King’s Bounty II
Hardly fit for a king
Most tactical RPGs tend to not give the latter half of this genre blend its due. Sure, using different character types to take down enemies in turn-based fashion is fun, yet few capitalise on what it truly means to build up the status of your protagonist or main party of heroes. Not so in the case of King’s Bounty II, a sequel which focusses on its character-driven story just as much as strategy. The fact both aspects are balanced should elevate it well above its peers, but uneventful battle animations and poor technical performance hold it back.
At least the foundation for combat is solid. Rather than take part in battles yourself as one of three selectable heroes, your duty is to guide your squad to victory from afar whenever danger presents itself.1 The joy in this comes from being able to combine the skills of, say, spearmen and archers with a pack of hungry wolves or an undead skeleton army. The ability to have such an eclectic mix of troops fight together is a great hook. It means it’s possible to alter your strategy wildly when making key tactical decisions across the hexagonal grid. But sadly the wildness doesn’t go as far as the visuals – if only these skirmishes played out a little more cinematically.
Battles present a good amount of challenge from the off, too. You constantly have to weigh up which troops to recruit and swap in depending on the enemy you face. Sadly, while both the combat and character work are decent,2 the PS4 version of the game struggles with framerate at almost every camera turn – to the point that it never stops being a distraction. King’s Bounty II simply lacks much of the visual flair and polish we’ve come to expect from modern high-fantasy epics.
FOOTNOTES 1 The one way your character can affect battles is through one-time use spells. 2 King’s Bounty II gives off Witcher vibes outside battles.