King's Field Review

The unfaltering polygonal consistency of King's Field is mesmerizing after extended play.

Your beloved friends have drowned. Your possessions lie forever buried in the briny deep. Your honor is trampled. Your home, the prosperous kingdom of Verdite, faces annihilation at the hands of a power-hungry warlock's advancing armies. Verdite's last line of defense is the legendary Moonlight Sword, a long lost weapon of immense magical capacity. You are Alexander, royal knight and lone survivor of a perilous sea voyage to the island of Melanat, resting place of the Moonlight Sword. Your objective is all too clear: find the blade and escape.

This difficult, lengthy, first-person role-playing adventure thrusts you into Alexander's soaking shoes. Behold the fully-realized, seamless 3-D world that is King's Field: cold ocean laps at your ankles while stars twinkle overhead and Melanat is everything in between. Prepare for a great deal of swashbuckling and dungeon crawling. Real-time combat demands cunning and dexterity: once Alexander unleashes a full-force attack, he must regroup and gather his strength for the next strike. The same is true of casting magic spells. As expected, heavier weapons and particularly powerful enchantments require longer periods of recovery. There is little friendly discourse in the game, and the rare conversations with the handful of Melanat's kind-hearted denizens consist of passively listening to their problems and advice, along with the occasional buying and selling of goods.

Fully polygonal graphics with minimal texture mapping make for King's Field's clean, unpretentious look, though an overzealous use of earth tones in the visuals proves dreary and unsettling. Since the game is based on a mid-1995 Japanese release, its graphics look dated by today's high standards. However, the unfaltering polygonal consistency of King's Field is mesmerizing after extended play. Indeed, few games are this visually absorbing.

The game's inconsistent frame rate hovers between average and slow depending upon screen activity, while a forgettable synthesized music score detracts from the game's visual punch - though the sound effects are lush and vividly believable (most notably the guttural howls of Melanat's fauna).

King's Field is very challenging, and refuses to be completed in a day, or even a week or a month. This non-linear, immersive adventure role-playing game is filled with elegant scenery, memorable monsters, and many miles of frontier to explore. While King's Field may seem unpleasantly action-oriented to the traditional role-playing gamer, and the avid adventurer might find it sluggish, open-minded gamers should be more than pleased with King's Field's execution - if only because of the sheer size and grandeur of the setting.

The Good

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The Bad

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