King's Bounty: The Legend Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:1C Company
Developer:Katauri Interactive
Release Date:2008-04-25
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Lasting Value

King's Bounty is huge. One time through the adventure will easily consume 60 - 100 hours of your time, and that's just once. While perhaps not matching some of the all time greats (such as Baldur's Gate II) in time consumption, it is still a major accomplishment in single player games. The diversity with its landscapes and creatures never gets stale.

As for replayability? The game has been out in Europe and Russia for several months already, and the localized North American release has been updated with the thoughtful changes that have so greatly balanced the classes to an individual play experience well worth replaying - at least 1 or 2 additional times. As each class plays fundamentally differently and the game's creature and spell system is nearly completely randomized, it virtually guarantees a different experience replaying at least once as another class. With we'll say at minimum 40+ hours for an experienced gamer to go through it a second time, there's potential for significant amount of replayability for this type of game. Still, it is single-player only and the quests are always the same, making the overall experience a 2nd and 3rd time somewhat less about that aspect and more about combat and building your character and his army, which is the main element anyway. There is also a high score board for personal or bragging rights; though a nice and ultimately desired touch, I can only see those with the much more free time than I have using this to any extent.

Though King's Bounty doesn't necessarily lend itself to typical multiplayer turn-based gameplay like hot-seat and e-mail games -- turn-based only applies to combat here -- there are some possibilities for extending the game in a unique and fun way. Something like a "Hero Arena" could allow two players to choose a class, distribute a set number of attribute points, hand-pick their army from the same limited selection of random monsters using a balanced pre-set number of leadership points to purchase them, then select a limited number of spells and a few extra skills to upgrade in the tree of their choosing, and then go at it. Best two of three rounds wins the match using the same army, and perhaps to the victor goes some sort of prestige points with the possibility of making it a ladder-based system. Just a suggestion!

Documentation

I found the manual to be sufficient to teach me a few things I would normally be oblivious to about leadership and rage, but also minimal with respect to how to actually go through a combat. That part of the game was more of a hands on approach during the useful tutorial but will be old hat anyway to fans of the HOMM series and in any case is not difficult to figure out. I'll actually be waiting for the fan-made Russian manual to be translated into full English to get the most out of future play throughs.

Summary

Very good games (especially without high marketing budgets) deserve to be praised, so please consider my meager (ahem) review an attempt at a trumpeted call through the winding streets of your village about a game that deserves more recognition. Now, if you're still reading and haven't already bought it, go out immediately and show your support to the developers for this great piece of software. Thanks especially to Katauri Interactive, but also to 1C Publishing and Atari. This is one title where sequels and expansions are very welcome.