In spite of these flaws, however, Frayed Knights does something that so few RPGs do these days: it provides a real sense of hard-earned progression, enjoyable quests that interweave with one another, tactical and challenging turn-based combat with a huge amount of depth and few obvious exploits or problems, exploration which not only provides good rewards, but revolves around player ingenuity and persistence rather than simply following obvious clues and a quest compass, and, of course, it also doesn't take itself too seriously. When getting deep into the game's mechanics and presentation, it's easy to come across a few weak points, and, were this not an indie game, those problems would be much harder to forgive. For a one-man labor of love, however, I'm willing to give Frayed Knights a pass on a lot of these issues, especially because so many other things about the game are done so well.
The bottom line on Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon is that it provides a great, traditional, and well-designed CRPG experience, the likes of which we rarely see these days. Players who are used to the polish and streamlining more modern RPGs, and who don't take kindly to the game's less serious tone and style may not find themselves drawn into the game, but the underlying mechanics are, provided you enjoy combat and dungeon crawling, some of the best I've seen in years. I think fans of some of the genre's classics, like Might & Magic, Wizardry, and Betrayal at Krondor will really appreciate Jay Barnson's tribute to old-school CRPGs, and, perhaps, it will also convince some newer fans of the genre to get into the classics as well. My hope is that Jay will take a close look at the strong and weak points with his first outing, and do his best to resolve the problems while building on the strengths. For now, while I can't recommend it to absolutely everyone (so play the demo and check it out for yourself!), Frayed Knights is, quite simply, the kind of game a lot of CRPG fans have been waiting for.