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Frayed Knights Review

by Corwin, 2011-09-28

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I agree almost 100% with Corwin's view. Pretty much the only difference is that I didn't mind Ben's priestly spells. Different play styles though. I liked how that he didn't have the usual "cleric" type of turn undead, blessing and so on... I got that with Arianna through the Divine, but Ben was a bit more unique - especially with spells like Angry Flowers and Writhroots. Let me repeat that last one for those of you who are going to buy the game, WRITHROOTS. Use it, live it, love it. It'll be your best friend in the game.

So here is the rat's take on the game.

INTRODUCTION

The world in which Frayed Knights takes place in is a world where heroes are common place. There are no "chosen ones" within this world. Adventuring is a businesses. There is a guild that all semi-pro adventurers want to join but not everyone can - especially our heroes. They've been trying to join for quite a while now with little success. The high standards for joining the guild may have something to do with the fact that the life of an adventurer is often cut short. There is no Lord British to bring you back from the dead here; once you are dead that's it. Every hero seems to know this, but they don't care. Especially your party. They know they will get "morted" (adventurer slang for killed) eventually, but they'll go down swinging.

The characters are one of my favorite parts to this game. They're quirky, a little nuts and above all, they're not your stereotypical heroes. They are "the other guys". They're the ones who no one takes seriously and yet they're always trying to prove themselves to everyone.

Your party consists of Arianna, Dirk, Chloe and Benjamin.

Arianna is the warrior and leader (or so she thinks) of the group. She has a very short fuse. The focus of her ire is usually Dirk.

Dirk is the fun loving rogue of the party. However, his version of fun is not for everyone. He loves dangerous situations. The more dangerous the better. He takes this idea of an adrenaline junky to a whole new level.

Chloe is my favorite. She's a sorceress who manages to mix both innocence and insanity very well. She loves fire and burning any monster that gets in her path. In other words, the innkeeper would be smart to keep a few buckets of water close at hand when Chloe stays there.

Benjamin is the newb and a nature priest. For me, he was the most forgettable, but he's necessary because in essence we - the players - are Benjamin. Arianna, Dirk and Chloe will school Benjamin, aka us, on adventuring terminology and creature lore. They'll teach Benjamin about the different classifications to a dungeon and what certain words mean. One word you will learn quickly is "morted". They use it quite a lot, since they are always in life or death situations.

CLASSES

There are four classes in Frayed Knights. You have the usual warrior, rogue, sorcerer and priest and these are already assigned to your characters.

The warrior class (Arianna) is your typical fighter. Arianna can wear any armor and wield any weapon. In addition to kicking butt with a sword and shield, Arianna makes a darn good priest as well. I multi-classed her by making her a Divine priest and a warrior. So, in essence, she was a paladin. She kicked butt and saved the Frayed Knights a few times through timely use of healing and buffing spells. Her Shred the Dead spells wreaked havoc on the undead as well.

The priest (Benjamin) is a good healer and buffing character. I didn't multi-class Ben at all. He kept my guys breathing, while still being able to damage or debuff anything that was thrown our way.

The rogue class (Dirk) is my second favorite for his ability to fade out of combat and hit any monster anywhere on the battlefield. Well...not so much a field really as a battle rectangle. Also, his almost suicidal tendencies added much to this character.

The sorcerer class (Chloe) is my favorite because of how Jay wrote her personality and the awesomeness of her spells (yes, awesomeness is a word). She could haste, blow up, poison, put to sleep or throw through a window (literally she throws enemies through windows) any monster she came across. As usual with any sorcerer you have to pay close attention to her health as the enemies can take her out easily. Once, in the beginning, she was taken out by two imps who decided to gang up on her in the first round of combat with two acid spells. She was never quite the same after that. For some reason she would curl up into a ball and scream, "There is no place like home. There is no place like home." if anyone even mentioned imps or acid. Of course, I'm not serious about that, but this character came to life so much for me through Jay's dialogues in the game that I could easily imagine her doing that.

ATTRIBUTES

There are five primary attributes: Might, Brains, Reflexes, Charm and Luck.

They influence pretty much what you would imagine they would with the exception of Charm, which is your priest's bread and butter. The higher your Charm the higher level priestly spells you can cast. When multi-classing, take this into account; I didn't the first time through and Dirk ended up being a mediocre dark priest/rogue. I still managed to win the game, but Dirk was not as powerful as he is now on my third time through.

COMBAT

The combat is a breath of fresh air to this old-school gamer. It's turn-based with initiative determining who goes first and who goes last. God, I miss that.

