A large number of games are released each year, but most are mediocre clones of each other. King’s Bounty 2 is an exception. Inspired by the swashbuckling adventures of the hero of Ukrainian mythology, the game has a refreshingly original plot and characters. This is a great title for strategy fans who want an exciting adventure with a twist.
King’s Bounty 2 seems like it’s at odds with itself, with a jumble of concepts that never quite come together. It’s an attempt to mix open-world RPGs with Might and Magic-style gameplay, but the open-world aspects subtract from the experience rather than add to it.
Despite some high moments and an improving fighting system as the game progresses, it never gels into a coherent whole, and minor frustrations don’t help things.
Knight Errant is a sequel to King’s Bounty.
You may play as one of three characters in King’s Bounty 2: a Warrior who concentrates on unit strength, a Mage who can study a broad range of spells, or a Paladin who possesses support magic.
The narrative begins in the same manner, regardless of whatever character you choose. Your character has been imprisoned after being accused of poisoning the King of Nostria, but the now-ruling prince sends you on a special assignment, giving you a second chance.
Although the narrative is the same for all three individuals, their responses differ. Unfortunately, Katherine the Mage is the only entertaining character, since she is always spewing clever one-liners and caustic remarks.
The basic framework of King’s Bounty 2 is fairly typical of the genre, with the lone hero embarking on a series of missions to solve the central mystery of who is wreaking havoc in Nostria. The narrative doesn’t do anything to capture your attention at first, and it doesn’t get much better even after 30 hours.
The concept for King’s Bounty 2 becomes clearly apparent as you go through the main story: go to an area with NPCs and load up your mission log, accomplish those tasks, and then rinse and repeat in the next region.
There are many of major and side missions in the game, but only a handful of them manage to convey compelling tales. The text is constantly dull, and a jumble of dubious voice acting just adds to the dreariness.
The way the missions in King’s Bounty 2 mix together, particularly in terms of how they’re recorded, is my greatest gripe. You may only follow one quest at a time, which will be marked on your map, but every other goal is just a simple exclamation point with no indication of whose mission it belongs to.
Unless you want to go over your quest log and compare it to your map on a regular basis, this may lead to a lot of confusion.
Getting about Nostria’s universe is likewise not as simple as it might be. Fast travel locations can be found all throughout the globe, however due to the way quests are structured, it would be preferable if you could fast travel at any time without having to go to a point.
This issue is compounded by an excruciatingly sluggish walking pace, with no way to run or do anything else. To be fair, you do have a horse that you may call at any moment, but strangely, the horse travels slower than you do while you’re in cities.
The good news is that Nostria is a stunningly beautiful environment, with a plethora of particle effects and animals strewn across the woods and hills. King’s Bounty 2 constantly impressed me with beautiful views, filthy marshes, and more, so it’s a pity that the environment and NPCs seem so lifeless.
While King’s Bounty 2’s overall structure and narrative left a lot to be desired, the game’s fighting system fared far better. Combat is a development of King’s Bounty: The Legend’s grid-based gameplay, with a lot more strategy incorporated in. Units take rounds depending on their initiative stat, and almost every unit has its own special assault.
As troops are divided into four distinct ideals: Order, Anarchy, Power, and Finesse, there is a lot of variation in terms of army composition. These ideals also correlate to moral decisions made during the game, and the higher the number of points you have in one ideal, the better the moral for that unit kinds.
A variety of magic spells are layered on top of your troops, with the option to employ one each round. Even after that, you have to consider your character’s equipment, which does not participate in combat but provides stat boosts and bonuses.
King’s Bounty 2’s fights are brutal, and the game has a steep learning curve, but it’s still a fun system that promotes tactical thinking. As you acquire more troops, the battle system expands and becomes increasingly more complicated.
However, there is some irritation in the mix, since opponents constantly feel like they have an advantage and are aware of every vulnerability in your force. There were many times when I couldn’t seem to find a method to win a fight unless I spent some time upgrading my character and army.
This leads to another of King’s Bounty 2’s major flaws, which is the actual replenishing of your army. Because the map does not indicate what type of units each recruiter has, if you wish to restore a certain unit, you’ll need to remember which recruiter has it. It’s perplexing that the map doesn’t indicate what kind of troops a recruiter has, which leads to a few instances of aimless walking about looking for the appropriate one.
The Bottom Line: King’s Bounty 2 is a sequel to the popular game King’s Bounty.
- The whole globe seems to be lush and beautiful.
- Tactical combat that becomes more complex as the game progresses
- There are many possibilities for creating your own army and tactics.
- Boring and forgettable missions that are a pain to complete
- Voice acting and animations that seem stilted and unnatural
- The terrain and goals have a frustrating lack of information.
- A crushing obstacle that may put a stop to your development
If I were to characterize King’s Bounty 2 in one word, it would be boring, and that applies to every aspect of the game. All of the many concepts don’t come together in a meaningful manner, and the intriguing fighting isn’t enough to save King’s Bounty 2 from its faults.
Fans of the series will likely find plenty to like here, but King’s Bounty 2 lacks the unique spark that makes the best RPGs so memorable.
[Note: The copy of King’s Bounty 2 used for this review was supplied by Deep Silver.]