Dark. Dreary. Almost devoid of life. Unforgiving. Old School. But for some reason, I keep coming back to this game!

User Rating: 8 | King's Field: The Ancient City PS2
This wasn't my first king's field game, but it's the one I've played the most over the years. Having recently purchased a 60gb PS3 with the emotion engine chip, I wanted to breathe new life in this title that had been collecting dust for years on my shelf.

Honestly I figured I'd fire it up for an hour, just for nostalgia sake and then shelf it back whence it came... But I got sucked in once again! Being a little more open minded to puzzle games and having more patience definitely helped me ease back into the world of King's Field.

The game is played entirely in the first person perspective, and the RPG elements are very old school. Even lovers of Ultima Underworld will find KF's world mostly devoid of life and very vast. That's not to say it's boring, though. Most of the game play comes from exploring and figuring out puzzles by trial and error. Hint-giving NPCs are very rare and if you have to use your noggin and be prepared to fail often in order to succeed in the end. But that's just where the magic comes from; it's rewarding once you finally pass that certain spot.

A few times I've had to turn the game off and play it another day because save points are another thing that don't show up often, and dying can happen very quickly / easily, forcing you to load up a previous save game. No fable-style dying here... If you didn't save, you have to restart everything you've just done. Of course there are strategies to help alleviate this, such as once you find a save point, return to it anytime you do a particular bit of progress even if it means a few minutes of backtracking.

There are lots of weapons, armor, spells and even secrets in this vast game, but getting them won't be easy. There are also different stats for each weapons, numbers that represent their attack style. For example, a sword will have a high slash number, a rapier will have a high stab number, and certain of these aspects are more affective towards a particular enemy. You can imagine that a rapier (stab) wouldn't be very effective against a skeleton.

Weapons also level up. After getting to level 3 some weapons can cast magic once swung. I recommend reading the details in an online walkthrough / guide though as it can get a little tricky.

Although this may seem like a first-person dungeon crawler, it's more like a puzzle RPG. Normally I'm not a fan of puzzle games, but when they're melded in with the RPG genre, I'm ok with it. Thinking, exploring and experimenting will yield rewards in this game, not hacking and slashing through endless hordes of enemies.

Speaking of which, enemies can sometimes appear very stupid as far as AI goes. You'll notice often, specially in the beginning, that enemies seem to follow the same instructions; that is, follow you around like you're a magnet and occasionally they'll get disoriented and spin around. Trust me, after a while, monsters start to have more tricks up their sleeves and the difficulty ramps up quite unexpectedly, so be prepared.

Graphically, I found it to be one of the nicer PS2 titles, probably because I'm a sucker for first person games, specially RPGs. The framerate is fairly stable and rarely drops noticeably. Music can get a little repetitive at times as the loops are fairly short, and sounds are fairly basic (typical from software stuff that we're used to).

In any case, obviously I'm reviewing an older title, and one that only a niche crowd would play anyways. If you happen to be on the lookout for a unique RPG for the PS2 (or backwards compatible PS3) and don't mind a really high learning curve and difficulty, then King's Field: Ancient City is well worth a try. Along with a few other western-style RPGs (ironic that it's a Japanese developer that did this one), this one is in my top list for PS2.