For six years, Minecraft has captivated players to let their minds wander and create their own adventures. Portal Knights takes the Minecraft formula and adds a fresh coat of paint along with a greater focus on adventure. From exploring dungeons, collecting supplies, and fighting enemies, players will find plenty to keep them busy, but playing alone, they are sure to lose interest fast.
The staples from Minecraft are all present. Players gather resources to craft weapons, armor, and building materials, enemies are present during the day but are much more abundant at night, and with shallow pockets and danger around every corner, players are encouraged to build a home for storage and safety.
Starting out, players select between three character classes including warrior, ranger, and mage. Each character approaches combat differently and has access to different sets of armor. As you explore different worlds, complete tasks, and defeat enemies, you’ll level up, gaining attribute points to spend. You’ll also beef up your character with a talent every five levels. These talents can include damage boosts, shortened cooldown times, and increased health regeneration. The ability to switch between talents allows you to change up your playstyle a bit and is a welcome addition.
When it comes to creating your home, the world is your oyster. You can build a tall complicated tower, or keep it simple with a small hut. No matter what direction you take, Portal Knights made building a little easier for players. When standing on a block, players can point down and build directly underneath their character. This makes reaching higher places much easier, and also comes in handy when exploring or trying to escape from an enemy.
Setting up shop, players will find the workbenches from Minecraft they’ve grown used to. Taking one step further, each class has its own unique workbench which allows them to craft their own unique armor and weapons. Players unlock new items to craft with each upgrade to their respective workbench. As enemies level up through the worlds, players are never too far behind with new armor and weapons.
Players will explore 40+ randomly generated worlds, each filled with enemies, dungeons, and plenty of resources. All of this takes a backseat to portals. Throughout each world are numerous portal gates which lead to different worlds. Once players locate a portal gate, they must create six portal stones to open the gate. To create the stones, players must gather shards from either defeating enemies or locate them in dungeons. Shards are easy to come by early on, but later into the game, hunting for shards can be a grind, especially with later stones requiring more shards. Once the six stones are created, players can come and go from the newly opened world.
Each world tries to bring a new spin to different landscapes, but once you’ve seen a certain world, you’ve basically seen all worlds of that type. Your basics are all present, forests, deserts, mountains, snow, and tropical islands. Making things worse, enemies start to repeat across the different types of worlds. The Sand Shell in the desert worlds becomes the Moss Shell in the forest worlds.
While enemy variety may be lacking, they do put up a fight. Chaos ensues when a group of enemies attacks you all at once. While challenging, these fights can get sloppy. Your character will automatically lock on the closest threat, ignoring other enemies. Even worse, the camera will get caught behind blocks if you’re backed against a wall. A first-person view is present, but you are taken out of it as soon as combat begins.
No matter your class or weapon choices, combat can get repetitive. After getting used to attack patterns, each fight will come down to dodging, attacking, and repeating until your enemy is dead. Enemies become tougher as you progress through the worlds, but keeping up with weapon and armor upgrades will keep them from dominating you.
The bosses of Portal Knights are a great addition. Three in total, each is massive and presents players with a fun challenge not present through the rest of the game. The small number of bosses is disappointing, but players can face off against hard mode versions of each one. Unlocking the harder boss is a challenge on its own though.
Portal Knights truly starts to shine when you add friends to the mix. With up to three friends, exploring, crafting, and fighting feels less like a chore. Shard collecting also becomes less of a chore as you and your friends spread out to help build portal stones. Combat in tight areas can be chaotic as other players block your view of the battlefield. The previous gripes still stand, but at least you are suffering together, right?
With no matchmaking available, finding friends to play with can be challenging. Just like Minecraft, players will host their own worlds. This can cut you off from your progress in the world if the host player is unavailable. On a positive note, characters can be carried across different worlds hosted by other players.
Another small gripe with multiplayer is the inability to be in different worlds from each other. On multiple occasions, another player would need to teleport to another world for supplies. Instead of traveling alone, the game forces each player into the other world as well. To make matters worse, each teleport is met with a long loading screen. After fetching supplies, traveling back to our original location is just as bothersome.
If Minecraft was the ugly duckling, Portal Knights is the beautiful swan it grew up to be. What the worlds lack in variation, they more than make up for in quality. The cartoonish coat of paint adds life to the world, making both the environments and the enemies pop. While exploring, players may easily be distracted by the cherry blossoms, the lighting, and, of course, the water.
For those wondering about the soundtrack, Portal Knights follows closer to Terraria than to Minecraft. The music is more upbeat and sets the mood for each world, but it quickly wears its welcome as it loops through multiple times.
Portal Knights doesn’t reinvent the wheel Minecraft founded, but it does make some improvements. Classes along with attributes and talents add some variety to playthroughs. Building is also streamlined with some small but welcome changes. Playing through the 40+ worlds alone can get tedious pretty quick, but the inclusion of multiplayer makes the task a little less daunting.
- Great boss fights...
- Environments are beautiful
- ...But no matchmaking
- ...Could use more though
- Can get repetitive