A lot of games have tried to copy the style of Minecraft ever since it became a hit. Some were simply copies while others were trying to do something more or different in the gameplay area. Portal Knights is, fortunately, one example of the second: a game that tries to be something more than just a clone of Minecraft. The developer did this by adding combat and other RPG style features to their game. The end result is something that feels quite original.
While the game takes a lot of inspiration from Minecraft, one of its biggest difference is that it actually has a story. The story is simple but enough for the game to work. In Portal Knights, your objective is to travel from island to island to restore the world that was torn apart by an event called The Fracture. During your quest, you’ll encounter several NPC characters which will share you a bit more details about the world of the game. Besides that, there’s not much to talk about the story, like I said.
Controlling the game feels responsive and fine. Portal Knights features both 1st person view and 3rd person view. The basics of building are clearly inspired by Minecraft but adds it’s own touch with a good focus on combat. That side works similar to an RPG, your character can be leveled up and there’s a skill tree which you can easily switch at any time. There’s also skill points that you get with each level which you can use to make your character stronger in either speed, physical power, defense, and other usual RPG aspects. To get new weapons and armor, though, you need to go back to the crafting side of the game and get the materials and make the item on your own. Also, not everything is available to craft by default, so you’ll need to explore carefully each island you visit to find special scrolls so that you can unlock additional recipes to make even more items.
As previously mentioned the game has a story and is divided into levels and worlds. Each level is made by small islands where you can complete quests or play around in it building things. There’s always a central island where you’ll spend most of the time and a few smaller stray pieces of land that you can still reach. To progress to the next level, you need to find the broken portal doors and repair them, which will then let you travel to another piece of islands. Just finding and repairing the portal doors is simple and easy but traveling and exploring the level won’t be as simple since you’ll encounter several enemies that vary depending on the type of level. As you progress through the game, the enemies you encounter will become harder, forcing you to get stronger equipment and leveling up more. This happens in a natural way, though, so you’ll probably always find that the enemies aren’t too strong or too weak.
Since the levels are divided into worlds, the final level of each world is also a boss level. In these levels, your only objective is to defeat the boss. You can’t even modify the area in these stages. The fights make the game more interesting as it brings focus to the combat aspect instead of the usual exploring. Each boss battle also has different strategies to clear them, which make them feel unique. The only problem here would be that there aren’t that many bosses to fight in the game.
Besides the usual levels with story, there’s also a way to unlock completely empty pieces of land with the type of setting that you choose. These are places where you can get completely creative since there are no enemies to bother you at all and the locations aren’t small islands but a huge piece of land.
The game also features a multiplayer mode that you can either play on the same console, through local LAN play, or online. While, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play online due to always getting an error when trying to enter that mode, playing the game in multiplayer is definitely the most recommended way to play it since playing alone can end up feeling tedious and time consuming after a while.
Portal Knights has decent character graphics with a consistent art-style and overall nice environments. The game runs at 30 fps, which is usually consistent while in docked mode. In portable mode, the game does have more frequent frame drops, specially when there are a lot of things going on the screen, even if it’s just a lot of grass. You do have the option to lower the graphic settings of the game, though, which is a welcome addition and can help you get less frame drops.
In the sound area, the music of Portal Knights is decent and works well for the game. It’s nothing special or really memorable but each area has a music that fits well with it. The sound effects are also well done and fit in with the whole game.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Portal Knights was provided by 505 Games for this review.