The title of KingsRoad suggests epicness and glory, not to mention an exciting reference to everyone’s favourite page-to-screen show, Game of Thrones, although whether that is intentional is neither confirmed, nor important really. Regardless, you are greeted with a story that does indeed imply greatness, and if you like heroes, princesses and saving kingdoms, you will no doubt be pleased with this one.
You start with a nice amble down the road, with tooltips guiding you along your path, teaching you the game’s features and helping you with your first simple encounters. The brightly coloured, top-down view and click-to-move style make it very accessible and easy to play; if you have had the fortune of trying Path of Exile then you will most likely draw similarities between the two. KingsRoad though, is notably more cheerful and cartoony, making it a little more visually appealing and somewhat less taxing on those baby blues to play than the other.
You are introduced to combat quickly, but this is not a bad thing as the simplicity of the system makes it a breeze to ease into. A simple click on your foes will cause your hero to bust a move and kick some ass, although there is no auto-attack, so you will need to keep clicking away to keep that sword a’swinging. Although this can get a little repetitive to begin with and your little fingers might find themselves with a serious case of RSI, have no fear as you’ll soon be able to add in some abilities to take the pressure off and mix it up a little.
After this little intro to the game you will find yourself at your home base, where you can choose your class; currently you can pick from Archer, Knight or Wizard. Here’s where a quirky feature has been thrown in: you can change class whenever you like, levelling each one separately. So if you get to level 11 and decide Knights are so last season or whatever, you can switch over to one of the other classes and start again at level 1. It definitely adds that extra little spice to the game, tempting you to try something else if you become jaded rather than hanging up the ol’ warhammer altogether.
You might be concerned at this point about how going back to level 1 would work, and whether that would mean taking on enemies way out of your league. Well this is where another of the features comes into play, making this a non-issue. Quests are based inside maps that you’ll need to enter to complete (much like instanced dungeons in other MMOs) and are pretty linear. Once you complete the quest set in that particular map, it then becomes open for you to return to at will. This means you can take your lowbie back to that hunting trail and level her up to your heart’s content. Of course this also give you the opportunity to pick up additional loot, which can be used for all sorts of neat things.
Repeating these maps isn’t just for the loot and XP hungry though, as going back and completing them again gains you mastery and unlocks new mastery levels, as well as one of the in-game currencies, gems. The other currency is gold, which drops from those pesky enemies and goes towards purchasing potions, upgrades and food from the town vendors. Gems are spent on “premium items and upgrades” and are often, to be honest, the most useful currency.
You will need gems for all sorts of things: to open shiny chests you may discover on your adventures, to buy special items and potions that enhance your hero’s performance and much, much more. Annoyingly though, they are fairly difficult to come across, unless, of course, you buy them with real money, and so the microtransactions begin. To be fair, in a free-to-play game like this, that has obviously been well designed and made available to the public at no initial cost, money has to be made somehow, and the game can easily be enjoyed without these extra purchases. However, when you only start with a small inventory and you find it filling up rather quickly, with no option for expansion except to get you some of them there gems, it does become a bit frustrating.
Gems can also be used to purchase extra skill points, letting you unlock new abilities and passives; in fact nearly everything with a restriction can be unlocked with the aid of one of those little blue shiny gems. The abilities and skills grant you new spells and bonuses, giving you more of an edge in combat, and being able to buy them early with real cash could be seen as pay-to-win, especially when you note that this is can be a multiplayer game. However, if you really aren’t bothered about others potentially being a lot stronger than you, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
You’ll unlock skill points as you level anyway and these can be spent on those aforementioned abilities and passives. Abilities are new moves that are added to your taskbar, like cleave or maim and can be triggered by pressing the corresponding key to release their power. Passives on the other hand, are things like extra health, or increasing your damage percentage. There are plenty of options to choose from and it is obviously a well thought out improvement system, meaning you can tailor your class as you see fit.
As a whole the game is the result of some unmistakable forethought and hard work, making for a well-polished end product, which is particularly impressive considering it is still in Beta. All the features combine to make a game that is easy to pick up, visually pleasant, and the ambient sounds and music create a fairly effortless timesink. KingsRoad might not be revolutionary, but for something that runs in your browser is it quite satisfactory indeed.