Portal Knights is the story of a fracture which occurred and tore the land apart so that it became a series of islands. Of course, long ago there were portals which would act as go-betweens but have long been out of commission until you the hero comes along to rectify that. One of the first things you will learn in Portal Knights is how to turn on these portals so you can reach the next island. The story is only really set up to drive the point that there is a series of lands to explore but the story does not continue much through the world if at all. It would have added a nice touch had that been the case.
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Audio consists of nice calming melodic tunes. Sound effects attributed to your character can be chosen when you start the game. In terms of the sound effects, everything has been accomplished competently and nothing stands out as being disappointing.
When you first load up Portal Knights the first thing you will notice is the character design screen which is rather cool as you can make your character look quite unique. It is always nice to have a comprehensive character editor as you certainly don’t want to look like your friends or maybe you do?
When you choose your name, which will take a while seeing as most are already taken. You will be confronted with your first island which looks really quite stunning. The islands or worlds here look really great in a cute cartoony style and all look different from the last. Whether it’s lush greenery or bare sandy looking desert type islands to your snow-covered ones. They are all beautiful and look unique. For me, it was an exciting experience discovering a new land when I had finished with the previous one.
It was enjoyable walking around the long grass or how the day turns to night and the differences that brought with it. The characters are drawn nicely and the enemies themselves all look diverse. I think the visuals were definitely a highlight here. The only issue I had was with the menu system which is cluttered and can be a little difficult to navigate through as there is quite a lot to it and it’s not something you will understand pick up right away. I played the game online with friends and didn’t have any slowdown issues. The game ran really smoothly in both handheld and docked mode for the most part which I will explain more about in the gameplay section.
The game is a mixture of a few different elements but here the game focuses more on the action and RPG type elements. The aim of the game is to explore each island and to collect resources either by killing the monsters, completing quests given out by NPC’s or by digging for materials. In the same way that in Minecraft if you build a pick axe it makes it quicker to dig into rock or chop down wood.
You can also plant seeds which reminds me of Stardew Valley. The whole point of all this is so you can craft new items like armour, weapons and even spells which can be assigned to your character at the cost of some mana. There are 3 classes to choose from here and you can go for a warrior, Mage or Ranger. The game consists of the same journey through each island most of the time which is, gather resources, craft better items for your character, get stat points so you can level up by defeating enemies, activate the portal by crafting 6 portal stones by acquiring portal shards, go through the portal and rinse and repeat. In the meantime, you can take in some lush scenery kill some monsters and build a great structure if you want!
While it can sound repetitive I am continuing to enjoy the experience and all of this is so you can defeat the portal guardians which I am not going to spoil in the review.
The RPG elements are pretty light and as you level up you can assign stat points to your character. For a wizard Intelligence is important and so this is where I was putting my points as I levelled up. Other than that it’s not that complex and you can reassign them as desired if need be.
You will also have to think about where you want to set up as your home. Each island will have half complete buildings giving you the opportunity to finish them off. This is where the game compares to Minecraft in that you could spend an entire evening just building a house if you wanted too. Whereas the emphasis in Minecraft is to create, here it’s there if you want it but the emphasis is more on action and building up your character. It’s cool that all these other elements have been incorporated because it’s all been done really well and I prefer this purely because of the action-orientated focus. The truth though you can do whatever you enjoy doing.
You can easily if you want to grow some cotton, harvest the cotton and then turn the cotton into materials which can then be used to craft a whole set of clothes from a hat, gloves and chest armour. Fancy making a staff? no problem head out to find some green gems. Maybe you want to craft a ring then go out and mine some red gems which can be found on a specific island. You will get to know what material is where and you will need to think about upgrading and building new work benches for differnet things. Each weapon or armour set can also add different stats to your character.
In terms of controls, they are really tight here, battling consists of locking onto an enemy and unleashing your attack. You can dodge enemies as they close in on you also. Whilst exploring you can switch between the first person and third person views and both worked really well. I enjoyed the third person view more and the combat is very satisfying. The only negative I found is that there is not much of a punishment if you die so you could just rush in over and over again and lose a few coins and that’s it.
There are all sorts of things you can craft and you will need to find all sorts of materials spread throughout the islands which are is all part of the fun. The menu systems really can take a little while to get used to and are navigated through using the top trigger buttons but there is quite a lot of the game to learn and at first you will spend a few hours just getting to know it so be prepared to be patient. One of the fantastic things this version utilises on the console is the use of touch controls and this especially helps when managing your inventory.
Check out our video review for more on this here https://youtu.be/BaY_1Da4DWA
There is a small tutorial but for me, it should have been a little more comprehensive. Once you move onto island two you are really on your own. You will learn the basics but for anything more advanced be prepared to figure it out. Once you visit an island you can fast travel between them on the map. You will also gather loads of itmes pretty quickly so resource management is key. You will find NPC’s where you can sell items which you do not require for extra cash.
The great thing about Portal knights is the ability to play with a friend or 3! and this game makes great use of either split screen for local play where 2 of you can play or online where you can explore with 4 in total which I found to be fantastic fun. James and I spent a whole evening just levelling up together in split screen. Some of the bosses you encounter later in the game are great fun because you have to use your tactical skills to defeat them.Other worthy mentions are the random dungeons and NPC’s which appear where there is over 100 to meet and also pets that you can acquire later on.
So you can probably say at this point that our review of portal knights is favourable as it really is a quality game. There is only one thing at this moment in time which makes me hesitant to recommend the game outright and it’s a dreaded memory issue. If you play the game for over an hour the memory consumption drastically seems to increase on the game affecting anything from sound to the choppiness of the game. The issue can go as far as you losing all progress. The devs have updated everyone on forums and twitter to say they are aware and a fix has been submitted to Nintendo with a patch fix. Until that happens then please be aware of this issue as it affects sound, visuals and of course the gameplay itself.
The game is £24,99 or $29,99 in the U.S which for me represents good value especially with the amount of content on offer here. The game is super addictive, there is loads to do and accomplish and for me, the game will last you many many hours. You can, build, explore, craft, fight and play with friends to your heart’s content.