King’s Bounty: The Legend
A long time ago (in 1990), King’s Bounty was some sort of predecessor of Heroes of Might & Magic. Anno 2008 we get this sequel which was inspired by that same series. The mutual influence is clearly noticeable which doesn’t mean both are copies of each other but that those that like Heroes will probably find this one enjoyable as well.
The storyline is quite thin and relies just like the game world itself on all kinds of fantasy cliches. Next to that there are also many sidequests that are quite necessary as often you’ll need to replenish your power before being able to cope with the big assignments that make the main quests. Luckily there’s quite a lot of variation and of course there’s even some liberty to the order in which you complete quests. The reward for finishing them successfully vary from money and experience to items and runes.
There are almost no options to personalise your character: only a class and name can be chosen. The first is of course the most important and there’s three available: warrior, paladin and mage. The first cares more about troops and less about magic while the mage does it the other way around. The paladin is in between those two and next to focus on magic or troops your class will also determine other stuff like which items the hero can carry (the warrior can for instance take two weapons)
Three properties of your character can be improved with respective runes throughout the game: might, mind and magic. The amount of runes of each part you can get and which abilities you can increase depend on the chosen class. Overall the system is nice and well done but it’s too bad that only few runes are made available. Due to this only late in the game you can bear the fruit of those special abilities.
Your hero can also carry different items that give certain advantages likes weapons, artefacts and so on. Some of these live and can rebel and to regain control you’ll need to defeat the Keepers which are some kind of guardians. Also to upgrade an item you’ll have to face the Keepers and the hard part is that it’s difficult to notice in advance just how tough one of these guys is which can result in you ending up in a fight you can never win. Long live the autosave.
Your character can also get married and have kids. Each wife gives different advantages and also the children will have some positive effect. The wife has four slots for items but when she has kids they will take those slots back. Divorce is also an option resulting in you getting 1/5th of the money back but the wife takes the kids and all items she’s carrying. As such a nice idea but how it’s implemented is a bit less as the advantages are too limited to have a decent influence on the game.
The game plays mainly as an RPG: you solve quests, talk with other characters, collect/buy/sell items, explore worlds, get troops for your army and so on. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t take a lot to gather a ton of money but finding troops and items for sale and useable is a pain. To get a good troops often long and boring travel is necessary. The places they’re put are randomly assigned at the beginning of each game so there’s quite some replayability but beware that already the lifespan of one game is already worthwhile.
The pathfinding is at times really bad which makes the lead character get stuck, bump up against hostiles or take the wrong road. This means that when doing long journeys you’ll have to keep clicking to get where you’re going.
The combat is turn-based with your troops standing on a field and fighting enemy troops. You can get into the action yourself with magic and the Spirits of Rage which have some powerful attacks that can tip the balance in your favour when used properly. It’s no wonder weapon though and the use of them is only limited. Also they can’t be used against bosses.
Even on easy difficulty it’s hard to play. Enemies are often strong and in a world filled with weak opponents you can still encounter absurdly strong hostiles. Once in such a fight the AI seems to think strategically enough but the magic seems to be rather random. If you don’t feel like controlling your troops yourself you can have the auto-combat feature do its thing but you then have to wait for the fight to finish as there’s no “fast forward”. Also the moment your character gets to a high level the auto-combat starts to become more unreliable but to counter that you can intervene at any point you want.
The graphics are quite alright. Zooming in doesn’t cause any loss in quality but you’ll notice a decrease in framerate at times. The music suits the place you’re at and adds to the atmosphere. The text of the different characters that populate the world isn’t spoken but since most dialogues are quite boring this isn’t such a big issue.
King’s Bounty: The Legend manages to interest enough to have a mild addictive influence. Despite the little problems here and there a positive feeling remains. The game may not be a top title but it’s certainly worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the genre.