Corwin already went into a lot of detail with the combat so I'll just add that it's a lot of fun. The monsters are not easy - but not too hard to the point of being frustrating. You have many options to choose from during combat. You can use feats, cast many different kinds of spells, defend, rest, flee, search your journal to see what the monsters are vulnerable to (if you had Chloe cast Cheat Sheet on them or you have faced them more than a few times) or you can use an item in your inventory. The monsters are no push overs, either. Many of them can cast spells or have certain abilities that debuff your character in some way. Overall I had - and am still having - a blast kicking the snot out the wide varity of creatures thrown in my path.

ENDURANCE & EXHAUSTION

I couldn't do this without mentioning endurance. I'm going to get a little technical here for the sake of clarity because exhaustion confused me a little bit in the beginning.

Endurance is a key factor in combat. All of your heroes have a certain amount of endurance. They use it almost every time they do any action in combat (the amount can be lessened through feats). A "normal" attack normally uses less endurance than casting a spell or using a feat. If you reach 0 endurance, then that character automatically rest on the next turn. I would advise against this since a character with no endurance will be a lot easier to hit than a character with even one point.

You can recover some endurance in combat by resting (the amount of endurance recovered can be increased through feats). When you start to get low on endurance it is better to rest that round to recover some.

Out of combat you can also rest to recover your endurance. Be aware that while resting you may encounter some random creatures wandering the halls. Especially if you choose the option to heal while resting.

Exhaustion is the wear and tear on your party. There is a gold ring around your endurance bar that slowly lowers the more actions you do. This is your exhaustion increasing. That means that the total amount of endurance you have is decreased by a small amount with each action. Your endurance keeps lowering and your exhaustion keeps increasing till you are only at 25% of your maximum endurance. After that it will stop.

You can counter exhaustion in a few different ways. One of the easiest ways is to drink a potion (Liquid Nap) that will increase your endurance and lower your exhaustion so that your maximum endurance is once again increased. You can also head on back to the inn and rest in a bed. This will bring the party back up to their maximum health and maximum endurance. Your total exhaustion will be eliminated and be reset to 0.

Those are all fine, but potions cost money and backtracking to the inn wastes time. In my opinion, the most effective way to counter exhaustion is through the use of Drama Stars. Drama Stars are one of the best aspects to the game. It cut out a lot of boring backtracking involved in so many RPGs. So instead of having to rest up at the inn, I just use a few Drama Stars to max out my characters endurance again...that saved so much time and kept the game moving at a good pace.

MAGIC

There are a ton of spells and skills to choose from. Overall there are over 80 skills and over 100 spells. Some of the skills are passive that you do nothing at all to use. Others are active that require you to use them. Many of the spells are unique like Angry Flowers. This is a nature priest's spell that conjurers up a bunch of really p.o.ed petunias to bite the unfortunate victim. Another not so a-typical spell is Exploding Kneecaps. It does exactly what it says. It will hurt your enemy while causing a staggering effect (since its kneecaps were just blown to bits). You can see for yourself every feat and spell over at Jay's blog. He's posted the description to them all from the manual:

Feats, Part One

Feats, Part Two

Magic and Spells, Part One

Magic and Spells, Part Two

Magic and Spells, Part Three

Corwin went into a lot of detail into magic as well and he's right about the descriptions being one of the best parts to the spells. It is so much more satisfying to cast a Boot to the Head or a Curse of Loose Bowels. Technically they are just offensive or debuff type of spells, but for me, the fact that the enemies literally got kicked in the head or got stomach cramps made all the difference.

Equipment

There are nearly 200 items in the game. There are your usual weapons/armor with varying degrees of quality, potions and items that help you spring traps/locks and scrolls. Then there are your not so usual ones like a stormcrow egg that when used will cast the spell Zap. Here's another hint for those of you who like the sound of this game and are going to get it, use your potions/one use items. There are many different types of potions available and I know a lot of RPG fans love to horde those things away for a rainy day (myself included). That would be a mistake. Use your Liquid Nap potions when your characters are exhausted. Use your Stormcrow Eggs to zap the enemies into submission. Use your buffing potions to give your characters a +1 or more stat boost. These make all the difference in the world and will save your behind more than a few times.

One thing you'll be spending a few gold on are a reagent called spellstones. You need these to cast some of the more powerful types of spells. A lot, if not all, of the "mass" affecting spells require spellstones. If you want to cast a Crackerball that affects a whole group of enemies then you'll need a spellstone. You have your basic, intermediate and advanced type of spellstone. As you can guess the basic ones are for the earlier level spells, intermediate for middle and advanced for the really deadly spells in your arsenal. I like how certain spells needed a reagent to cast them. It added just one more tactical element to the combat.

