King's Bounty: The Legend Hands-On

Almost 20 years after the original King's Bounty, the legend continues.

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The kingdom of Darion was once a peaceful place, but those days are over. The setting for the upcoming King's Bounty: The Legend is now populated by werewolves, necromancers, undead monsters, and man-eating plants that look like they were cultivated at the Little Shop of Horrors. As in any good fantasy game worth its weight in rupees, it's up to you as either a warrior, mage, or paladin class to clean up Darion and, above all, serve the king.

Combat in King's Bounty is turn-based and fraught with dragons.

We played through several hours of a demo version of King's Bounty and are pleased to report that fans of the old-school turn-based role-playing game should enjoy the familiar gameplay mechanics as well as a few new surprises. First we chose a mage from the three preset classes. There are no immediate player-customization options, but you will equip a number of items as well as pick and choose your way through skill trees moving forward. The mage specializes in magic, the warrior in combat, and the paladin dabbles in both. We went with the mage, simply because he had the coolest costume of the bunch.

Immediately you are thrust into the service of the king and told to undergo training with Iron Tooth Richard, a grizzled veteran soldier charged with teaching raw recruits. After enjoying a humorous text conversation with Richard, we started our first training test: to rescue the princess from the dragon. Movement throughout the gameworld is all in real time--simply point and click with your mouse to explore, pick up items, and converse with fellow citizens. Combat, on the other hand, brings you into a turn-based mode. Our mage didn't actually take to the battlefield himself. Instead, he had an army at his command with a number of unit types that fill five unit slots. In combat you may see a single peasant move across the honeycomb-shaped squares of the battlefield, but the number 27, for example, indicates there are really 27 peasants on the prowl for evil monsters.

We had a flaming-arrow magic attack available from the outset. It is only available once per turn and depletes the magic meter, but the powerful missile from the sky deals a lot of damage, and we couldn't resist using it over and over again against the wily dragons. The turns passed and the dragon blew fire at us, but the brave knight and his swordsmen proved victorious. The combat is slower paced, of course, but it's a nice throwback to the turn-based RPGs of old.

After passing Richard's tests, we entered the kingdom proper and met the king and his young daughter. We were enlisted as the king's treasure hunter for our ability to rustle up gold and told to go forth and collect the king's bounties. But first, we used the contents of our purse to replenish our unit slots with swordsmen and archers. As mentioned, Darion is a dangerous place.

On the adventure map, red dots indicate enemies. You can simply ride your horse around them and try to pick up crystals and gold littering the roadsides, or you can engage the enemies in battle. Then again, they may choose to engage you. Either way, the top-down adventure map reverts to the turn-based battle screen and you'll be forced to slay the enemies or perish. If you lose, you'll be returned to the castle, where you can purchase more units and replenish your ranks.

The demo version had plenty of invisible walls that kept us within a stone's throw of the castle, but there was one main quest available to dive into. Man-eating plants have invaded the area, making life miserable for a small village just outside the castle walls. The village leader told us to find the leader of the plants, a giant red plant, on the banks of nearby lake. Eventually we found the giant red plant and had a conversation with it. It seems that the soil of their native land was no longer "tasty," and the plants were forced to survive off "two-leggers..." or humans. In the branching dialogue tree we had the option to attack the monster at any time, but we chose instead to hear out its problems and return to the village leader and let him know the plants' predicament. He suggested we give the plant a cow to fertilize the plants' land, so we bought a cow, returned to the monster plant with the gift, and the monster promised not to eat the villagers anymore. Problem solved, quest log updated.

Choose your own path on skill trees based on your preferred play style. We like trying to kill everything that moves.

Our action was limited to this small area, but we did see several other kingdoms on the map, including the Freedom Islands, Ellinia, Kordar, and Murok. The typical races are in play: humans, dwarfs, elves, orcs, undeads, and demons. Thankfully you'll be able to outfit yourself in a number of interesting ways to better fend off your enemies. There are item slots for weapons, helmets, armor, shields, boots, and belts, with an endless number of options. The first helmet we found was actually a clay flowerpot; our first shield a wheel from a cart. We found it's best to head to the castle shop for more powerful--and expensive--items.

So far, we've enjoyed the smooth battle animations and sense of humor in the numerous text conversations. King's Bounty: The Legend has already won several awards in its native Russia, and is slated for release in North America later this year. Until then, fans of old-school RPGs certainly have something to look forward to.

