I’ve been following Rumble Games as a company for awhile ago (mostly because I was headhunted for various careers with them a number of times in the last year) but didn’t know much about KingsRoad, their new action RPG that launched in open beta today. I decided to stop in and try it out, and was (mostly) pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of the Diablo-type games, though I did buy Diablo 3 last year and I have played Torchlight and Torchlight 2 in various degrees of extensiveness.
KingsRoad follows the formula of its predecessors by the book, with nothing really out of the ordinary or unique about the game. But what it does, it certainly does well. First of all, the game is beautiful. Once you put this baby in fullscreen mode, it’s very easy to forget that you’re playing a browser-based game. It’s polished and robust and the UI is crisp and easy to read and everything feels high quality about KingsRoad. The performance was great on my PC (though I linked it to a friend and he got a client load error that he couldn’t get past). You start out as a generic adventurer and after you learn how to move and attack and equip items, you get to choose from one of three classes: Archer, Knight, or Wizard. Notably, you cannot play as a female character in this game. That’s almost always a dealbreaker for me, but I wanted to see what more KingsRoad had to offer so I kept playing. (Note to Rumble: it would be awesomely inclusive if you had a gender selector on this game, not just men play action RPGs!)
There isn’t a whole lot of variety (read: no variety) in the body types of the three classes. Every character will look the same: a brawny dude with a beard. The armor seems to offer a bit of customization, though by level 6 I didn’t get anything too interesting looking aside from a neat staff. I chose Wizard, and was given a skill point to pick my first spell. Naturally, I picked the fireball because that’s what wizards do, right? For my second point I ended up choosing the ice spell which I didn’t find as useful as blowing things up EN FUEGO STYLE.
The world looks pretty nice. Though I was traipsing through mostly generic forests, blowing up crates and barrels and slaughtering skellies and spiders in typical action RPG fashion, I get the sense from the overworld map that KingsRoad offers quite a large amount of play experience and likely a bigger variety of terrain to look at. The quests are standard and the story is just fine, though pretty generic. Everything about the game was kind of generic to be honest — the world was fantasy but not particularly exciting or unique and the characters all look generic and even the music (while a nice touch) is generic fantasy sounding music. Although, sometimes that’s not a huge problem.
KingsRoad seems to offer up a nice lightweight experience for playing a browser-based RPG for fans of Torchlight and Diablo who just can’t get enough. The freemium nature of the game seemed as if it could get overbearing: opening chests takes gems, as does combining items and using the blacksmithing system. I worry that the game might be pretty limiting for players who don’t pay, although I didn’t run into any problems in the hour or so that I spent in it tonight. I’m interested to keep trying to play more to see how that ends up going. The Facebook integration seemed pretty slick: you could invite players to quest with you but I didn’t end up trying that out. Of course, it prompts you to share every single success with your Facebook friends but a simple checkbox allows you to opt out of that annoyance if you’re not a fan of doing that.
I have to recommend KingsRoad as a nice diversion that’s surprisingly robust and AAA-quality for a browser game that runs on Facebook. Rumble have put a lot of love into this game, and it shows. It’s not doing anything spectacularly unique, but it was a fun way to spend time tonight and I could see this becoming pretty successful.
Inside Social Games reviewed it and said:
KingsRoad is that rare thing: a browser-based game aimed at “core” players that actually has an understanding of its audience. Core gamers who are typically skeptical of free-to-play and social games want experiences that are comparable in quality to standalone, “pay once, play forever” games on PC and console — and more often than not, they simply don’t get it, instead being presented with either watered-down experiences or titles that are unpolished and sloppy. Many self-professed “hardcore” Facebook and mobile games are simply dull, boring experiences that mistake tedium for complexity, but KingsRoad neatly sidesteps that issue by following the established format of other successful games while putting its own distinctive spin on things. It looks good, sounds good, plays well, features some good writing with a lot of personality, and most importantly doesn’t insult the player by being too aggressive with either its monetization or social features.
Give it a try on Facebook and let me know what you think!