Konung 2: A Hidden RPG Gem?
You're a hardcore RPG gamer. You've played the old classics, you've played the modern classics, you've seen them come and watched them go. But you might have missed a few along the way. Games that somehow slipped beneath your radar. Some, maybe for good reason. Others? They just get swept away by the tides of time. Maybe you were too busy playing the more well-known titles that you just missed the smaller ones. Whatever the reason, it seems many RPG gamers might have missed Konung 2, and now the game is all but forgotten. Dusting off a Steam copy of the game, I ask a question - Is it worth it? Let's find out!
So, what is Konung 2? Konung 2 is a game from 2004; the second game in the Scandinavian-themed "Konung" series of RPGs that features a blend of familiar RPG elements with a bit of settlement management, ala a simulation-style game. It's not a 50/50 split of the 2 genres, I would say it leans more towards the RPG side of the spectrum, enough so that I can safely call this a deep RPG. That said, how you actually play the game is largely up to you. You can focus more on building up your villages and protecting them, or you can largely skip those aspects of the game and focus on the RPG side. Either way, the game is expansive and the sandbox is large enough to allow you to choose your own path and define your own gameplay.
Konung 2 is an isometric, open-world RPG where you traverse a large world map that interconnects villages that have smaller, local maps. Travelling between villages is sort of a simulation style, where you click a spot on the map and you watch the icon of your group move towards it. You have to tread carefully, though, as you will more than likely get ambushed along the way. If you have a high Pathfinding skill, the chance of that happening is a bit less. You'll never truly feel overwhelmed with random encounters, unless you're traveling in a dangerous area with poor Pathfinding, in which case the random encounter amount jumps up a bit. By that time, though, you will be thankful for the fights as they help level-up your ragtag group of adventurers.
Dotted along this map are the villages, be it Viking settlements or Byzantine settlements. In these settlements you'll encounter village chiefs, blacksmiths, alchemists and healers, war-chiefs, commoners and many other non-playable characters along the way, all with their own level, inventory and skills. You should talk to everyone, as talk is cheap and could lead you to some interesting treasures or quests that you didn't know were there. Often you can hire mercenaries from the village who will join your quest. Some of these characters will join after you fulfill a quest, others will join if you give them a large enough tribute. There are even some characters who will join you for a specific purpose and then leave after that purpose is fulfilled.
The story of Konung 2 takes place after the events of the first Konung game. A cursed bracelet now controls the mind of the villain known as the Ruler of the Woodland, and he seeks to become immortal and terrorize the land further. Only the 6 descendants of the mighty Titans can stop him. To be honest, the story is not really the focal point of the game, or it's strongest aspect. There isn't a lot of story dialog to be found here, and most people you encounter will just talk about their local, uneventful lives, rather than exposing on the main story of the game. The good thing about the story, is that, in order to figure out what to do next, you have to piece together clues and figure it out for yourself. No, you won't find any magical compass markers or flashing exclamation points here, but you will find a well-thought out adventure that gives you enough of a direction to get by, but not too much that you feel constrained. When it all comes together and you figure out exactly what to do, it's quite rewarding.
Character customization is a strong aspect of Konung 2, and one of the features that will keep you coming back for more. There are a large amount of inventory items that can affect your character in different ways. There are the usual armor/weapon/accessory slots, and all weapons and armor have certain stat requirements to use them. A big part of the addictive gameplay in Konung 2 is playing enough to finally reach the prerequisite stat level suitable to wield that double-handed axe, or that helmet of supreme protection. In fact, a large part of the enjoy-ability of the gameplay lies in the fact that the inventory management is great, addictive fun, as you create and grow your traveling band of warriors-for-hire. Some items can be used to grant you magical bonuses, others can be combined in alchemical potions, if you have the recipe. Magic runes can be inserted into virtually any piece of gear, as long as you have a sufficient Magic skill.
Speaking of magic, there is no real magic in the game. There are magically enchanted items, a bit of foul sorcery here and there, but you won't be flinging fireballs and casting curses of doom upon your enemies. You can curse enemies, but it's done with a curse doll, not a spell. There are no real spells to speak of that are useable by your group, and while this might be seen as a negative, I can honestly say that I didn't mind not having magic at my disposal too much, as it really doesn't diminish the fantasy aspect much, if at all. It still felt like a fantasy world, and as I said, you will find magical "Singing Items" along your journey, which have special stat bonuses on them, and you will encounter wise magi who can identify magical items for you and sell you goods of a more arcane nature. There are also wild magical enemies and beasts to encounter, such as sea monsters, firebirds, zombies, and everyone's favorite - poisonous spiders.
