Review: Portal Knights (PS4)

Review: Portal Knights (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Portal Knights
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (1.9 GB)
Release Date: Portal Knights
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Keen Games
Original MSRP: $19.99 (US), €19.99 (EU), £15.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Since Minecraft came out and tasked players with mining and crafting in a very blocky world there have been several like it, all with varying degrees of success.

However, Portal Knights doesn’t want you to sit around with nothing to do, you have a quest and events to take care of.

Gameplay:
A lot can be said with a game’s name and Portal Knights is no exception. You travel through portals to new lands in search of ingredients and things to craft into armor, weapons, and an assortment of other items to use in building a home and improving your gear.

You begin by creating your character, picking their hair color, type of eyes, gender, and one or two other things.

The important choice comes in the type of weapon they have. While they can equip and use any other weapon, their skills are geared toward your original choice.

You can choose between a Warrior that wields swords or axes for some melee combat, a Ranger who uses a bow and throws bombs for the long-range attacks, and finally the Mage who specializes in wands and staffs and has access to a variety of spells.

Each one will need to build up their primary attributes like agility and dexterity for the Ranger, wisdom and intelligence for the Mage, and a strong constitution and strength for the Warrior. You can improve the other abilities but the game isn’t all that keen on you using the other weapons. It even has a “not permitted” sign stamped on each one in the menu.

My youngest daughter has happily disregarded those rules and now equipped almost every weapon type filling her action bar situated along the bottom of the screen. I put an assortment of things in mine, like health potions, sharpening stones, a torch, compass, and more.

The first four slots are assigned to your directional pad, meaning you can take a quick swig of a potion or switch back to your crossbow if you take some damage or spot an enemy closing in.

The enemy variety is excellent and each one has an attack pattern that must be learned. My daughter has figured out to either keep moving and dodging while shooting whatever weapon she has equipped or running and hiding and letting daddy kill’em.

In the first world you are in relative safety, aside from the large fractures that have ripped through it, which coincidently explains why the map is sometimes so bizarre with gaping holes and floating islands in the sky. There are a few enemies lurking in the grass and flying around but they only attack if provoked.

When the sun goes down a few more enemies appear and these do attack if you get close enough. Oh, and their heads are on fire, almost forgot to mention that. These are the Hollow Knights and appear in various forms during the game. Usually not too much trouble on their own but mingle them in with some huge ogres and skeletons and you have a big fight on your hands.

… I was going to bleed the land dry of resources …
The long-range characters are better at picking an enemy off from a distance or luring it away from a pack for an easier kill, which makes them ideal for new players. Getting new and better gear is also a must, but you often have to venture deep into treacherous lands to mine and forage for the right ingredients.

Once you have upgraded your workbench and drafting tables you can make a proper homestead among other things. Gather a ton of resources from several different portal worlds and make sure to plant some things in your home world. It’s good being sustainable.

You also have to find some recipes. I made a bookshelf and put some of the rare ones in it for my when daughter comes to visit. Depending on what and how much you are crafting it can take a long while to make. Enough stone bricks to build a nice extension on the house took about a minute.

Some furniture is purely decorative. You cannot sit in the chairs or lie in the bed, for example. You can, however, fill wardrobes, shelves, and chests with anything you desire and even place some things on your table, like a nice candle.

What appears on the shelf sadly does not represent what you placed when looking at the unit. It only has a full or empty state, meaning you have to remember or examine the unit to see what it contains.

On one world, I dug a small room into the side of a cliff and installed a workbench and chest for I was going to bleed the land dry of resources. I didn’t want it to be my new home, an option you always have on the world select screen, but it was a good place to retreat into, instead of constantly traveling back and forth to my first world.

I have only ventured to half of the locations and have much more to do. In this save slot I have spent around twenty-two hours building a massive castle with a bridge and dungeon and created some awesome weapons and armor, heck, I even made a hockey mask.

For some bizarre reason, the touch pad is not used, not even to access the inventory. You can change the controls in the Options menu but I would advise not binding the touch pad to anything as it doesn’t seem to work at all.

