A blend of new and old ideas make for a deep and engaging single-player experience

User Rating: 8.5 | King's Bounty: The Legend PC
The year 1996 means a lot to me. Besides being the year that I discovered Tool and Korn, it was also the year I started playing Heroes of Might and Magic (II), a game series that King's Bounty: The Legend owes a great deal to, and a specific niche of turn-based games that I've been fond of.

Or to be more precise, and make the above almost completely superfluos, King's Bounty (1990) was the game that started the Heroes of Might and Magic series - but that was a completely different version than the one Katauri designed in 2008, which is the one I'm reviewing today.

In short, the new version of King's Bounty (called Battle Lord until Katauri bought the rights to the name King's Bounty) is based on many of the principles of the Heroes of Might and Magic games - but the main difference is that King's Bounty: The Legend is a pure single-player game and as such, Katauri was more free to make the game a big journey throughout the land instead of a collection of different maps and scenarios that the HOMM series is famous for.

In fact, this very distinction makes all the difference, as King's Bounty: The Legend is not the base-building experience that you might expect - in fact, you have no base or city at all. And while that may sound a bit off-putting for a lot of HOMM fans, it is a very well designed game mechanic - because instead of hiring units from your town, you'll have to find the units at various places around the land(s), and most of these units are in limited stock, so you'll have to plan ahead before engaging armies and monsters. Not only are the monsters in limited stock, but the hero you are controlling (and you only have one) have limited leadership abilities as well, and although he is able to control larger armies as he advance in levels, a large part of the strategy in King's Bounty is based in your ability to reduce loses in your army and at the same time making progress.

Is I have implied in the above description, this calls for a relatively deep RPG element in the game, and the developers has made sure that you'll find plenty of reasons to look forward to the next level advance. Apart from getting more skills (in a very Diablo inspired skill tree, and it fits perfectly to this game - and skills have an additional cost in the scarce runes found throughout the land) level progress - depending on the class you've chosen - will also give you more leadership giving you larger armies. Picking up flags, which you'll find plenty of by exploring, will also increase leadership.

All in all, King's Bounty: The Legend is a great game for those who want a deep RPG/Turn-based game. If you have to look at the shortcomings of this game, it may be a bit too slow in the level advancement, and you have to remember this is a pure single-player experience - there is no multiplayer part to this game, neither online nor hot-seat, so if you want to play a similar game with your friends, Heroes of Might and Magic V (with the expansions) comes highly recommended. But as it is, King's Bounty is a great oldschool experience with a lot of solid gameplay and creative twists to an old concept, to make it fresh and fun - and it doesn't require a very powerful PC to run and look well.