Return of the king?
King’s Bounty 2 is by far the most difficult turn-based tactical game I have ever played in my entire life, and that’s partly why I couldn’t gel with this long-awaited sequel.
The game’s story isn’t great but it’s not terrible either. You begin by picking one of the three heroes: Aivar the Warrior, Katharine the Sorcerer, or Alisa the Paladin. Each character has their own little backstory that has led them to be found in an icy cold prison.
After a slow-going tutorial that sends you running to a merchant for a crossbow, a soldier to get your battalion, and last but not least, a horse to take on your travels, you’re kicked out into the snow to go and find the prince of the Kingdom of Nostria.
The story lost me quickly after this point. I made it to the kingdom and spoke to the prince who basically told me that the whole world was falling apart and that I’m the only idiot in the Kingdom who can fix it. Mind you, he used fancier words and sent me on my merry way to once again explore and fight my way through main quest battles that were so hard I wanted to throw my console out the window. The side quests weren’t bad, though, and they were my saving grace from insanity.
It’s a shame as I really enjoyed the variety of units I got to play with, ranging from generic foot soldiers to controlling the undead and throwing them onto the battlefield.
I enjoyed learning how best to use each unit as well as managing morale while I mixed and matched units and perks. This could make or break a team as I’d attempt to use both Anarchy units with Order units, and without the right perks, this could cause me to skip turns during battle, something I couldn’t risk doing.
While you explore the open world, you’ll come across giant yellow markers on the ground. These are the battles, and once you’ve got your courage to enter the battleground, you get one final chance to run away before accepting your fate.
King’s Bounty helps you with this by putting a lovely message at the top of the screen, that lets you know the strength of the opponent you’re about to face.
The most important parts of Kings Bounty 2 are the battles but I really struggled to get into them. The game transforms into a top-down strategy game where you travel across the terrain in turns on a hexagonal grid slapped on top of the land you were just walking on. It’s simple to use and you have the freedom to spin the camera around to spot where pesky archers or mages could be hiding.
One of my biggest problems was that my units would die. I know, right, soldiers dying in battle. How dare they? Ranged units weren’t as susceptible to death’s embrace, but the up-close and personal units were always in for a beating. Most of the time, the best way to win was to have more soldiers in a unit than the enemy had. Winning by throwing sheer numbers isn’t very satisfying, and even in the best of battles, I’d end up losing a lot of my units.
If I somehow managed to keep at least one of the unit soldiers alive I could heal the whole unit back to its max soldiers in the victory screen. This was great, however, depending on how awful I did during the battle, the amount of money I received from winning wasn’t enough to cover all of my losses. If I had lost a unit completely, I had to go and buy them again. Soldiers aren’t cheap, either.
There just wasn’t any satisfaction to winning battles, or losing, obviously. If I lost and all of my units were dead, there was no game over screen. It just said “defeat” and I was teleported to the nearest fast travel point with zero soldiers. The game doesn’t give you a second chance, so it’s brutal in that respect. Rather than scrounging around to build an army, I’d just reload an autosave and try again. And again. And again…
This is where my enjoyment of the side quests came into play as many of them were simple and fun to complete and they always paid hard cash money, and that meant I could keep buying soldiers. The side quests were also necessary to level up the units.
There’s a fun but difficult tactical game hidden inside this lacklustre RPG. The story was wasted by being broken up by difficult to beat battles, and it didn’t take long for me to just blank the narrative. I spent several hours on one battle just to get 2000 gold and a pair of gloves that I didn’t even use, and for what? Just to be told to go and fight another tedious battle.
Overall, King’s Bounty 2 was not for me. It had its moments like the occasional exciting side quest or the battle mechanics which were fun to use even if I wasn’t very good at them, but the learning curve of this tactical game was too steep for me and the story wasn’t there to back up my hours of the anger of trying to complete it. There is enjoyment in playing but for me, it didn’t feel worth it and by the end of this review I was ready to throw in the towel for good.
King's Bounty 2 PS4, PS5 Review
- Overall - Not Bad - 5/105/10
King’s Bounty 2 is a challenging turn-based game with a fantasy world that aches to be explored. It has the potential to be an amazing game but the disjointed story, wasted RPG mechanics, and frustratingly difficult battles hold it back.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS4.