price. I’ve learned to use it as a good buffer but always step into something with some optimism. I found some things that annoyed me like the recipe grinding, but that’s honestly nit-picking. The game has a great premise and executes exactly what it set out to do. I truly had fun exploring the different worlds and beating up on bad guys. I never reached that dreaded point of asking myself “what now?” or why I was still playing. If you’re looking for a colorful exploration RPG with crafting/building, definitely pick this game up. The developers are still avidly working on it and that’s always a great sign, that developers care about what they created rather than thinking of it as just a paycheck.