King's Bounty: Armored Princess Review
It’s been a long time since I have played a game where I started at 8PM and then realized that it was 2AM in the morning - but King's Bounty: Armored Princess is such a game. In the review below, I’ll explain why I was so captivated.
When the game starts, you’re at your home in Endoria. As in the first game, King’s Bounty: The Legend, your job is to stop the threat to the land. However, the hero from the first game is now long gone and has disappeared into another realm, called Teana. You don’t trust the magician to find the hero that saved your country last time, so you jump yourself into the vortex that will carry you to Teana. You’ll learn that you need to find Gilbert - the hero of the last game - as well as eight stones of the Gods. Your work is then cut out for you: assemble the eight stones of the Gods, find Gilbert and by doing so overcome both the threat to Teana as well as the threat to Endoria.
Luckily, Teana has a king named Frederick that will help you do just this. He provides you with your first troops, as well as your pet dragon and a ship so you can sail the seven seas. In order to use the ship, you must find navigational charts that open up new routes to the islands of Teana.
You’ll need to travel to all the islands of Teana in order to find the eight stones and fullfill the Prophecy of the Angel. And you’ll definitely need your ship as Teana is an island kingdom.
I didn't expect to find the turnbased combat as fun and strategic as I did, since turnbased games aren't my usual preference. However, the combat in KB:AP is fun, engaging and challenging - just like a good game of chess. And the combat never becomes trivial or boring, since each troop has their own unique abilities you'll need to put to good use. This ensures varied gameplay in combat.
The Leadership skill governs the number of troops in your army and can be increased as you level up. In addition to your troops and pet dragon, you'll also find companions to travel with you. The dungeon called The Big Channel on Tekron Islands has a very nice companion who specializes in optic improvements - this means archers have a chance of doing more damage. Since I had archers in my army, I took him along for the ride. There are a total of nine companions in the game you can discover.
When you level up, you get Might, Mind and Magic runes which you can use to develop your skills across these three categories. One skill allows you to arrange your troops before battle, which is very handy as it makes sure you always have the strategic edge over you enemies. To that end, your Pet Dragon will serve you greatly, too. One of the major changes from King's Bounty, the Pet Dragon essentially replaces the previous Rage Box - you also get your Pet Dragon at the start of the game whereas in the first, you didn’t get the Rage Box with the Rage Spirits until later, having completed a quest to obtain them. This is a great help, especially in some of the early battles.
I chose the Green Dragon, whose first abilities were Crushing Blow/Dragon Kick and Treasure Hunting. Your pet dragon levels up, too, and when it does, it gets additional abilities. I’ve found Crushing Blow, Dragon Dive and Summon Lava to be helpful in a tight spot, especially against overwhelming forces.
You can sneak your way past overwhelming forces, too. This is especially helpful if you need to get to critical items in the game, be they chests or navigational charts. You can run away from stronger enemies as well, which means you don’t have to fight stronger enemies until you’re ready. The game doesn’t punish in any way if you level up and come back to fight another day.
Magic is critical in winning battles. As you play, you’ll need to collect magic crystals to inscribe the spells you find or buy into your spellbook - you can only do this, though, if you have the correct magic skill to do so. For example, you'll need Order magic for certain spells, such as Healing. Spells, you find or buy, are added to your spellbook automatically, but without inscribing them, you'll only be able to use them once.
In addition, you’ll obtain items in the game, either through questing or buying them. Some of these items can be upgraded, but you’ll need to fight the keepers of the item, though, before you can get access to the upgraded capabilities.
Graphics and visuals have a cartoony look to them. They appear bright - but not too bright. The art direction in this game is incredible, especially on the hellish island of Shetarra. You’ll love how the sea in this level from hell is exactly the right colour of red. In the north, you’ll find islands with ice that look very nice; Tekron is especially well made. The attention to detail is astounding and the game world comes alive as you move through well placed trees, paths and ponds with ripples. The trees and the game’s environment look alive, probably because the game uses saturated colours as a design choice.
