A dozen years have passed since the “Russian gaming industry” was buried. I will definitely not conduct a debriefing and identify the causes of the accident in this material. However, it is important to remind, because rising from the ashes is not an easy task.
So, King’s Bounty II is already the second attempt to rethink one of the most legendary games of 1990. KB is the father of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. Surprisingly, this fact still eludes many for many, despite our audience’s love for the previous iteration of KB (Legend of a Knight (2008), Princess in Armor (2009), Crossroads of Worlds (2010)) from Katauri Interactive.
Perhaps, we should say right away that the number in the title does not hint at us for a continuation – for the third time it would be strange to call the game simply “King’s Bounty” … and everyone is already confused!
I myself took on a new look and a change of emphasis with great interest. The fabulous atmosphere of past games, coupled with an abundance of humor in the dialogues, of course, I liked. But the endless add-ons, bringing no new ideas, eventually stumped the series.
With new forces
King’s Bounty II immediately shows the player that there will be plenty of changes. The urge to joke is rare here. The slightly cartoonish graphic style has been replaced by a very realistic one. The camera descended from heaven to earth, perched behind the hero’s back.
There are still three protagonists. A warrior primarily relies on the strength of the army. The mage, on the other hand, compensates for the meager military talents with spell power. And the paladin is, in fact, a cross between these classes. Therefore, I go through the games of the series as a paladin, I did not change traditions this time either.
Heroes now differ not only in their talents, but also in their characters. Each of them actively responds to events and communicates with others in their own manner. The paladin, for example, is distinguished by a certain degree of naivety and a desire for higher ideals.
A lot of game mechanics revolve around the idea with the so-called tricks. There are 4 of them – order, anarchy, strength and skill. Each focus has a scale, the accumulation of which opens up access to more powerful talents in the tree. Many quests, in turn, offer several solutions, according to one of these focuses. At the school of magicians, a student asks us to fake grades in a journal. We can help him (get anarchy points) or tell the professor about the student’s plans (get order points).
Only ghouls go into battle …
The combat system also relies partly on focuses. Creatures are divided into 4 conditional factions. The order went to the brave knights and magicians, under the banner of anarchy, a combined hodgepodge of undead and robbers, strength unites animals and gnomes, and skill consists of different elementals and similar creatures.We no longer lead an armada of thousands of devils and hundreds of dragons into battle. The average squad in King’s Bounty 2 consists of 5-10 creatures. At first, such a prospect is boring, but later this feature is revealed from a very interesting side. The battles in the game have become very positional. If there is an enemy squad in an adjacent cell, we can no longer calmly change our position, since almost all creatures have a zone of control. In a situation where our squad is in the vicinity of 2 enemy units, when trying to move to a new position, it will first receive a blow from EACH squad in the neighborhood, and only then will move … if by that time there will be someone.
Terrain matters – archers on a hill gain an advantage, and obstacles on the field help to hide from the line of sight of the shooters. The battles themselves are reminiscent of puzzles, where you need to choose the right composition of the troops, arrange them favorably on the battlefield and choose the winning tactics. Thoughtlessly sending troops forward will not work here.
At first, such features are annoying and seem overly hardcore – I have lost a whole squad more than once, simply forgetting about the zone of control. But, after a period of adaptation, the depth of the battle begins to really please. Due to the small number of units in the squad, you really feel very strongly the loss of each fighter. Conversely, a battered unit can inflict fatal damage on a high-level enemy unit, killing one of two creatures in it. Such a move can change the outcome of the battle.
Walks in Nostria
Outside of combat, King’s Bounty II wants to feel like a full-fledged modern RPG. Here and side quests, and the study of large locations in search of resources with artifacts, and even generously scattered here and there notes with the lore of the game world.
The story, even if it does not shine with genius, is logical and able to interest. The main thing is not to lose the narrative thread, because game designers now and then snatch you out of the storyline and throw you into the open world to fill experience in side missions. After all, the complexity of storyline battles often does not allow you to move on without accumulating experience for a couple of upgrades.
The artists did a great job – the design of the locations is impressive, and you want to believe in this world. But the budget of the project in some places does not allow one to be deceived. I want to compare the whole world of the game with Pinocchio – he really wants to be alive, feels like that and has great ambitions. However, it looks very wooden from the outside. Technological flaws in the wagon, and interactivity in the world at least – you will stumble over a basin tightly bolted to the floor, along the way for the hundredth time listening to the same dialogue without facial expressions and a hint of a mockup of two NPCs who repeat it in a circle every time you are again you pass by (even if you walked away literally 200 meters and returned after 2 minutes).
Ever since the first presentations, I want to be outraged by the interface.It can’t be so, in fact.
You can read about the speed of the character’s movement in ten more reviews of other publications, therefore I do not want to focus on this. Moreover, this problem, surprisingly, did not really bother me personally. Still, I want to plunge into the world, even if it is difficult.
You want to love King’s Bounty II, but you have to do it in spite of it. The game has potential, but requires motivation from the player. The effort pays off, though, and KB II has a lot to offer. Let’s hope that the return of the famous tactical series will not be limited to one game.