Review: For The King – Nintendo Switch (8.0/10)

Platform: Nintendo SwitchGenre: Strategy RPGNo. of players: 1 - 3
File size: 999 MBDeveloper: IronOak Games Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: May 9, 2019 May 9, 2019
Buy at PlayasiaBuy at Playasia
Price eShop:$24.99 USD / $31.49 CAD£19.99 / €24.99 EUR
Review by Michael

Developed by Vancouver-based IronOak Games, For The King is a turn-based role-playing game that mixes roguelike and boardgame into a unique and challenging gameplay experience. Initially, it was designed as a boardgame but for its release on PC, the developer added procedural worlds, RPG combat, and roguelike elements. For The King is now also available for Nintendo Switch and other consoles. For this review, I took a look at the Switch version of the game.

Story

For The King Nintendo Switch

For The King takes place in the land of Fahrul where king Bronner has been murdered by an unknown assailant. Queen Rosomon’s last hope now lies in the citizens of Fahrul to end the outbreak of chaos and the doom of the once peaceful land. Put yourself in the shoes of three warriors to fight against the evil forces that are threatening the kingdom.

For The King includes the main game as well as the expansion packs “Frost Adventure”, “Into the Deep”, “Dungeon Crawl”, “Hildebrand’ts Cellar” and “Gold Rush”. The main campaign tells the story of the the king’s murder while the other campaigns delve deeper into the world and secrets of Fahrul. The narrative follows the basic good versus evil pattern with concentration on a diverse cast of evil enemies.

Gameplay

When you start the game, you can choose the campaign you want to play. Here you can select one of three difficulty modes: Apprentice, Journeyman or Master. For the first playthrough, it’s recommended to start as an apprentice as For The King is a very challenging game. You can also choose if you want to play alone or co-op locally or online. To start a new adventure you have to press the plus button. I explicitly mention this here as the “Create Button” can easily be missed.

In the next screen, you select your three party members. You can either randomize your characters or change their classes, names and appearances individually as you like. Each class has different special abilities and starting equipment. While the Blacksmith is lacking experience in comat, it is strong in armor. The Hunter is a fast and precise character with deadly accuracy in combat. The Scholar is strong in using magic and the Herbalist has an ability to heal your party. In the first playthrough, some classes are not available yet but these can be unlocked later with Lore. Once you are done, you have to press the plus button again to create the game.

For The King Nintendo Switch

For The King is quest-based and you have to complete quest objectives to proceed with the game. Normally, two or three objectives are available at a time which can be fulfilled in random order. Each character is controlled individually in turn-based order. At the beginning of a turn, you see the available moves a character can make. Then you can select where the character should be heading to. If he encounters an enemy on his way, a window pops up where you can choose to fight, ambush, sneak or retreat. If you choose to fight or ambush, you should always make sure that your other party members are within the grid radius that they will accompany you in the fights as this makes it easier.

Fights are turn-based and take place on a separate screen that provides a closer and more detailed view of the area. Depending on the class, each character has different attack options. The outcome of an attack is random but can be influenced by using Focus points to guarantee success. Once depleted, Focus points can be replenished in towns, camps or by using special items. If you feel that you won’t be able to win, you can use the Flee command to leave the combat. Alternatively, you can use items to heal a party member or to get extra moves. Once a party member dies, you can revive the character as long as you have life points available. After winning a fight, you can loot the fallen corpse to get gold, items as well as weapons and armory. You also earn experience points which will help you in leveling up your characters.

For The King Nintendo Switch

On your quests, you also have to enter dungeons which are portal to Fahrul’s underworld. These dungeons must be entered as a party and can only be escaped by finding the exit. It’s recommended that your party is well rested and well supplied as these dungeons are often challenging. The number over a dungeon displays the enemy strenght so only enter dungeons equivalant to the strength of your party members. The number of rooms and levels vary from dungeon to dungeon. Once the entire floor of a dungeon is cleared, tinder pouches may be used at starwells to heal your party. After you beat the final enemy, a dungeon is cleared and you will earn gold and other items. If you cleared a quest objective, chaos will also be reduced.

Towns provide services like healing or mediation to gain focus. There is also a market where you can purchase items or sell armory that you don’t need anymore, and a quest board to accept quests for earning more gold. One of the most useful items is the Tinder Pouch which creates a camp at which all party members can heal and regain focus. It’s always recommended to have some Tinder Pouches with you in case your characters are low on HP or Focus.

For The King Nintendo Switch

The longer you play, the more chaos breaks out and enemies also become stronger. Besides clearing quest objectives, there’s also the chance to use your luck with Carnival Tickets at the Dark Carnival to reduce chaos. By destroying Cult Devices, you can also reduce chaos, gain a life or banish a scourge. It normally helps a lot to use some Focus to influence the outcome positively. When all party members are dead, the game is over and you have to start from the beginning. Lore which is generated through battles, story content and quests can be used to unlock new characters, customization options and items to enhance and improve your gameplay experience in the next run. As maps are generated prodecurally, no playthrough is the same.

For The King is controlled with the analog sticks and the buttons, touch screen play is not supported. It needs a little time to get used to the controls as the game is quite complex and so are the controls. But once you are used to it, it plays very well. Moving on the map can be tricky at times but this is my only complaint. The game plays well in handheld mode as the text size is adapted well and the text good readable.

For The King Nintendo Switch

For The King is a challenging game and even when you start as an Apprentice, it demands a lot from you. There is some kind of tutorial through the first quest objectives but you will need at least 1 or 2 playthroughs to fully understand the gameplay system. Once you know how it’s played it becomes easier to make the right moves and plan your journey well. But the more you proceed, the more difficult it gets. This is what can make the game a bit frustrating at times when too much chaos breaks out and also scourges appear. It then can become quite stressful fighting the right enemies or clearing the right quest objective to reduce chaos again. I wish the game would throw less enemies at you in this moment.

Besides the high difficulty, For The King offers a deep and entertaining gameplay experience. The game comes with so many little details that it’s impossible to mention everything in this review. The six different campaigns guarantee lots of gameplay value and thanks to the procedural maps, every playthrough is different.

In my first playthroughs, I experienced lots of crashes, especially in co-op online play. Version 1.0.1 is now available and I didn’t experience a crash anymore. Nevertheless, if it should be crashing you can always start again where you left off as the game is saving all the time.

For The King Nintendo Switch

Graphics

For The King has some beautiful, colorful 3D graphics in polygon-style. The map screen can be zoomed in and out and shows lots of details of the world and the enemies. Turn-based fights are shown with pretty animations of your characters and the enemies. Dungeons are gloomy and dark and are definitely the highlights of the game as these are the most fearsome zones. Overall, I loved the graphics as it fits fits to the tabletop game style.

Music & Sound

For The King comes with a beautifully arranged, medieval soundtrack that fits well to the game’s setting. The music changes between the maps and the turn-based fights as well as the dungeons.

Conclusion

For The King is a challenging and entertaining roguelike boardgame mixed with strategy RPG elements. The game offers lots of details and content and thanks to the procedurally generated maps and quests, every playthrough is different. For The King is not an easy game and it can become frustrating at times. But besides the high difficulty, players get a special mixture of boardgame and strategy RPG with lots of gameplay value.

For The King Gameplay:

 

The review was written by Michael. All screenshots are from the Switch version. The review is based on a review copy which was provided by the publisher.

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