GDC 2018: For The King Hands On Impressions

Monday, April 30th, 2018

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For the King | Logo

Platform(s): Steam, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Curve Digital
Release Date: Out Now (Steam); 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
IronOak Games Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

During GDC 2018, I was promised a ‘surprise’ title for the Nintendo Switch by Curve Digital, and I was surprised to find out that that title was IronOak Games’ For the King. For The King (which started life as a Kickstarter campaign in 2015) is a graphical throwback to the days of the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn, combined with a modern day procedurally-generated gameplay that has a lot of classic JRPG and Tactical RPG combat flavor in it. If all of this sounds like a mish-mash of something that just simply wouldn’t work due to how disparate the different parts of For the King are, then you couldn’t be more wrong.

For the King | Graphics

For the King | Graphics

For The King is a game whose graphics are clearly inspired by the 32 and 64-bit generation, with only the most minor updating. (Images courtesy of IronOak Games).

During my time with For The King, the developers sat me down and encouraged me to create my own party of three to explore the map with. I picked a Blacksmith, a Herbalist, and a Trapper to make up my team. As I started the game, I was given a series of quests to complete by an NPC and then turned loose on the hexagonal tile game world. As I mentioned earlier, For the King is a procedurally-generated world, so that means that no two playthroughs are the same. It also means that not even the developers could tell me the quickest route to complete each of the three quests. So I split my team up to cover more of the map, quickly finished two quests (to the developers surprise – the quests were located fairly close to the party’s spawn point), and then hunted for the third.

For the King | Frost Map

For the King | Map

The ‘boards’ (For The King actually originated as a board game before it transitioned to a video game) all span different types of environments, but are all comprised of the same hexagonal tiles. (Images owned by IronOak Games).

It was at this time that the combat and tactical system in For The King began to really shine as I would land on a tile and encounter random battles. The combat itself is classic JRPG fare – attack, use items, etc. What makes For The King unique -and really drew me into it, to be honest- was how each character and enemy has to roll a variable number of ‘dice’ (and the game helpfully provides a number of the likelihood of success) in order to determine whether the attack was successful or not. This mechanic actually reminded me a bit of Dungeons & Dragons in its execution.

Instead of just leaving everything purely to chance without any thought of how an attack should be used, For The King has introduced a ‘focus’ point system that keeps things interesting. Each party member has a number of ‘focus’ points that they can use. Each time you use a focus point in For The King, one of the dice rolls in that next attack WILL become a successful roll. Very quickly, it becomes a game of when to use these rolls or not to use these rolls. I’ll be honest: I started to use them early on before I understood the true value of potentially saving them for a really nasty encounter that could kill me.

For the King | Combat

Parties consist of three members apiece, but you only can use all three if they happen to be traveling together on the map. Otherwise…you may end up in a nasty encounter with just one. The yellow dots above the character names are your focus points. (Image owned by IronOak Games).

Towards the end of my demo, I was able to try out a dungeon. Dungeons are set up like gauntlets in For The King. You have to clear a series of rooms, one after another, before you can clear the dungeon itself. There are fight rooms, trap rooms, and a chest room at the end. In my dungeon, I went through a fight, a trap, another fight, and then was able to get the final chest at the end. All in all, it was very hard to survive so many fights back-to-back, and I only barely managed to pull it all off and collect the chest at the end to get my reward.

For the King | Cave

My dungeon quest took place inside of a cave, much like this one. You just go forward from room-to-room in dungeons. (Image owned by IronOak Games).

Overall, I thought my time with this game was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to picking up For The King myself. There is supposed to be solo, online co-op, and local co-op play options as well for the party. In order words, you can play with -and screw over- your friends and strangers in For The King as you explore the world.

For The King is out now on Steam. For The King is furthermore coming to the Nintendo Switch at a later date this year.



What do you think of the unique style of a board game in a tactical RPG/JPRG? What class would you like to play as?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at interviews@oprainfall.com