Review: King Arthur: Knight’s Tale | Dark, beautiful and intriguing

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After their escapades in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, NeocoreGames invested in a dark take on the Arthurian legend that left me quite impressed but also slightly disappointed towards the end.

what you need to know

  • What is it? A turn-based RPG set in the afterlife of the Arthurian legend
  • Reviewed on: PC – Ryzen 5 3600, Radeon RX 5700 XT, 16GB RAM
  • Developer: NeocoreGames
  • Publisher: Wired Productions
  • Release Date: April 21, 2022
  • Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

NeocoreGames has come up with a fantastic take on the Arthurian legend in King Athur: Knight’s Tale. When you hear about King Arthur, you immediately have the image of noble knights fighting for good and searching for the Holy Grail. All of this would theoretically happen while you potentially taking on the role of the king yourself.

KA:KT took the formula and turned it on its head, resulting in a game where the unexpected lurks around every corner, although the overall adventure is fairly linear.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Discussion of the possible basis for a system of government

The narration in this game is pretty doozy. It begins with a movie set on a vast battlefield where King Arthur and his nemesis kill each other, resulting in a knight waking up in Avalon, the afterlife.

Do you remember the Arthurian formula mentioned above? Turning it on its head started with the movie itself, but continues once you take control of your first knight.

The game then has you form a round table with knights, often of less than noble intentions, fighting for survival in the afterlife and seeking the pieces of the grail to destroy. All of this happens while you take on the role of Sir Mordred, Arthur’s nemesis.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Sometimes Mordred is even helped by people he killed in Britannia

It was in that dark beginning that KA:KT grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I finished the rather long campaign. As the story progresses, we’ll meet, recruit, leave, or destroy some of the most significant characters in the legend.

Neocore really went above and beyond in creating the characters, as each and every one of them is unforgettable and just one look is enough to imprint the unique designs in your mind.

In addition, these would-be Knights of the Round Table are unique in personality, each with distinct assets and quirks, as well as morals and beliefs. Such a cocktail of features leads to well-defined personalities for you to explore, though the knights themselves don’t have many voice lines aside from their personal duties.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Your knights will also respond to your morality and religion

This cast of characters is augmented by the likely and unlikely allies you’ll encounter over the course of four acts of the campaign, and they’re largely what drives the narrative. Of course, there’s the overarching story of trying to solve the chaos caused by the Lady of the Lake backfire, but these smaller ones fill in the gaps in the meantime, giving you more purpose than just leveling and farming gear.

One major criticism I have of the exhibition is the voice acting. While most characters’ voices are well done, the smaller ones have voices that border on amateur. This problem is compounded by the fact that multiple supporting characters are voiced by the same people in different vocalizations that sounded equally bad without even attempting to use any sort of filter to disguise the process.

There are also situations where you’re reminded of comedic gold from almost 50 years ago, which is always good to see.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Mordred remembers not packing any holy grenades

Just as the rich treasure trove of characters makes storytelling better, it makes gameplay awesome. The large amount of knights that you can recruit gives you multiple team builds that you can use to discover and eventually dominate the battlefield.

Despite the large number of potential recruits, almost all are unique, even if they share a class. For example, Sir Balan and Sir Lancelot both belong to the Champion class, but the former eventually builds into a juggernaut focused solely on dealing damage that increases the more he kills. Lancelot, on the other hand, deals lesser but still significant damage, but also offers useful features like blinding enemies or reducing their action point pools.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

In some extreme cases, you can turn your champions into unstoppable monstrosities that trivialize any challenge

The differences are even more pronounced with the Arcanists, who basically play the role of a mage, but overall build diversity is stifled by some classes being underpowered compared to the more popular classes.

Still, this system is impressive, but it would be even better if it weren’t for the clunky handling of the roster. You can recruit up to 12 knights for active duty and up to four for reserve. When you recruit a new member, you cannot choose whether you want them on the reserve or active list – if you have a spot on the latter, they become active members immediately.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale may lack roster management systems, but the character design is impeccable

Again, it wouldn’t be bad if you could switch between reserves and assets, but that’s not the case. If you don’t have a free active slot, the only way to get someone off the bench is to fire an active knight and never see them again. This eliminates the ability to try different knights as you fill up the active roster, because if you don’t like the new one there’s no going back.

A cover system exists in this game but is not used very often, while the terrain dictates strategy only once in a blue moon. It feels like Neocore missed out on creating more diverse encounters for this reason, but the actual combat has kept me interested throughout.

One of the reasons is the extremely creative loot we can pick up, no doubt the result of years of work on W40K: Inquisitor – Martyr. A single item can boost your knight’s build or have you change it entirely to create the perfect killing machine, controller, or support.

When looting containers in KA:KT, I found the dopamine hits stronger than in true looter shooters of today – you know, the games that depend on that loot keep you interested, which says a lot about what the game offers.

This section is by far the weakest part of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale. Graphics aren’t bad per se, but there are numerous occasions when textures just fall out, creating some kind of monstrosity or strange environment.

It’s like they just disappear into the void, but the pixels still show the image behind them, giving you that odd feeling of controlling broken holograms.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale

The actual environments look pretty good, with the darker atmosphere emphasizing the poor state of the world while finding time to offer glimpses of beauty through the architecture and nature.

On the downside, it doesn’t look good enough to put GTA Online’s load times to the test, which this game does. It will feel like forever trying to enter the game, load a save, or even load into a new mission.

It just isn’t enough to justify the long loading times and heavy CPU load I was constantly experiencing. I haven’t pinpointed the issue, but the community seems to think it’s related to 4K textures being enforced for some reason and also the culprit behind the absolutely massive 121GB storage requirement.

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King Arthur: Knight's Tale

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale

Overall, the optimization isn’t on par and drags the rest of the game down. It remains to be seen if the problem will eventually be fixed, but the whole thing is reminiscent of Inquisitor Martyr, which was released years ago and only partially fixed the problems.

King Arthur: Knight’s Tale offers a ton of fun despite the flaws that try to drag it down. Knowing the work of NeocoreGames from the past, these developers were able to transform a mediocre Warhammer 40,000 game release into one of the best action role-playing games available.

Conversely, KA:KT was released in a much better state and it’s a fantastic game as it is, with the future only brightening if the developers keep the same habit of listening to fan feedback and implementing it.

Should you decide to buy in those early post-release days, you’ll likely also notice the flaws I’ve pointed out, but they won’t in any way stop you from having a good time. In short, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale lets you enjoy one of the best interpretations of a legend in existence and rewards you with showers of fantastic loot.

With that in mind, I would highly recommend it.

The good

  • Better loot system than even in loot based games
  • Extremely large selection of recruitable characters
  • Fantastic character design
  • Unique story in a well-known legend
  • Dozens of hours of fun for less than a AAA price
  • Refers to Monthy Python references on several occasions

The bad

  • Long loading times
  • Partly weak voice output
  • Occasional missing/glitchy textures

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