… This game puts others like it to shame …
Some players will be pleased to know you can change the perspective to both the first and third-person views with the press of an analog stick. I normally prefer the third-person view, especially when in combat, but the other option is handy when building or mining.

I had a few issues when trying to swap my character’s hat for the mining helmet. After the first instance, it never appeared as the helmet, even when switched back and forth, hiding it from view so you can admire the head of your character and still keep the effects of the headgear.

It was only when I placed the helmet in the vanity section did it appear correctly. This section is for all of the people who prefer the aesthetic over the function and it is a welcome addition. Another decorative thing is the pets, apart from occasionally obstructing my view they are some of the best things about the game, according to my daughter.

I wish they served a purpose or helped in a fight but they just follow you around looking adorable to kids. If only the frog allowed you to breathe underwater for longer and the owl sensed valuables close-by.

Visuals:
One thing that instantly struck me about Portal Knights is how good it looks. This game puts others like it to shame while using the same basic principles and logic to create worlds that seem recognizable in their creation. Any players of the other games in this same genre will instantly feel right at home, but a better home with fancier graphics.

Only the worlds are made up of blocks, everything else has a more rounded approach, normal characters, enemies, and even trees. Water has a transparent blocky look but acts in a more believable way than similar games.

My father-in-law had a quick go and hurled my thirty water-bombs at my daughter’s character. The liquid filled a small grass area much to everyone’s delight as they splashed about.

… play local split-screen co-op or jump online with three other friends …
When you first appear in some of the locations it can be a wondrous sight, each one with different seasons or styles and all featuring a day and night cycle. Some have small villages or open plains and even some have terrifyingly deep lakes. This is why I always have a large amount of dirt, so I can look down and build a tower beneath my feet and quickly rise out of the water, or simply build a bridge across.

We have all been distracted by the sights or battling an enemy, only to fall into an obscured fracture and to our deaths. The land, or lack of it can be troublesome on occasion. Fear not because a few measly coins is all that it costs for you to automatically appear back on the landing pad.

I have noticed one glitch in the inventory menus. On some random occasions a few of the images are replaced with what looks like a placeholder graphic. It only needs a switch to another screen and back for the correct images to return, but it is off-putting.

Audio:
Another great thing about the game is the music. It is, at times, subtle and soothing with a graceful elegance, then tense and fraught with danger when encountering a large boss. Sound effects are good, from the chink and swoosh of a sword to the thud of a slingshot.

There is no speech but you will hear a little grunt when you dodge a locked-on enemy and the nice villagers and traders you meet have a strange but pleasant garbled language.

Online/Multiplayer:
You can play local split-screen co-op or jump online with three other friends. As you might have guessed from the gameplay section, I have played a lot of this game in the split-screen mode with my youngest daughter, Emily.

It works really well and I haven’t noticed any issues in this mode. You can drop items for one another and use each other’s workstations.

Sadly, you cannot revive one another and each time someone dies, they return to the landing pad. This can be annoying if you are desperate to help out the other player who is down in the depths of a dungeon on the other side of the map.

Conclusion:
Portal Knights is fun and entertaining for the whole family. It helped my daughter learn about inventory management, a somewhat logical crafting mechanic, lock-on combat and dodging attacks, and running away to let daddy fight the naughty monsters.

This is my favorite game in this rapidly growing genre. It has excellent controls, great graphics, and a superb co-op element that I find almost impossible to fault. It will take you ages to get through this game, especially if you are like me and end up spending most of the time building an awesome castle.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • Makai

    I just don’t care much for the Sky Islands thing. The idea that I can’t dig tunnel networks or anything really bugs me. If I had friends to play with I’d give it a shot, but otherwise I think I’ll stick to Dragon Quest Builders and Minecraft. I just wasn’t as impressed with the graphics as you were, and I don’t have kids so.. I dunno the demo just didn’t do it for me. Maybe they should have given me the first 2 or 3 islands. lol