Discussion

38 comments
Valderein
Valderein

Real Role Playing games! Not hack & slash fakes, like all of the PS junk. I regret ever buying one!

osama99
osama99

We need more turn-based goodness to relieve us from all the crap ThreeDeeFirstPersonFakeRPGs out there. Bring it on!

sebake41
sebake41

looks nice , maybe at last a nice RTS

kvozar
kvozar

Oh... NO-o-o... Another "Heroes"... But not such bad as 1st parts.

kvozar
kvozar

looks like Diablo2

enoslives7
enoslives7

I used to love that Genesis game. My ghosts would always go out of control and turn on me though....

bodylotion
bodylotion

Roleplaying Turn Based Classic RPG :D

JcDent
JcDent

Now, if russian actually manage to translate their stuff into english properly, it will kickass

StullOtopen
StullOtopen

Looksa like a really nice game :D Maybe i'll try it. Thanks for the preview

mkraush
mkraush

This was one of the first RPG's I remember playing, I had it for Sega Genesis. I don't think there were very many RPG's on Sega, but I think I found it when I was visiting my cousin's house and they didn't even have a sega anymore so I just took it home. I got addicted to it pretty bad.

megadisc
megadisc

like that har so what number u buy? i buy opposite wan since it wont come out hehe ;p but i just love dragons @->--

Plukh
Plukh

I've actually been playing a new King's Bounty for a couple of weeks now, and I must say that the game is amazing, it is absolutely and utterly addictive. It is the first game in ~ 15 years to cause me issues with my day job responsibilities (the previous one was Eye of the Beholder 2, for those who are interested). KB's release in Russia was marred by bugs and copy protection issues, but I'm sure all of that will be solved by the time it hits international market (in fact, now, with patch 1.5, it's been rock-stable on my PC, and I hadn't had a single issue with it at all for the past week or so).

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

Well Fantasy Wars by the same developers was Strangely Addictive as hell and I ended up loving it and playing through almost to the end. It gets VERY difficult. Where every move matters whether you'll win or lose, and even if you win. You have to worry your resources and how much of your Army lives to carry you forward in every future battle. I love that kind of planning and tactics so its great fun! I hope they maintain this level of strategy and challenge in King's Bounty.

melfariza
melfariza

i remember playing KB on the Genesis for hours in one sitting until the plastic casing enclosing the power adapter melted. Literally.

hellrazr09
hellrazr09

"As in any good fantasy game worth its weight in rupees,.." - 'Rupees' Hmmm

dudesyeah
dudesyeah

Seriously. u sound pretty cool for an old lady. lol

retiredoldlady
retiredoldlady

I love these kind of pc games. Thanks for the review I shall look to ad it to my collection.

innerthief
innerthief

Already playing it! Perfect game!!

samsungx360
samsungx360

go go producers bring it faster!! :P

dennis8
dennis8

sounds interesting.. cant wait :D

hamidious
hamidious

I'm anticipating this game. Thanks to Naval for bringing it to my attention.

lostn
lostn

Genre is erroneously labelled as "Real Time Strategy" when it should be "Turn Based RPG".

ChristianKiss
ChristianKiss

It seems that will be a superb game. I also played the first one (PC and Megadrive) and loved it. But no multiplayer, so far? Anyway, I'm almost sure that will be better than Heroes V and those uninspired expansions. When I noticed that King's Bounty will be remaked, I immediately looked at the developer's name. Russian or whatever... no Ubisoft? Great.

cantrips
cantrips

Awesome. KB is one of my favourite games of all time. I still play it every now and then (can finish it in under an hour, even with killing Arech Dragonbreath) :D I just hope they didn't screw it up :-O

chancellor28
chancellor28

The old game was a blast, I was shocked to see it being remade. SHould be good fun.

staticgod
staticgod

yea . seems to me a promising title. a pc style turn based rpg is a rare thing since 1998. i hope this game can revive this lovely genre.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

At least Gamespot didn't say, like another Gaming site, that the 9+ scores given to this game in Russia could be based purely on the fact it's a home-grown Russian developed game! Can you imagine anyone dare saying that an American game got 9+ scores from American gaming sites like Gamespot just because they were developed in the U.S?!

Icehearted
Icehearted

Talk about a freakin' flashback! I had this on my Genesis way back in the day and whenever I'd played Heroes of Might and Magic I automatically thought of the original game. I'd always wanted to see a sequel or at least something, so I'm pretty excited. I hope this develops well, and I hope the results live up to the classic. Boy this takes me back.

naval
naval

One of my most anticipated games this year

mythentity
mythentity

Heroes of Might and Magic was born from this game's gameplay, so I'm looking forward to it.

ronnoc10
ronnoc10

I hadn't heard of this, but now I'm very excited. I'm a big fan of turn-based RPGs like this and still play Heros of Might and Magic III on occasion.

agentfred
agentfred

I'll keep my eye out for it (not that I haven't already been doing so).