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King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Review

A prophecy fulfilled, Sir Mordred has killed King Arthur. Trouble stirs when the Lady of the Lake drags King Arthur — or whatever it is that he has become — to Avalon. Now, King Arthur torments Avalon, and the Lady of the Lake makes a bold move: resurrecting Sir Mordred so that he may fulfil his prophecy once again.

It’s an interesting premise that caught my attention right away. Although I looked forward to playing as King Arthur and charging into battle with the reputable Knights of the Round Table, I was also intrigued by playing as Sir Mordred and how that might shift the narrative.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale is a turn-based tactical RPG with a heavy focus on lore, and as such you will be listening to plenty of dialogue or reading a lot of text to further understand the lore and characters. Although it is an enjoyable experience — aside from some cringe-worthy lines by Sir Mordred that we'll get to later — it is worth noting that a lot of the impact might be lost on those that aren't well-versed in Arthurian legend, unlike me. Meeting heroes that I've heard of and experiencing the story with them is massively gratifying; my only worry was how the character of Sir Mordred would be written, seeing as he is both the antagonist of the legend and the protagonist of the game.

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Sir Mordred left me puzzled; on the one hand, I wish that his lines weren't so badly written in some aspects, as his overly aggressive nature makes him seem almost sub-human at times. On the other, it might be considered unrealistic to have one of the central antagonists of Arthurian legend become kind and well-mannered purely because he is the protagonist of the game. It might feel off-putting to see an overly kind character that should otherwise be treacherous by nature. Thankfully, King Arthur: Knight's Tale worked around this by adding a Morality System that allows you to forge Sir Mordred into the kind of king you want him to be.

Throughout your journey, you will encounter moral choices that generally present you with an ultimatum; you can choose between being a Righteous or Tyrant ruler and between being a follower of either the Old Religion or Christianity. Consequently, you will unlock certain loyalties from your followers that increase their strength in battle and — most importantly — unique characters to join you once you've garnered enough of a specific morality. This system allows you to forge Sir Mordred into the person you want to be, and play as both kind and cruel versions of him. With this, you can ensure you have numerous playthroughs that let you change who follows you into battle until the end.

My favourite part of the Morality System was unlocking numerous characters and traits according to how I'd ruled. Since I wanted to play as a Sir Mordred that followed the Old Religion but was Righteous, I was well on my path to unlock Sir Lancelot and Lady Morgana le Fay even in Act I. Aside from the characters, you can also unlock passives and items to use according to which morality you follow; it was nice to see that it wasn't only the characters that changed, but which passives I'd have, too. That said, although these moralities aren't scarce per se, it is far more difficult to work towards your religious morality in contrast to your ruling one, so make sure to pick early which religion you'll follow to make the best use of your choices.

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It isn't only your Morality Chart that affects your knights' loyalty, either, as you will be able to set court titles for them in order to raise their loyalty (aside from knights with the Mission-Conscious trait) or raise it through unique events or traits each one of them has. This was a nice system I appreciated, as the knights in my party didn't necessarily feel like NPCs, but their traits and moralities allowed me to connect to them more and made the game feel more alive.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much the Morality Chart and Loyalty actually affected gameplay. I was worried that both of these systems would be useless throughout the gameplay aspect, but I was glad to be proven wrong once again; a commonality, it seemed, in King Arthur: Knight's Tale and what I expected from it. The more loyal your Round Table knights are, the more damage and AP (Action Points) they'll have in battle; this encouraged me to stick to those that believed in what I did and forsake those that had different visions from myself. It also forced me to evaluate how I chose my party and which decisions I made before moving forward, which I sincerely appreciated.

Now onto gameplay itself, as a big portion of King Arthur: Knight's Tale will be spent in Missions and Side-Missions. Each area will have an objective that you will need to complete, while some will have an additional side objective that will grant you extra rewards should you complete them. Although these essentially boiled down to "Go to X and kill Y", it was still fun to explore the area and find new ones to progress.

