Portal Knights is a cartoony cooperative exploration sandbox game, which features dangerously addictive gameplay similar to the likes of Minecraft. The title entered early-access in February 2016 and since then it’s quickly grown to become an instant hit. Now the game is finally making its way to retail and luckily enough its developers have also readied it for consoles.
The main objective of Portal Knights is to explore the unknown and, along the way, rid its lands of the Hollow Knights. On your way you’ll come across a plethora of different islands, each of which cycle through a variety of biomes. For instance, some of these include luscious grassy plains, sun-drenched deserts and perilous lava-filled hell pits. In addition, each biome features its own unique set of resources. To access these islands you need to enter portals (surprise!) that require you to craft different coloured portal blocks ranging from blue, green, yellow or red. Some islands will have more than one portal whereas others will have none. Fortunately, once you’ve travelled to an island once you can fast travel to it later and in total there are 47 different islands to discover.
Whilst you’re exploring and taking in the sights, enemies will steadily become more and more challenging to defeat, so what do you do? Craft new gear! Crafting is an integral part of Portal Knights (especially if you want to reach the end game), but before all of that you must create your first character and pick from either a Warrior, Ranger or Mage skill class. Warrior focuses on close quarters combat, Ranger focuses on, well, ranged attacks whereas Mage specialises in spells. What you start to craft will depend on which one of these you pick. I chose Ranger, so crafted an Archer station that allowed me to upgrade my armour and bow. Other crafting stations allow you to create chests, metal ingots, spells and even decorative items. Each of these stations can then be upgraded several times in order to give you access to higher level gear and items. The crafting in this game felt very natural to me and I got to grips with it very quickly. If you’ve never played games like Minecraft or Terraria, then I can understand that it can be a little confusing and sadly there isn’t much in the way of tutorials, either.
So now you’ve made a home on one of the islands and you’ve got some pretty swanky gear, what do you do next? The aim is to defeat all three bosses scattered across Portal Knight’s fractured world, however, the challenge is tracking each one down. You have a map which shows you where all the islands are located, but you won’t know where each portal leads to, it’s a bit hit and miss at times. The actual ‘story’ of the game isn’t very long at all and Josh I played the whole thing through in around 12 hours, but beyond that there’s so much more to accomplish. Various islands house NPC characters who will offer you quests in exchange for rare items or heaps of XP. There are also limited time events, which task you to go to a specific island to complete a challenge. You could, alternatively, set your own challenges like finding every island, upgrading all your crafting stations or getting the best gear possible. Challenges such as these are trophies in the game, so for those of you who are perfectionists there’s plenty to keep you going.
After 12 hours of play time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself and plan to unlock the game’s elusive platinum trophy. If you’re worried that the controls might be a bit clunky (coming from PC n’ all) don’t be, as I found them intuitive and easy to master. The game features multiplayer both online and local, but the only downside to this is that the universe you play in isn’t always online. For example, Josh and I played the whole game in my universe, but if I left the world then he would get kicked and essentially have to start again in his own world. It would be nice to see some sort of server feature which allows players to create a universe that stays online, so any of your friends could hop in and out as they pleased to continue resource gathering or base building.