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King’s Bounty: Dark Side

By Kelevandos29-07-2014
zethalee (editor)
drcoolio345 (editor)
King’s Bounty: Dark Side

The Defence

1C Company
Role Playing, Strategy
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 6600
AMD equivalent
1 GB
8 GB

Not long ago, Steam users were given the opportunity to try out the latest King’s Bounty Early Access title – The Dark Side. This next installment in the KB series is set to release this August, and for now the developers are taking advantage of the faithful community coming out of the alpha, patching and improving the game wherever possible. Yours truly happens to be part of said community, so let’s have a look at the game in its current form and what it’s poised to be.

While not exactly innovative in the technical aspect, featuring the same engine since The Legend, with improvements over time, The Dark Side instead focuses its innovation on the plot level. Rather than playing as a noble hero battling the forces of evil, the player gets to... yeah, the title says it all - we get to play as the bad guys! Hardcore fans of the series may find this change especially interesting, as it means that the undead units will finally become fun to play and not just a decorative addition.

New units are few but quite unique.

New units are few but quite unique.

Story-wise, King’s Bounty: The Dark Side appears to remain loyal to the series’ roots – we get lots of dark humor, plot twists and well-developed hero personalities. Speaking about hero personalities, for the first time in the King’s Bounty series, choosing a class means more than just a little protagonist hairstyle change. While the standard archetypes remain untouched, they are now impersonated by three heroes of the Dark – Bagyr the Orc as Warrior, Neoline the Demoness as Paladin, and Daert the Vampire as Mage. They form a trio of heroes of the Dark, sworn to battle those of the Light. This is an interesting approach, especially as some situations end differently depending on the persona chosen.

The core gameplay remains intact – our (anti)hero gets to traverse the map in real time, actively dodging enemy armies and collecting treasures. When one of the enemies gets too close, a battle begins. Each of the combatants moves their units in turns, with the goal being the annihilation of the opposing side. While the combat system is similar to the previous installments, there are some changes as well. Magic system has been updated with a bunch of new spells, and the Rune Magic spells have been moved into three basic categories, meaning that the runes system from Warriors of the North is no more. This updated combat also brings a new companion: Blackie the... Something, a grim little spirit with the power to summon into battle the skills of the three companions. These are diverse as always, ranging from direct damage to placement-sensitive damage to illusion making the enemies do... yeah, damage. The first three (out of nine total) skills I got to use were actually quite a bit of fun, in no way inferior to those found in the previous games of the series.

As I mentioned earlier, the game runs on the engine of the first installment, The Legend. While some will surely perceive this as a bad thing and keep ever so vigorously asking for a true King’s Bounty 2, most of the community seems pretty satisfied with this. If I can be honest – the fairytale-ish, comic-like graphics of King’s Bounty are not something prone to aging, and developers keep adding enough new content for the games to stay fresh.

We finally get to prey on the weak and helpless NPC's. How cool is that?!

We finally get to prey on the weak and helpless NPC's. How cool is that?!

Of course, a King’s Bounty game could not be called whole without an awesome, epic soundtrack. The Dark Side does not disappoint either – our ears get to delight in well-known tracks by Lind Erebros, but also on a couple of new ones.

Summing all this up, King’s Bounty: The Dark Side is a game worth waiting for and purchasing afterwards. Being an ingenious mix of the known and the new, it will be a great addition to any player’s collection, and the fans of the series simply have to get it. The release date is set for August 14th with two versions announced: Standard and Premium, the latter coming with a handful of in-game goodies. In addition, every participant in the Early Access program will automatically receive the Premium Edition on launch.

And a final warning – while the Early Access version is very enjoyable, please be aware that it is actually more of a developer build, meant for debugging and improvement rather than anything else. The maps are pretty empty, the hero gets levels at set points, a couple at once etc. If you are not a hardcore fan and do not plan to replay the game several times, you may be better off waiting for the release, or purchasing now and playing later. In any case, you have been warned.

Comments (3)
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Posts: 3290

Very Rammestein

Posts: 127

Yeah, just a bit of a revampired version :-D

Posts: 3290

Is...is that Snow White?