[PlayStation 5] King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Review

by Ajescent

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale from NeocoreGames is an outstanding tactical RPG journey on PS5. Learn more in our King Arthur: Knight’s Tale review!

It’s only March so far, and for me, the game of the year chatter is already hotting up. At this point of the year, we’ve already had games like Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth and Helldivers 2. One game that, unfortunately, probably won’t be talked about much in that circle is King Arthur Knight’s Tale from NeocoreGames. It is not through a lack of effort, and if anything, it is quite the opposite. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a fantastic game that will no doubt be lost in the conversation come the end of the year, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. What even is King Arthur: Knight’s Tale? King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a tactical RPG that feels like a cross between The Banner Saga and DnD, with a touch of XCOM thrown in.

The Banner Saga comparison is a little weak, but it goes a long way in explaining the story. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is based on the King Arthur myth and takes place after the final battle between King Arthur and his illegitimate son and nemesis, Modred. Upon dying on the battlefield against King Arthur, Modred is confused when he himself is revived by the Lady of The Lake – a.k.a. the last person he would expect to be helping him. It seems that after both he and King Arthur died on the battlefield, a dark force resurrected his opponent and is now hellbent on bringing Camelot to ruin. The Lady of the Lake turns to Modred, who, prior to dying, was shaping up to be a less-than-stellar leader and usurper. Upon being revived, Modred is faced with a dilemma: does he take over Camelot and shape it in his own image? Or does he vanquish the new evil destroying the land and rebuild for the good of Avalon?

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review - 1

There is a lot to unpack in terms of story, and it gets more complex as it develops. As you progress through the story, you will encounter other famed Knights of Round and recruit them to your cause. Depending on the choices you make, some will be happy to join off the bat, whilst others might need to do some mental gymnastics before justifying working with you. Either way, most still find their way into your party. This is where the party management system comes in. Periodically, you will get dilemmas to resolve either concerning your party or Avalon as a whole, and the decisions you make will shape the development of your domain and your relationships. As you can imagine, not everyone on your team will love you or your style of play. You can choose to be a merciless/benevolent rule or a religious/paganistic one, and your decisions will move you in any direction based on that diagram. The game keeps track of your choices and grants you access to certain upgrades and new characters depending on the decisions you make.

Your decisions will affect not only the overall outlook of the world but also your knights individually. If the decisions you make go against the beliefs of a character too many times, expect them to turn on you or even leave entirely. Some characters seem determined to get kicked out of your team the moment they join. In one instance, I had one knight who would go out drinking daily, get into fights, and even come close to setting fire to a part of the castle. In this instance, I could either reprimand him or ignore/support his bad habits. Another knight wanted to go on a personal religious quest that would see them out of rotation for two missions. If I had a massive pool of knights to choose from, this would not have been such a problem, but at that point in time, I only had eight available, and suddenly, it was an issue.

This becomes a bigger problem when you take into consideration that health here works in a rather interesting way. Each knight has Armour Points (AP), HP, and Vitality points at their disposal. AP helps to mitigate some HP loss. HP depletes when you take hits, but should your HP get to zero, you begin to lose vitality. Lose too much in a single mission, and your fighters can either gain permanent injuries or just straight-up die… permanently if you are not too careful or allow them to rest in between missions. Mixed in with the fortress management, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale begins to show off its inner XCOM.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review - 2

As the story progresses, you can get resources from the main quest or additional quests you can go on. These resources allow you to build up Camelot by adding new buildings to the castle, such as a training ground, a hospice, and so on. These buildings allow you some bonuses when built and utilized properly. You can assign members of your team to run these sites, with each unit you come across having specialties. You can even assign different knights within your camp to have specific seats in your version of the legendary Round Table. Unsurprisingly, this is a high honor to bestow on a knight and will give them a huge moral boost, but at the same time… do you want to give the seat to a guy who constantly undermines your decisions just because he is good in battle? These are frequent questions players will often find themselves asking during a day in the life of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale.

Camelot management is not the only thing that will take up a big chunk of your time. Combat, as expected, is a major component of the game. The combat is a standard grid-based affair with a medieval slant. Each unit on both sides is given a number of actions per turn and can perform any action as many times as they like as long as they have the means to pay for said action. In theory, your flighty melee character can attack a target up to five times in a turn if you so wish, but at the cost of movement. This encourages you to really think about how your party of four is made as you try to balance between a tanky but immobile team or a flighty but defensively weak unit. Some combat traits players might find interesting are attacks of opportunities that allies and enemies alike can get. If a unit tries to move past a hostile unit without stopping, brace for an unexpected swipe to come your way! Expect enemy units to try to strike you from behind since back attacks give better bonuses and chances of hitting.

The enemy combat AI is pretty solid and will quite often target the weakest links in your party, so no doubt party placement is vital for line of sight, which is something to consider when attacking, to XCOM-style environmental protection being a thing when taking cover. During general gameplay, your chosen squad will be sent out on missions. You can explore and collect treasures and trinkets on the map, but by no means is this an open-world game. With that said, the maps are varied to an extent and can reward exploration with timely campsites to restore some lost HP, or scouting a combat arena can net you new ways to approach an upcoming encounter.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review - 3

Veterans of the genre will feel adequately challenged by King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, and the game is quite stringent in its approach to difficulty. I found myself wincing quite a bit at the end of some fights when members of my team barely made it out of a fight with more injuries than sense. But for some reason, if the difficulty is not hard enough, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale also has a Roguelite Mode, which translates to an Ironman Mode from XCOM, where the game saves every decision you make and every loss you take with no chance of a redo should it backfire.

While fun, the game is not without its flaws. The visuals will not win any awards any time soon, but I do like the aesthetics of this one. It pales when compared to Baldur’s Gate 3 in terms of visuals and presentation, but King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is not to be balked at. Where you should be balking at King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is the presentation of its menus. They are, in a word, awful. Sifting through the management section of Camelot can be bothersome at times, like when trying to buy new equipment for allies. Some weapons and trinkets are specific to certain classes and should only be bought as such. Trying to find out what specific class a unit is was a nightmare as that information was never readily available when looking at specific units.

Should they wish not to have this information readily available, most games will have visual signifiers baked into their portraits so one can take in the necessary information at a glance. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale offers no such luxury as each unit is given its own ye olde portrait – albeit tastefully done. In order to get such basic information, you are required to sift through a few pages just to get there, which makes shopping and general team management a bit of a chore. Navigating feels intuitive during combat as the game allows you to preview how far you can move before each of your abilities becomes unusable or how far you need to move before a skill becomes viable. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale combat feels like a godsend when compared to everything else.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review - 4

Soundwise, the game is strangely a mixed bag. The music is solid, with the main theme being the most worthy of praise from the entire soundtrack, though I dare say that many will find the heavy-breathing woman a little bit off-putting more often than not, but don’t let that take away from a good soundtrack. What you should stay away from is the really bad sound mixing in some parts, with some characters sounding either muffled or poorly put together audio-wise. This does not even mention the sometimes downright bad delivery from some of the performers, who sound like they are reading their lines for the first time rather than acting them out. The audio aspect of the game detracts from an otherwise solid presentation from Neocore games.

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a great game and should not be skipped by fans of the genre. No doubt this will be one of the top five tactical RPGs of the year, but due to it being set in a niche genre, it sadly won’t be one of the top five games this year… but not without trying! King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is out on PlayStation 5 with a $44.99 price tag.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review - 5

This King Arthur: Knight’s Tale review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by NeocoreGames.

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