You can have up to 8 party members join you at any time, and your main character is chosen from one of 6 unique heroes, each with their own starting location, stats, back-story and skills. Once you choose your lead character, you will be set loose in a world where you will have to find companions to survive. Alas, don't even try killing that group of monsters in the starting area alone, you will die. No, you must build up a strong group of mercenaries in order to overcome your enemies and win the day. There are a large number of characters that can join your cause, and while you won't find much in the way of party banter as you would in a game like Baldur's Gate, each character comes with their own skills and stats, both of which can be customized to your heart's content.
Combat is a real-time system that you can't pause, and there are no real orders to give, anyway. You simply unsheathe your weapon, click on an enemy and watch it play out. The tactical aspect of combat does come into play as you further progress in the game. Mainly, you will have to be able to regularly heal your party members as they take damage. You can have them use potions on their own, or, you can use the group's healer to save the day. Enemies will come in packs and swarm you, so you have to be careful not to get surrounded. If a character gets surrounded, it will probably die, and there is no resurrection in the game to speak of, so you have to be careful as positioning is important. A good tactic that I found to use is to have your party gang up on one enemy, then pull them out to reposition themselves better so they don't get swarmed. Then go back into the fray and take out the next enemy, etc., until the group is defeated.
Sometimes a village elder tasks you with an important job to help the village in some way. Often, when you complete these tasks, running the village is then left up to you. You can build blacksmith forges, shipyards, barracks, healer's huts and more, and you can even leave behind your own recruited party members to hold down the task of running these buildings while you're off adventuring. Leave a high-level warrior in a town and it's not just for show, other characters in the village will actually train under them, go up levels on their own and be able to hold off enemy attacks better. Build a blacksmith forge and spend a portion of your village's tribute on weapons, and watch as the villagers slowly build up a stronger and stronger arsenal to protect themselves. You may even be able to train someone over the long haul and then add them to your own party, once they've gained enough experience fighting at the barracks. There are many options to approach the simulation aspect and they are a welcome, albeit small, distraction from regular adventuring.
There is a good amount of exploration in the game, as there are many maps to explore and hidden secrets to discover. The maps are similar to a game like Baldur's Gate, but not as large. There are many of them, and each map has unique, hand-placed, hidden treasure on it that you can search for, often with unique encounters to uncover as well. Armed with a spade, a torch and a magical copper mirror, you can unearth treasures from nearly every map to add to your collection of loot. Treasure hunting is not a mandatory aspect of the game, but is quite fun and could net you some interesting items to help outfit your troops, and even some magical items that are hard to find otherwise can be found by digging around a bit.
Another thing to note about Konung 2, is that it takes a bit of time for the game to really ramp up and pick up the pace. Overall, the pace is pretty slow here, and anyone expecting non-stop hack n' slash action should just look elsewhere. Likewise, anyone who doesn't want to invest at least a few hours into the game before it starts getting good should give this game a pass. In the first 5 hours or so that I played of Konung 2, I didn't kill a single thing! In that time, the game felt very slow and a bit clunky. Now that I'm many more hours in, I'm clearing entire maps of enemies and winning glorious battles and the slow-paced feeling has grown on me quite a bit. I can see some people giving up early in the game because the first impression the game leaves you with is not that impressive, and I feel that a lot of the negative player reviews for the game came from some bad first impressions. Again, it all feels a bit deliberate and it takes awhile to really grab you. Once it does grab you, though, you're in for a huge adventure with a lot of hours of addictive and methodical gameplay.
Konung 2 is not a perfect game. There are a few translation issues here and there, some of the text is a bit weird to read and the voice acting is not a strong point. It's not that the voice acting is bad, but there just isn't as much of it as seen in games with bigger production budgets. Still, even with these "issues", the game has a high charm factor that won me over. If you go in expecting Baldur's Gate in a Scandinavian setting, you will be sorely disappointed. It's not really Divine Divinity, either, or any other isometric RPG you could think of. If you approach the game with the mindset that you want to experience an interesting, unique RPG world with a decent degree of challenge and some very interesting ideas that were executed pretty well, you could be very happy with Konung 2.
I've played for 30+ hours and there still seems to be a lot of game left to play, so there is quite a bit of bang for your buck here. The game features some addictive gameplay systems, lots of rewarding exploration and a strong feeling of, "let's just play for 5 more minutes.", or, "let's just play until this character reaches the next level so I can have enough Vitality to equip that armor.", etc. Controlling an entire party's skills, inventory and stats is quite a fun endeavor, and it seems to get better the longer you play. For $4.99 on Steam, you really can't go wrong, as long as you have some patience and expect a slow start. Once you've gotten over your initial impressions, a new impression will start to grow on you and you'll start to see a bit of genius in this buried treasure of a game.
I give Konung 2 the Fluent Seal of Approval and would recommend it to anyone who wants to try something a bit old-school and a bit different than your average RPG.
Check out Konung 2 on Steam
Information aboutKonung 2: Blood of Titans
Developer: 1C Company
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2004-11-30
· Publisher: 1C Company