We have another review for Jay Barnson's indie humorous dungeon crawl romp, Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon, coming from GameSpot, and it's apparent that the writer wasn't particularly impressed with the title, with criticism going to its story, interface, graphics and mechanics, and awards it a 6.0/10.
The most frustrating aspect of Frayed Knights is its endurance system. Endurance governs all of your actions in combat: attacks, defending, and casting spells. And it doesn't take more than one or two encounters before you run out of endurance. You can rest while exploring, but as you spend more time resting in anything besides a proper bed, your maximum endurance decreases. You can also "take a breather" during combat, skipping a turn and gaining a little endurance. Much of the game becomes an exercise in managing endurance, especially for your spellcasters, as magic requires more endurance than melee attacks. This becomes quite tiresome, especially as higher-level spells require more endurance. You might find yourself "taking a breather" several times during combat, casting a sleep spell and regaining endurance while a foe snores. This artificially extends combat, taking time away from actually playing the game. And the longer you go without proper bed rest, the less endurance you're able to regain.
Frayed Knights does do a couple of things, besides humor, that are interesting. It has a minigame for disarming traps and opening locks. Dirk, your thief, can use 10-foot poles, acid, lock picks, and other items to solve traps. The minigame isn't very involved; you pick the items you want to use and apply them to the lock or trap. But it's more interesting than most lock-picking systems, if not as fun or challenging as the system in Two Worlds II. When picking a lock, you use a combination of items rather than just a lock pick. Some of these objects work better than others, and the fun comes from experimenting with them and seeing what works and what doesn't.
Frayed Knights isn't as good as classic first-person dungeon crawlers, such as Dungeon Master, but it provides a great amount of challenge. And for a few hours, it shows that you don't need state-of-the-art visuals or multiplayer to make an interesting and fun RPG. But don't into the game expecting a smooth, easy experience: Frayed Knights' hard-to-use menus and the constant management of endurance can make the game an occasional chore.