by Davneet Minhas
reviewed on PC
Combat in Armored Princess is more reminiscent of a board game than a role-playing game. The battlefield is composed of a hexagonal grid. Each grid space can hold one unit type at a time, and Amelie’s units typically start on the opposite end of the grid from enemies.
Battles are divided into Turns. Each Turn is over once every unit on the battlefield has performed the available action(s). A unit’s available actions for the Turn are typically exhausted once it has attacked. But before attacking, a unit can sometimes move throughout the battlefield or perform a special ability. For example, in one Turn, a bear can use its special ability to double its movement speed, move across four hexagons instead of two, and then attack an enemy if it is in an adjacent hexagon. On the contrary, Archers may not want to move at all considering their ranged attack.
Battlefields come in many different shapes and sizes, and include obstacles. The standard rectangular grid, with opposing forces starting on opposite sides, is fairly prevalent throughout Teana. However, the player can also encounter circular grids with enemies surrounding the player’s units, or irregularly-shaped grids that are specific to certain situations, such as laying siege to a castle.
With an enormous number of units and battlefield possibilities, the combat in King’s Bounty: Armored Princess is very satisfying due to its thought-provoking nature – a very good thing considering combat constitutes 99% of the game. This also means that no battle is quick and simple. Even “very weak” opponents (the game conveniently informs the player of an enemy army’s strength before combat is entered – a very welcome touch for avoiding “invincible” opponents) can take a good amount of time and thought to defeat, especially when trying to avoid any casualties.
Thankfully, Amelie doesn’t have to rely solely on her army. She also has a pet dragon at her disposal – as lethal as it is cute. Like any army unit, Amelie’s dragon can perform one action per Turn. The dragon can call upon a ball of lightning to follow a single enemy unit, or dive bomb from the sky and severely damage every enemy unit. But these abilities aren’t immediately or freely available. The dragon levels up along with Amelie through battle and gains certain abilities while strengthening others over time. Each ability also costs a certain amount of Rage, which is gained by regular army combat – attacking and being attacked by enemies.
While Amelie’s dragon is an integral part of battle, and very useful when taking on larger armies, it remains off the grid and carefree. After performing an ability on the battlefield, the dragon will fly back to its resting place and take a nap under its tree, oblivious to any tension on the field. When not in use, the dragon will also grab a piece of fruit from the tree, and munch away while watching its allies struggle. It is both a very welcome addition to the tense and strategic combat, and a nice artistic touch. It is always amusing to watch the dragon as it observes battle nonchalantly.
King’s Bounty: Armored Princess has a forgettable story and dated graphics that seem borrowed from much older medieval fantasy titles. However, its gameplay is superb. The turn-based combat is the main component of this game and fortunately its strongest draw. While easy to learn, it is deeply strategic and very satisfying, especially when defeating an army that is much stronger than your own.
The overall formula of island hopping also proves to be very addictive. Clearing an island of all of its monsters and loot provides a great sense of pride in your army. Traveling to the next island, and observing the new landscape and atmosphere, results in a sense of wonder. And finally, those feelings of pride and wonder are dashed when you realize the armies on the new island completely outclass your own. Of course, that’s what makes the game so much fun.
The turn-based combat is superb.
The story is fairly forgettable.