By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF), OnRPG Journalist
Kings and Heroes is an action MMO recently made available on Steam. It’s currently a buy-to-play title with a $20 price tag, created by Industry Games, a relatively unknown and new studio. Though the game has a price tag, it boasts that there is no subscription and absolutely no micro-transactions. This, combined with the art style and general make-up of the games mechanics, makes it harken back to the days when MMOs were simpler and the field was level for all players, no matter their wallet size. While that’s all good and noble, there is one question everyone reading will have: is Kings and Heroes worth the $20 investment? Let’s find out.
I am 50/50 on the customization in Kings and Heroes. On the one hand, I love the Dungeons and Dragons style of character creation and the overall setup of the character creation. It makes your character feel more special and unique, especially if you’re someone with pen and paper gaming experience. It brings back memories of creating a character in Villagers and Heroes. V and H had simple customization options, but the way the character creation was set up made the experience a lot more fun than games with dozens upon dozens of sliders and limitless color options for hair.
Speaking of limited customization options, that’s the case in Kings and Heroes. While I really liked the way the character creation was setup, the harsh reality is the bleak customization options. Whether it was a design choice or a limitation, it’s somewhat lame that I couldn’t do that much to make my character look interesting. I have no trouble believing that this could be a design choice, however. Almost everything about the game shouts ‘Early Era MMO’ and I’m almost certain the developers are going to try and play the ‘retro’ card at some point if they haven’t already. Simple character customization fits the MO of Kings and Heroes perfectly.
I’m also not completely decided on the graphics, either. They’re simple like what you would expect to see in early 00’s MMOs like World of Warcraft or City of Heroes. Both games (and now Kings and Heroes) had simple textures with low-poly models, but there was character in them that made the world interesting. Kings of Heroes adds a modern dimension: extremely far views and seamless node loading. So you can run to that mountain you see yonder without running into a load screen. Something I’m very fond of in modern MMOs. The developers could have gone with the retro feel, but thankfully didn’t take it nearly as far as Project Gorgon did. Overall, though, I have to say I’m not impressed with the graphics.
The game has a retro style, but I’m not sure if this is a design choice or not.
‘Alright’ describes the controls in Kings and Heroes perfectly. I wasn’t impressed, nor was I overly inhibited by the controls. There were some instances of clunkiness, but I never thought the game was unplayable. I suppose it’s an occurrence of, “If you’ve done everything right, no one will notice you’ve done anything at all.” In retrospect, though, there are obviously things that could have been done better, especially in terms of the default hotkey scheme. It was annoying to hit J (which is essentially the universally accepted key for ‘J’ournal), and have nothing happen. Still, while I was playing I didn’t have any serious issues with the controls.
There isn’t much of a community yet. I think this is mostly due to the price tag combined with the (until recently) ‘Mixed’ rating on Steam. I mentioned the ‘until recently’ because the recent rating for the game is “Mostly Positive,” so I assume that most of the issues people were having with the game have been fixed.
Kings and Heroes is an action MMO, which is to say that it is similar to a third (or first, if you choose) person shooter instead of a point-and-click like World of Warcraft. This has made it feel somewhat like a modern take on Asheron’s Call. That was a common recurrence while playing this game. I often thought, “This is like X game.” Which, depending on what you’re looking for in an MMO, may or may not be a good thing. Personally, for me, it wasn’t a good thing in most cases.
Past the action combat, Kings and Heroes is essentially your traditional point-and-click questing MMO with a few (very few) features to help set it apart. In your first few hours, you probably won’t be able to tell it apart from any other generic MMO, which is a massive game design issue. There’s charm to be found in the game; the issue is that the charm is hard to find. I found myself asking myself, “Why am I even playing” several times in the early levels before I started enjoying my time in the game. Without the incentives I have (it’s my job) I don’t see too many players sticking through it.
If you played Western MMOs in the early and mid 2000’s, this game will look and feel familiar.
But like I said, there is charm in the game. First, if you’re a fan of pen-and-paper style games, you’ll find the game has a sort of nostalgic taste to it, especially with the character creation. Second, it has a very retro old feel to it. If you told me this was a beta for Asheron’s Call 3, I would believe you. Unfortunately, despite it’s retro-feel, the mechanics are fairly generic for the most part.
Early quests are boring and repetitive.
Questing is your typical, “Talk to X,” “Kill X number of Wolves,” “Interact with X object on the ground” style quests with fairly basic stories thrown on. Some of the stories were interesting enough to follow. More often than not you’ll only read the quest text to figure out what you should be doing on the rare occasions where you can’t figure it out solely via the quest tracker. In short, I didn’t enjoy most of the questing, but some of it was worth while. And since most of the combat (which I’ll get into in a moment) is more hassle than fun, you’re going to be rushing through the questing as much as possible. Personally, I feel like they should have gone a more Project Gorgon route, where the quests were truly interesting and the mechanics were far from generic. I feel most players won’t want to put up with such a generic questing experience when there’s tons of other titles to check out.
Despite being action-based, the combat wasn’t that interesting.
Combat, at least for your first few hours, will probably be boring. As a spell-slinging wizard, I found myself bored of combat immediately. It got a bit better as my character progressed, but it was mostly a chore through-and-through. Combat begins to shine when you get to the dungeons the game has, some of which are fairly long and complex. The issue is that, compared to the rest of the game, these are few and far between and you’ll probably have more fun getting into another game (that is probably free) that has more overall content and potentially better mechanics.
If you want an OK dungeon crawling experience that may potentially ‘click’ with you, Kings and Heroes may be it. However, it’ll come at a price ($20 normally) and getting to the really good dungeon crawling will be a bit of a slog. It seems that, at least from Steam Reviews, you’re likely to find some enjoyment in the game if you can at least force yourself to endure fifty or so hours. Personally, I found myself not wanting to put too much time into the game. It has fun dungeons, but not much else yet. I feel like it’s more akin to an Alpha game and should probably be in Early Access at this point. I can’t exactly say the game isn’t worth playing, but be careful with your purchase as it’s the type of game that takes a certain type of player and probably won’t appeal to most readers. So, be wary with your purchase, but do a fair amount of research before you make your decision.
- Features: 2/5 – Not much, and nothing new.
- Customization: 3/5 – Interesting character creation, but with few choices.
- Graphics: 3/5 – I liked the style as it gave me a nostalgic feeling.
- Controls: 3/5 – Not bad, not good.
- Community: 3/5 – Small, but friendly.
Overall: 3/5 – This is a game that you’ll either love or you’ll hate.
Kings and Heroes Screenshots