Hello and welcome to ‘The Twelve Games of Christmas’, a highlight reel of some of my (Dann Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief) favourite games of 2017. As regular readers will know, we’re extremely eclectic in our tastes here at B3; hopefully these little suggestions, essentially recommendations, will match that. Enjoy!
For The King is one of the greatest digital board game adaptions I’ve ever played: its systems and rules are surprisingly pure and easy to grasp onto; its map and missions system is surprisingly in depth, able to feel fresh on each play; and its polygonal art style — from items to the world’s hexes — almost betrays a surprisingly detailed world.
The biggest surprise though? For The King has never been a board game.
It has, however, been a lot of other things; it was a Kickstarter success back at the end of 2015 when it raised over 300% of its target. It was a Greenlight success as well, at around the same time — passing through greenlight faster than most could report on it. It’s also, undeniably, a success as a game: the developers have been pushing a couple of updates live every month during its stint in early access, and it has around a thousand players online every time I check the stats on its Steam page.
All these successes are due in part to For The King‘s well-defined art style and wide breadth of content.
In the game’s main campaign, which shares its title with that of the game itself, you start out with a party of three characters. There are several classes to choose from, from hunter to minstrel. Each of them, once assigned a class and name, receives a purse of gold and a few restorative items before setting out into the world.
Despite the fact that the game features an active battle system reminiscent of classic, turn-based JRPGs, each player-controlled character is moved independently on the overworld map. This means that, if you feel you can handle the combat, you could separate all three characters, sending them off in different directions. It’s this ability to separate and claw across the map which best channels For The King‘s mastery of the risk-reward mechanics present in most roguelikes. Splitting a group at the start is a ridiculous idea. Heck, it’s pretty ridiculous at any point, as enemies don’t scale to match who you take into combat, but it’s absolutely something you can do.
For The King’s overworld starts clouded by fog. Then the main campaign drags you around, peeling back clouds and darkness to reveal how the world has been generated and pieced together. This foray into the unknown is certainly nothing new in games, but the opportunity to send off party members to heal, sell off your loot, or just scout a different direction, is easily one of the most interesting pitch shifts for a game which delivers on so many 90s console JRPG hallmarks with its combat and worldly quest.
While For The King‘s combat certainly channels the aesthetics of that fondly remembered genre — with instanced combat, status effects and the two sides lining up opposite one another — it has plenty of merits to make it memorable. For The King features a focus system which runs through the entire game, a pool of points for each character which can be used to increase the effectiveness of any move in combat — enough to turn a narrow miss into a critical hit.
Focus can also be used to tilt the odds when it comes to almost any challenge in the game, be that opening chests, any of the many events that populate the map as you explore or popping open chests or traps. It can even be used to expand the number of hexes each character can move on the turn of its use — enough to move a character that one hex to make sure they’re within range of combat or event triggers.
There’s a wealth of weapons, events and character classes, with more on the horizon. This diversity of content, along with the fact that quite a few classes are locked behind progress, isn’t particularly new-player friendly. However, the For The King‘s main campaign is tightly bookmarked with objectives, enough so that it’s almost impossible not to know when you’ve pushed a little bit further than before.
For the King is currently available for Windows and Mac via Early Access on Steam, with no launch window declared at the moment.