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Combat is simple and everything you'd expect a turn-based tactics game to have: your characters will have AP that drains with movement and actions, along with an overwatch system and "reserve AP" button that lets your character rest to have more next turn. You'll charge into battle with an assortment of four knights of your choosing and whichever formation you want (also allowing you to use a different knight aside from Sir Mordred to explore the map, which I enjoyed doing). You'll be able to choose from four classes of knights: champion, defender, marksman, and arcanist, each with their unique abilities and passives. If two (or three, in my case) knights share a class, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll share abilities; I really liked this, as every knight felt like a unique character and not just a class. You'll unlock one of each class early on which should allow you to carry a well-rounded team into combat, and later on, you'll make allies throughout your journey by making the right decisions.

Combat isn't revolutionary in King Arthur: Knight's Tale, and that isn't a bad thing. Instead of trying to fix what isn't broken, King Arthur: Knight's Tale focuses its resources on storytelling and enjoyable combat scenarios without trying to add any new systems to an already great genre. Maps offer cover and destroyable objects that can give you an edge in battle while also having unique mechanics on some of them. Distinctive enemies, mechanics, and battlefields meant that, despite battles being pretty much the same throughout each area, they didn't necessarily feel so. 

One addition to the game I did appreciate, however, was the three-health-bar system. Each character can have up to three health bars, as every character will have Vitality and HP (Health Points), while heavily armoured ones have an armour meter as well. This encouraged charging into battle with champion knights because they had the strongest armour, all the while trying to stay behind with the squishies. Once your HP runs out, you will start taking Vitality damage, which can be grievous, as it can injure your knights by giving them ailments that give a debuff or can downright kill your allies if you're not too careful.

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I also loved the system that, if Sir Mordred can anticipate a battle, lets you explore different entry points to give you more options in combat. Once you've explored all you can, you can choose which of the entry points to use to engage in battle, or even send different knights through different entrances for unique approaches. In fact, exploration of any given place is highly rewarded in King Arthur: Knight's Tale, as the game offers you potions (consumables that heal your character's HP), gold, or weapons to aid you in battle. Even when in a pinch, finding a campsite to restore the knights' armour was highly welcome, as it felt rejuvenating to be able to enter battle confidently. 

That said, I do wish that exploring didn't feel so uncomfortable at times, as the camera angle and unclear graphics at times made it difficult for me to know where I could enter. Although you eventually get used to the camera angle (or take the alternative and zoom in to see further ahead), I still did wish that this was slightly different, although I am not too bothered by it.

The graphics of the game are decent enough, though the opening cinematic can be deceptive with how beautiful it is. Meanwhile, I was flabbergasted by the soundtrack, as I immediately fell in love with it, even at the title screen. That said, the voice acting left something to be desired, though it isn't nearly as horrible as some voiceovers I have dealt with in the past (hi My Time at Portia!), and it was something I grew accustomed to with time. Despite how horrible it might be at times, I enjoyed it enough to leave it enabled, but you can disable it through the audio sliders in the menu.

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One thing I did want to complain about heavily, however, was the game's overly long loading screens. Despite playing for plenty of hours, I can assure you that many of them were the amalgamation of the countless minutes I spent waiting for the loading screen to pass. This felt punishing and completely discouraged me from leaving a mission once I'd done something wrong, like forgetting to equip my knights with potions.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale surprised me; at several parts I expected less from the title and was pleased. That said, I do wish that the game was more forthcoming with its lore, as newcomers to Arthurian legend might be completely lost on who the knights are. Although the loading screens are frustrating and the voiceover left some to be desired, King Arthur: Knight's Tale is an enjoyable experience.

7.50/10 7½

King Arthur: Knight's Tale (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale is a great turn-based strategy game, but vastly more so for those well-versed in Arthurian legend. That said, even if you don't know much about the legend — or want to learn about it — this is a great game.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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Jbumi - 03:25pm, 14th May 2022

I'm looking forward to playing this game in a few years when I can FINALLY get my hands on a PS5!!!!

Artura Dawn
Artura Dawn - 06:55pm, 14th May 2022 Author

This is 100% understandable, I get that feeling too! Why not try one of the other releases? Although the loading screens were yawn-inducing, it seemed to work decently on Steam!

Jbumi - 10:34am, 15th May 2022

I'm stuck in my ways - I only play games on my PS.  Don't have any other systems, a PC or a smartphone.  It's ok - there are plenty of other games to keep me occupied (i.e. the upcoming release of the Shadowrun Trilogy)!!  It's a good suggestion - I'm just a knucklehead!!