You’ll find this especially at night since the game features a very well-made day/night cycle where the game uses shades and ligtning to make the night sky believable; the continent of Verona at night looks especially beautiful, as does Rusty Anchor Island.
The Sound & Music
Sound effects are great. You’ll the hear sea roll towards land as well as when you sail on the seas. It’s almost like you can hear the wind blow in the trees – even though this feature is not in the game. Flying enemies will buzz at you. The music I found quite flat and uninspired, although there’s something to be said for the dramatic pieces that play out while you’re in combat. The music adds nothing to the atmosphere or the mood of the general gameplay; it just is.
Wrap-up and Conclusion.
I promised to tell why I’ve still found myself playing at 2AM in the morning. It’s all to do with the quests in this game. They are varied and humorous – and simply fun to play. On one island, you’ll get to search for a renegade axe, which you'll need to suppress; on another island, your employer is a vampire who eats the sap juice from trees. On another island you can either side with a husband or his wife in order to finish the quest. On the first island – Debir - you’ll get a quest that leads to the island of Monteron. This in turn leads you to wanting to find the navigational charts so that you can go (sail) to these different islands. And then suddenly, you run into a pirate that demands 50 robbers from you. It’ll take a while to get them, but in the meantime, you’ll have fun exploring other islands. On most islands you reach, a quest will lead you to the next.
This is what kept me going, just waiting to see what was round each corner. And it’s why I was playing at 2AM. It's great fun and I recommend this excellent game profoundly.
Information aboutKing's Bounty: Armored Princess
Developer: Katauri Interactive
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2009-11-20
· Publisher: 1C Company
- Creative quests
- Strong turn-based combat
- Pet dragon with different abilities
- Can avoid some enemy stacks
- Tiresome to backtrack to buy more troops
- Uninspiring music
- Enemies rush at you
Review versionReview copy supplied by 1C
Opinions from other editorsJoy'magerette'Jones
I agree with Aries100 on the many positive features of this game, and would give it the same high score, though I've not quite finished it at time of writing this.
In fact, it's very hard to find something to say that isn't positive. Armored Princess is a sequel to an excellent game, and expectations will always be high in such cases;I have to say that I had many doubts as to whether the cartoonish Dragon and the scantily-clad female main character indicated that gameplay would become more 'casual' than in the original King's Bounty. This is quite definitely not the case. The dragon is a helpful, non-intrusive tool with somewhat more limited power than the Rage spirits he replaces. The art style is bright, but lovingly crafted and varies from location to location, so that each map is like a different Faberge egg to encounter and appreciate. The gameplay remains solid and straightforward turn-based strategy, with some updated units and spells to keep it feeling fresh.
The only slightly negative comment I would make is that the first portion of the game is much harder than the subsequent portion, with a need to pay close attention to conserving troops and cash. Also the extreme randomness of available units and spells can adversely affect the fun, since a mage with limited spells or a warrior with second rate units will have a much harder time in combat.
On the whole, however, Armored Princess is an excellent sequel, taking what worked in the first game and improving on it rather than just replicating it. Anyone who played King's Bounty:The Legend, should enjoy Armored Princess.
Michael 'txa1265' Anderson
I remember buying the original King's Bounty: The Legend and not expecting all that much - I had liked Heroes of Might & Magic V, but it is certainly not one of my favorites. So I was both surprised and thrilled that King's Bounty turned out to be one of the best games of 2008!
The problem with that situation is it sets expectations for a follow-up pretty high. As with Aries100, I like to vary my game types, and coming off the three Elven Legacy add-ons I expected to have tired of turn-based games of this type - yet I found it compelling throughout. So without adding much more than 'I agree' to what the others have said, let me reiterate my thoughts of King's Bounty as one of the best games of 2008 and Armored Princess as a divine follow-up.