Even though King’s Field was one of the early PlayStation Games (It was released in Japan long before it was released in the US) it still stands alone, unique in its combination of genres. This title is the first one that we know of to combine its two popular game formats into a seamless whole.
You are Alexander, the brother of King Alfred. Your brother’s lands are being attacked by monsters which the King is unable to defeat. This is because his magic sword, the Great Moonlight Sword, has been stolen. All evidence suggests that the sword is on the extremely dangerous island of Melenat, in the possession of the evil Necron. As a brave volunteer, you travel to the island, but you ship is destroyed by monsters at sea. Wet, bedraggled and armed only with a dagger, you crawl onto the beach, the sole survivor. But on this island you might not survive much longer…
The action in this game is of the first person shooter variety. Or perhaps we should say first person slasher, as most of the fighting is done close in, with swords and other weapons. All your opponents are polygonal and well animated, as are the items, and backgrounds. Fighting with a sword in the first person is a little difficult at first, you can’t just blast away Doom-style. More finesse is required if you don’t want to get hit in return. Dashing in to attack, then pulling back out of range is a fairly good strategy. Attacking monsters from the side, or from behind is even better.
King’s Field is also a complete RPG. Players fight to gain experience which allows them to go up levels. Higher levels give you more hit points, more power, and more magic. As players explore the island, they will find new weapons, artifacts, armor, clues, traps, gold and magical items. Gold can be used to purchase items from merchants on the island. This is classic medieval RPG at its best.
The graphics, are smooth and quite good, especially for the time it was produced. The texture maps are rather bland and boring in many cases, with featureless faces on the characters. But the polygons are plentiful and the monsters’ actions are animated well. King’s Field II should solve these minor flaws. The sound is appropriately gloomy, but it lacks any real spark of originality. It also gets repetitive very quickly, and this is a very long game. After the first hour or so, you will probably want to turn off the back ground music in the options menu and put some good music. Make sure you leave on the sound effects, which are excellent and offer important clues during game play.
This game will not appeal to anyone who enjoys quick-fix non-stop action. It takes a long time to learn, and a very long time to solve. The mazes are good, with enough variation to keep them interesting. One poorly done section of maze involves teleportation cubes that makes it almost impossible to map. For some reason, many RPG’s have mazes like this at some point during the game. Attention all game designers! Tedious, difficult to map mazes where all the halls look the same are not fun! This section of the dungeon in King’s Field is simply irritating and the game would have been better off without it.
In short, King’s Field is a first person action title that adds the strategy, thought, and depth of an RPG. No instant gratification here, but there is something very appealing about a first person game where you can build up your character slowly over time. To arms!