For the King!

I've been playing a little game which came to Xbox Game Pass very recently, a fun game, a game which I am both in love with, but also frustrated by - because really I just don't like to fail. We got sent code for this on Xbox One.

I'm talking about For the King, and frankly, I'm really enjoying this game.

It's not an easy game, but there's a variety of difficulty options which will make it easier/harder depending on what you go for.

What's For the King anyways?

It's a turn based adventure strategy game with hex-based movement and turn-based combat.

The best way to describe For the King is a fantasy rogue-like where death is always around the corner, the stakes are high, and you're going to die ... a lot. But whilst you'll always go back to the beginning, you'll keep a currency called Lore which will allow you to slowly unlock new things in the Lore Store.

There's none of those pesky micro-transactions, this is all about unlocking in-game content via in-game currency accrued through several play sessions with the game. It's all about using your victories and defeats to get Lore and buy new characters, items, gear, locations, costumes and more for your band of heroes.

Note: There are a few characters that're hidden on the world map, and must be unlocked in play before you can get them in the store.

Quest: for the King!

Pick your Quest adventurer: The console versions of the game come with all previous released DLC and modes. So there's a lot to get for your money's worth and a pretty-endlessly replayable slew of content. For this review we'll be concentrating on the main questline of For the King though.

There are six of these modes and For the King is the original story mode, along with this though you have the Dungeon Crawl (no story), Frost Adventures (A much harder campaign), Hilderbrant's Cellar (Endless dungeon that gets harder and harder), Gold Rush (an 'uncooperative mode'), and Into the Deep (sea faring adventures with boats and kraken).

Once you've picked your quest, chosen any house rules or difficulty and modes, you get to assemble a 3 person band from the unlocked characters you've got access to at the start:

Blacksmith: Think of them like a warrior, they have a hammer and hit hard.

Hunter: You want to attack from range, and be a badass with a bow, this is where you start.

Scholar: Books eh, yeah, you love them. Also, love burning your enemies with magical doo-dad sorcery.

Minstrel: Support class, kind of like a Bard, because everyone has to have some kind of Bard in their group. Darn, musicians!

These characters can be customised and you can change the gender, eventually you can also get more cosmetic looks for them and different costume skins.

Each character has a set of core stats, which you can refer to when you look at the game help. These are basically: Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, Awareness, Talent, Speed, Luck, Armour, Resistance, and Evasion. I'm not going to go into the stats and what they do, but they govern a lot of the tests in the game and they'll come into play throughout your adventure in some way/shape/form.

Once you've decided what your party is going to be, you'll be dumped onto the world map and every single playthrough is randomly generated in terms of the creatures and events that you'll encounter as you make your way through the quest.

The King is dead, and the Queen wants heroes. That's all I'm going to say on the subject, since you're going to be weaving your own story of trials/tribulations/adventurer and glory from this moment on. Through single player, or co-op (online as well) you'll take your band of 3 heroes from rags to riches as you face off against what monsters and events the game throws at you.

Each character is controlled independently, and has a roll to determine how far they can move on their turn. You can interact with locations in the world, shop and gear up at towns, resting in inns and so on.

You can discover secrets, fight monsters and all the while you need to remember that since you're moving three characters independently of each other, you might want to ensure they remain fairly close so they don't get ambushed by a sudden monster attack and miss out on a battle where they can earn loot and experience.

Each character has a resource called Focus; this will come into play during various tests and in combat. Think of it as a way to tilt the die rolls in your favour and ensure you always get a solid outcome on a roll.

There's a day/night cycle and a Chaos timer which counts down, the more Chaos the land has, the harder things get and the nastier monsters become. You can beat back the Chaos by finding and destroying Chaos Generators and taking part in special encounters. You can also take down Haunts and Scourges, which are basically nasty special encounters which can have very detrimental effects on your playthrough at the time - making things even harder by adding debuffs to your quest and characters.

You'll be spending a lot of time collecting gear, fighting monsters, and equipping your characters each and every run. Just don't expect to survive for too long when you first play, just bear in mind the game's designed to be challenging and tough.

Fight, fight, fight!

Eventually, sooner rather than later, you're going to be caught in a battle and if your characters are in range of each other you'll be able to bring in the full 3 character party.

You can also attempt to ambush bad guys. It's here you can spend Focus to help improve the chances of this happening. Starting a battle with the upper hand is always good.

Combat is turn based and you can employ various attacks/items and abilities as you attempt to destroy the foes before you. Focus can be spent here too to ensure you'll get a solid hit, a critical or a special effect. It's all self-explanatory though, and intuitive - you'll get the hang of it in no time at all.

Arrows fly, spells sizzle, and hammers smash as you try and finish off the enemies. You can use belt items to heal your characters, but supplies are limited to what you brought with you when you were at a town or what you found recently.

You can always attempt to flee as well, but remember, you'll need to roll to escape and each character has to try that... so if it goes wrong, you might end up with a sudden slaughter as the Scholar can't get away from those teeth and claws.

When combat's over, you'll get XP, you'll get loot and might even get some Lore which can be spent later on for goodies in the store.

Aesthetic Adventures

For the King has a fun art style, and whilst it's devilishly hard at times, the graphics and the animations ensure that it's also always a joy to play. Even though you're defeated you've always got another go to clear a dungeon or get a bit further. You can try out different characters, or even unlock a brand-new one in the store.

Hint: Herbalists are amazing and expensive.

The music is good, the sound effects and sound design in general are excellent.

Solo or Co-op

Yep, this game scores big points for me for including a co-op option for offline as well as online. Up to 3 of you can play together over Xbox Live and you just need to remember to coordinate your movement and attacks so you can get the best out of your adventure. Also, don't be a stinge with the loot - share and share alike.

A Few Issues

There's one glaring issue we've had on the Xbox One version of the game so far, and it's crashed a few times sending us back to the desktop. Fortunately the checkpoint saves have ensured no loss of progress so far, but it's still a bit irksome to see.

Hopefully it'll be fixed pretty soon, since it's a really fun and challenging game.

For the Queen too!

It is solid value for money too with all the content and random generated maps/encounters and unlockable content.

Remember as well, it's on Xbox Game Pass at the moment, so you can try it out if you're on that service.

To arms!