STAFF REVIEW of King Arthur: Knight's Tale (Xbox One)

Monday, March 4, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

King Arthur: Knight's Tale Box art Having after launched on PC in 2020 after a successful Kickstarter, King Arthur: Knight's Tale garnered a fanbase with its tactical RPG gameplay and journey into dark Arthurian legend. A few short years later and now console players also have the opportunity to dive into this dark and grim story set in Camelot, developed by NeocoreGames. If you’re a fan of XCOM-like strategic gameplay elements but enjoy a dark narrative and a medieval setting, you’re not going to be disappointed.

While we all may know the legendary tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, NeocoreGames has taken the classic tale and given it quite a unique spin, one that is dark, morbid and treacherous. You are Sir Mordred, the black knight from previous tales and nemesis of King Arthur. Using a dark power to invade the lands, you and King Arthur finally have a showdown to the death. You kill King Arthur, but in his last breath, he ends up killing you as well. You both died, yet you both somehow live.

You have both risen from the afterlife. You’re awoken by The Lady of the Lake, resurrecting you and telling you that you need to finish your journey to destroy King Arthur, as he’s now too resurrected but corrupt with evil. It won’t be easy though, as you’re going to have to fight through an army of corrupted denizens in the lands of Avalon. Almost as if the good versus evil roles have reversed, you take on this adventure to find a slay Arthur.

Obviously a drastic shift in the traditional Arthurian legend we know, this storyline had me hooked from the opening moments and constantly wanting to find out more. You won’t be able to fight the hordes of undead armies and monsters alone though, finding other Knights of the Round Table along the way, having them join your side in trying to repel the evil darkness besetting Camelot.

Characters are introduced along the journey and in a natural way. How you interact with them will determine a number of outcomes later on as there’s also a morality chart that you need to be cognizant of, as some knights may approve certain choices, but frown upon others. They all have an interesting background and reason for joining, playing into the larger overall narrative naturally without feeling forced. Do you choose to help someone’s quest for redemption, or ignore another’s brutality all to keep their allegiance? And just because you manage to complete the campaign doesn’t mean the game ends, as an endgame unlocks that offers new extremely challenging quests and boss fights.

If you’ve previously played on PC and wondering what’s been changed or improved for the console version, the list may not be terribly long, but it’s been done well. First, you’re given two graphical options to choose from; Quality that gives 4K resolution or Performance which instead gives a smoother framerate. There is a local PVP option if you want to challenge a friend head on, of course Xbox achievements to unlock, and controller support, obviously. I’ll admit, many games that get console ports from PC don’t always have a great controller layout or scheme, so I was unsure what to expect here. Thankfully, NeocoreGames have put in the work to make the controller feel natural for the most part, aside from a few finicky menus.

The core gameplay for King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a tactical turn based RPG, so if you’re a fan of games like XCOM, Gears Tactics and countless others, you’ll have an idea of what to expect for the most part. Careful planning and strategies will be needed if you want to survive each battle, as death can be permanent for your knights if you’re not wary. You’ll also have aspects of hero management and the rebuilding of Camelot. There’s a number of different difficulty options, from Easy to Hard, and in the later chapters I found the default Normal to be quite a challenge if you don’t have an ideal party setup or a sound plan going into battle.

Camelot will play as your central hub after your opening mission. This is also where you’ll need to do some building management, deciding what to upgrade and when. You not only want to find and defeat Arthur, but restore Camelot to its former glory as well. This takes resources, which you’ll gather from completing missions, exploring the maps and finding treasure chests. Unlocking and upgrading facilities will allow you to purchase new gear, heal knights, set titles for bonuses and more. It’s actually quite more involved than I expected, as I was always trying to figure out the next best upgrade. Do I want an extra slot in the hospice to heal my knights when they become injured, or add another slot where my unused knights can earn XP as well? Early on you’ll struggle to figure out what best to upgrade, though you’ll steadily unlock more as you progress through the campaign.

On the overworld map is where you’ll choose which mission you want to test yourself with, able to see its objectives or potentially required knights to proceed. Side missions will earn you extra rewards, but also carry risks, as your knights can become critically injured, or even permanently die on certain difficulties, so there’s always a risk versus reward component in play when even choosing to do a side quest or not.

When gathering your knights for a mission and battles, you can take four into battle. Even choosing which knights is a strategic choice, as there are different classes you need to take into account as well. With six different classes, you’re generally going to want a balanced team, but how you choose to do so is up to you. Each character levels up individually, has skills to unlock, and can wear upgraded gear, but the downside is that they can also get critically injured or even permanently die depending on your difficulty option, so rotating new party members in while others rest and recover is generally wise. Loyalty also plays a large factor, as decisions you make will move a marker on the morality chart, and knights that don’t align with your views may decide to not agree or follow, or worse, stand against you. The main opposite views are Righteousness versus Tyranny, but there’s also Old Faith versus Christianity choices as well.

Combat is quite strategic, playing out on a grid and turn based. Here you’ll get to decide where to move each of your knights, what skills to use and develop your plan of attack. You’ll need to use AP (action points) to move and use abilities, and in the beginning you can generally move and attack once, but it becomes more strategic as you unlock more characters and learn more intricacies. There’s traps to keep an eye out for, and if you decide to use your AP for Overwatch protection instead, that’s a perfectly viable option as well which I found worked quite well.

Archers will eventually unlock skills to be more effective, shoot fire or poison arrows, magic users can hurl fireballs across a huge distance, and your knights can generally take a good beating with their heavy armor. How you blend these classes together and proper placement will make a huge difference in your success or failure. Gear can be upgraded with sigils, ranging in quality and stats. You’re able to sort it to only show what each character can use, and can upgrade your armor, weapons, ring and amulet. While the armor upgrades don’t change how you physically appear, each decent upgrade can make a substantial difference in your success. Upgrading buildings in Camelot can even offer new gear to purchase once you start to come across more gold. Explore each map thoroughly though, as campfires are ever important to restore your health or armor, but you'll need to choose wisely.

The dark, bleakness and constant death is a constant. Avalon’s backgrounds are quite detailed and ruins you come by will be crumbled. The color pallet is dark and it gives an uneasy feeling around every corner. Character designs are done quite well also, with your knights appearing as walking tanks in their medieval armor. The grim visuals are accompanied by a similar soundtrack that is haunting at times though unmemorable, and the voice actors all did quite a good job with believable performances.

King Arthur: Knight's Tale does a fantastic job at taking turn based tactical gameplay from titles we love and adding its own twists and dark setting. Strategic combat, moral choices, and a compelling narrative makes it difficult to put down. While it can be brutally challenging at times, even on the easier difficulties, turn based tactical combat is front and center but can feel a bit repetitive after a few dozen missions. A fresh take on Arthurian legend, King Arthur: Knight's Tale offers a memorable journey across Avalon as you try to rebuild Camelot and seek vengeance.

**King Arthur: Knight's Tale was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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