Weapons have three types of damage associated with them. You have blunt, piercing and edged. Some creatures are more susceptible to certain types of damage while others are more resistant. There are a few weapons that do additional damage beyond the typical edged, piercing and blunt. Once again this tactical element in the game made all the difference to me. Try fighting a frost elemental with a cold based attack and you'll die fast. Choose a fire based spell and you may live to see the next encounter.

TRAPS & LOCKS

 

Jay did something unique with traps & locks. It makes so much sense that I wonder why other RPGs haven't done it. In essence lockpicking/disarming is a mini-game where you need to win to unlock the lock or disarm the trap. Don't think of Oblivion style mini-game or even Wizardry 7 style. It's more like another combat except this time the monster is the lock/trap. You match your highest mechanical aptitude character against the lock/trap. You can use items to boost your aptitude to give you a greater chance of success. If you fail picking a lock then you can try again, but there is a chance that you will encounter a random group of monsters. If you fail disarming a trap then the trap goes off, but it's gone after that.

There are literally too many items to list that you can use to help defeat the locks/traps. I will give one example of these items and that is "fusing acid". You can use it to boost your chances of disarming a trap, though it doesn't help you with unlocking a lock.

QUESTS

Corwin already mentioned this so I'll be brief. I liked the quests. There is one in particular that was amazing. It involved rats and could have been an a-typical "kill the rats in my basement" quest except for Jay's twisted sense of humor really shone through in it. I'm still waiting for a game where I team up with the rats and kill the humans instead, but I digress...

DRAMA STARS

Again, Corwin gave you a good indicator as to what Drama Stars are, but I would just like to add that they saved a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on boring game lengthening tricks that the big boys in the RPG gaming world love to use. I really hate to use this word, but it "streamlined" the game to keep you in the actiony goodness and not in the walking badness. My advice to anyone who plays is to always use the "continue" button when starting the game. If you choose "load" you will lose all of your drama stars that you accumulated when you quit.

HUMOR

The best way to describe the overall feel to the humor in the game would be an example taken from Quest for Glory. In Quest for Glory you meet all kinds of interesting characters. One example is an eccentric wizard name Erasmus and his snarky familiar, Fenrus (Fenrus is, of course, the best character in the game) or you'll meet the meeps who are fuzzy little colorful creatures that live under rocks and pop up from the ground like a whack-a-mole game. Then there is the dreaded antwerp who looks like a large bouncing ball of slime. It's favorite pastime is jumping very high in the sky and landing on unsuspecting adventurers. These adventurers normally get to experience what a pancake feels like.

Obviously this is not laugh-out-loud kind of humor, but a slighty warped version of your typical fantasy setting. In other words, Frayed Knights is more like Discworld than Forgotten Realms.

SEARCHING

 

The searching mechanic is simple. You push "x" and your party searches. A window will popup and tell you if you are close to a hidden item/trap or if there is nothing nearby. There is a chance for a random encounter when you do this, but the chance is relatively small. A good rule of thumb is to search every new room you walk in to.

If you are close to a hidden item then when the window pops up it will indicate with a description to how close and a number. 4 means that you detect something, but it is far away. 1 means you are almost on top of it. Basically the game is telling you how "hot" or "cold" you are from the hidden stash.

GRAPHICS

What can I say about the graphics? They're acceptable. Some of the art is quite good, imo, but you have to take into account that I still think that Ultima 5's graphics are amazing. Growing up with CGA graphics twisted my view on what is acceptable and what isn't. Just take a look at a few screenshots or better yet download the demo and judge for yourself.


CONCLUSION

I loved this game. It's what I've been waiting for since Wizardry 8 or even the end of the Quest for Glory series. It's a turn-based "blob" RPG set in a quirky setting where adventuring is a lifestyle choice. Even if you don't like games that aren't serious in nature there is still a wonderful "blob" combat RPG here. On my second playthrough, I skipped past all of the dialogues because I knew them all and I still enjoyed the combat portion of the game immensely. I'm now on my third playthrough and still skipping past the dialogues and still enjoying the heck out it.

I also give this game 5 out 5 stars.

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Box Art

Information about

Frayed Knights

Developer: Rampant Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: None

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2011-09-28
· Publisher: Rampant Games

More information


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Summary

Pros

  • Old School Goodness
  • Turn Based
  • Party of four, which can be customised during play
  • Tongue-in-cheek humour
  • Some puzzle solving

Cons

  • No character creation
  • Some pre-defined character skills
  • Moderately linear
  • Adequate, but not brilliant graphics

Rating

Review version

Several