Portal Knights is an action-RPG developed by Keen Games with 505 Games handling publishing. The game has been available in Early Access on Steam since early 2016 and moved into full release at the end of April 2017. The long period in Early Access allowed the developers to shape the game with input from the community. Now the game has come to console for the first time.
It impossible not to think of Minecraft when you first see Portal Knights. The game uses blocks to build its worlds and many of the features of the game are very similar. There’s a lot more here though than just another Minecraft clone and the game adds in plenty of its own unique features.
Your first job in Portal Knights is to create yourself a character. This is a simple process with just a few steps needed. After choosing your gender there is a choice of three classes – Warrior, Ranger and Mage. You can also customise the hair, beard, ears, eyes, mouth, voice and name of your character.
Watch the Portal Knights launch trailer below:
The Warrior is a melee class that specialises in hand-to-hand combat with swords, axes and hammers. A Warrior can shout to buff friends or weaken foes. Warriors also get a starting boost to health and melee damage. The Ranger is a ranged class that specialises in bows and bombs. A Ranger benefits from increased movement and higher ranged damage. Finally the Mage is the caster class that uses wands, staffs and spells. Mages get boosts to mana and spell damage.
New characters start at level 1 and you get 5 character slots to fill. This allows you to have multiple characters on the go so you can try out different classes and builds. Many players who have played similar games will know what they want right away. I started off with a Warrior which is my favourite class.
When you play Portal Knights the game is online by default but there is also the option to play offline if you prefer. You can play on the same console with a friend or co-op online with up to 3 other players. To get going you can join the universe of another player or create your own. Creating a universe is extremely simple, all you need is a name and to decide if you want a small or large world.
There’s a simple backstory to the game that involves a big cataclysmic event called The Fracture. The result of this is that the world has been split up into many individual islands. The islands are procedurally generated which means they are randomly created each time you play. This keeps things interesting as you never know what to expect. Your character begins each island on a landing pad and then it’s completely up to you what happens next. You have a variety of options to keep you busy. These include, exploring, fighting, mining, building and crafting.
The idea is that you spend time on each island doing the various tasks available to you. Your goal might be to get through as many islands as possible or just to pick an island and build your dream home. Whichever choice you make you’ll gain experience as you play which allows you to level up your character. This makes your character stronger and grants you points to spread across your various stats – Constitution, Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Wisdom and Intellect. At set levels you can choose new abilities to improve your character.
The action is viewed from a third-person perspective but you can also click the right stick to toggle to a first-person view. The movement controls are easy to master. Left stick moves your character while right stick lets you look around, A button jumps and X button is use/interact. Combat is also simple with Right Trigger to attack and Left Trigger to lock-on to an enemy. When locked to an enemy you can use the A button to dodge out of the way of incoming attacks. With a little practice you can fight enemies without taking damage.
Pressing the Y button takes you to your inventory where you can manage the items in your possession. Items you need to use can be assinged to your actionbar with the first four items accessible via the D-Pad. The shoulder buttons can be used to select other items in your actionbar allowing you to use them. As well as your inventory pressing Y gets you access to your attributes and talents, your gear, a map and crafting recipies. Each character can wear armour for their head, torso, arms and legs. You can also equip capes and rings as well as vanity items.
Crafting is one of the biggest parts of Portal Knights. Everything you mine or kill gives you resources or loot. These can be used to build your own structures or combined via a crafting table to create new items. Chopping down a few trees gives you the wood you need to build a crafting table to get started.
There are loads of different things you can make including armour, tools, weapons and consumables. The crafting interface is a bit cumbersome and even after many hours of play I still find myself hitting the wrong buttons. One of the main items you need to find on each island are portal shards. These are combined to make portal stones that can be used to activate the portals. Once active you can use a portal to move to another island.
Initially the combat is frustrating until you begin to improve your character and gear. Take on too many enemies and you’ll die a quick death. Fortunately there is little penalty other than losing a few coins. You instantly respawn back at the landing pad ready to go again.
At set levels you come up against the Portal Guardians. There are three of these bosses in the game that must be defeated. Beating them gives a chance of dropping a relic recipe that gives you access to harder versions of the bosses. These really require a group to take down.
Portal Knights is a great sandbox game that provides players with hours of fun. It’s more suited to younger players, particularly those with plenty of imagination, but there is enough to keep creative adults entertained as well. The game is fun alone but even better with friends. If you enjoyed Minecraft and fancy something similar then Portal Knights is a fantastic choice.
Portal Knights was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Keen Games Release Date: May 19, 2017 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also On: PS4, PC