King's Bounty: Armored Princess Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:1C Company
Developer:Katauri Interactive
Release Date:2009-11-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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Armored Princess is a tactical turn-based RPG sequel of sorts to King's Bounty: The Legend, released just over a year ago. GameBanshee gave the original a 9.3 in a thorough review, so how does Armored Princess fare? While it uses the same engine, many of the same monsters, and much of the same music, Armored Princess is still a full-length game with an original story and innumerable small and medium-sized changes since its predecessor. Fortunately, they're nearly all for the better, making Armored Princess well worth your time and this series one that you shouldn't miss.

Gameplay

This being kind of like King's Bounty 1.5, should you consider Armored Princess if you haven't played the original? I'd recommend against it. The first one was a brilliant game overall, takes longer to ramp up in difficulty, and is slightly longer. Armored Princess is about the same difficulty but its gameplay, questing, and overall execution is more streamlined and polished, making it a fantastic game to play when you're ready for more, but not as good of a series starter due to its faster ramp up in difficulty. In addition, you're probably less likely to want to play the original after having played this and getting used to its small but noticeable improvements.

The essence of the gameplay in any King's Bounty is threefold: combat, exploration, and character progression, all of which are synergistic. Combat (for experience points to level your character) and exploration (questing and pickups) help character progression in tangible ways. Character progression and combat help exploration making it less dangerous and... what's left? Oh yes, exploration and character progression certainly help minimize losses in combat!

In Armored Princess, you'll take your heroine named Amelie into a strange new land, and wander (on foot, or flying mount, or ship) over many different unlockable islands in the search of the lost stones of hope. Eventually there's an overarching threat you'll have to deal with but I'll its unfolding a secret.

Character Progression

What's new with character progression? I'll start by stating what hasn't changed. You still have three "classes" to choose from at the beginning of the game: Amelie can become a warrior, paladin, or mage. They all play differently from one another (providing for some great replayability on top of the already randomized nature of the entire experience - more on that later), and roughly similar to how they played in KB:tL.

The main differences are with how their skill trees are laid out. Improvements, balance tweaks, and new skills are found throughout each of the trees, making this part of the game seem sufficiently new to the seasoned King's Bounty player. This time it will take you right to the end of the game to become powered up in your skill trees. In addition, on level up, the player no longer receives any main stat point bonuses such as Attack, Defense, or Intelligence, as these are all found from map locations and skill upgrades. Instead, on level up the player always gets a steady leadership bonus and a circulating assortment of runes (required to buy skills) depending on their class.

Exploration

Exploration is one of the other reasons this game is so addictive. On every path, grave, tree, and well-hidden nook and cranny you'll find all the items to help increase your character's power: leadership flags to be able to recruit more creatures, rare runes for buying skills, crystals for scribing and upgrading spells, money for buying items and creatures and spells, spell scrolls (all characters can and should still use magic), and new to this game, heavily guarded navigation charts which open up distant islands.