When we talk about the video game industry, we tend to focus pretty heavily on two sides: the big, mean publishers who release AAA games that nobody but the millions of people who buy them like, and the scrappy, innovative indies who plan to Kickstart another ten farming games this week alone. Between those two extremes, though, lie the AA games – the domain of developers like Spiders and 1C Entertainment.
The latter’s made a name for themselves with the King’s Bounty series of strategy-RPGs and now King’s Bounty 2 is here for your fantasy-starved enjoyment.
The world of Nostria’s in a bad way! Disarray is overtaking the land, with bandits and monsters prowling the roads, and the people need a hero. You’ve spent some time in jail on account of being chosen, in public, to be that hero, which doesn’t come off especially great to the people in charge. As things get worse, you’re released to do your best and try to make a difference.
King’s Bounty 2 makes some refinements to its formula without completely abandoning the classic gameplay that keeps this series around. You’ll choose from one of three classes – the physically-focused Warrior, the magical mystical Mage and the somewhere-in-the-middle Paladin – and get to work raising an army to save the land from chaos. Along with offering different stats and skills, each character really is their own person, so they’ll have different reactions to game events. It’s a nice touch that encourages a little bit of replay.
As your chosen character, you’ll explore the world from a traditional third-person RPG perspective, searching for treasure and completing quests scattered throughout the land. It’s reminiscent of a simple version of something like The Witcher. There’s plenty of content to check out and many quests offer multiple options for completion, allowing you to progress your hero toward one of several ideologies. These, in turn, will affect the growth of your army and skills over time as you move in a particular direction.
Combat’s where things get a little nuts, though. If you’ve ever played the Heroes of Might and Magic games, you’ll be pretty familiar with how it works – in no small part because those games were inspired by the original King’s Bounty from way back in 1990! Your army faces off against your foes on a hexagonal battlefield, with obstacles strewn about to mix things up, and you’ll take turns battling one another with swords and sorcery until one side stands victorious.
This is the heart of King’s Bounty 2, of course, and tactical RPG fans are going to love it. You’ll have to take many details into account in each battle, from each unit’s special abilities to your hero’s magical assistance, and success is rewarded both with cash and experience as well as not having to pay to replace dead units. It’s a surprisingly deep system that really opens up as you progress.
King’s Bounty 2 looks great, but that really comes down to the platform you’re playing on. Ideally, you’ll want to give it a shot on a current-gen console like the Xbox Series X or a gaming PC, since while there’s a Switch version available it struggles to run King’s Bounty 2 at a proper framerate. When this game has the proper space to roam, though, it’s a solid graphical experience. Less solid and more hilarious is the over-the-top voice acting, which could be considered a perk.
While it’s not going to win any Game of the Year awards, King’s Bounty 2 really demonstrates the value of AA games in a field where everybody’s paying attention to the AAA or indie scene. This is a fantastic tactical RPG with loads of content and strategy to go around. If you can deal with that exquisite Eurojank flavor, King’s Bounty 2 is worth a look.