Portal Knights First Impressions – A Borderless RPG, Oscillating Between Tactical Action And Cathartic Exploration

Portal Knights is a procedurally generated RPG wonderland filled countless items to collect, bosses to fight, places to explore and equipment to craft. While at face-value it may look a smoothed out Minecraft clone – don’t let this sway you. The incredibly fleshed out environments, characters, quests and enemies along with the versatility of the sandbox style worlds will keep you continuously entertained and excited each time you open up your next portal – taking you to an enigmatic new world.

Thrust into a safe-ish starting zone, I began my Portal Knights experience. Here I learnt about the basic mechanics of the game: raid dungeons, mine, craft, level up and repeat. Once the tutorial is complete you build your first portal and venture into the unknown.

I landed in my first new area with one basic prerogative – to you know, build a house as one does in Minecraft. This was the entirely wrong approach –  while yes, I could make this desert wasteland my home, the game’s intention in the starting phase isn’t that. It’s to jump right into exploration and discovery – besides, I shortly realised that I already had a safe haven – the lush starting point of the tutorial, which I found pretty cool because wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can always teleport back to the world where your home base exist to drop off resources or items – and if you don’t like it, you can always set your shop up at a new world.

Running at a continuously high framerate, the gameplay was easy to pick up and fluid. You can run and dodge enemies maintain mana and health while casting fireballs all through the controls on your d-pad – fully mappable of course. When searching for precious minerals or building something, you can switch to first person mode to have a better view of what you are doing.

As I progressed through the multitude of different worlds and dungeons, killing creeps and collecting mana potions – the game gets a little bit more challenging and at times, even frustrating. I found myself trying to take on dangerous new minions with my starting items was forgetting one of the crucial components to the Portal Knights – your character.

I took a break from the combat, revisiting the Minecraft playstyle I forgot about and spent about 20 minutes or so, harvesting, collecting, planting and mining – paying close attention to the intricate crafting system which is different per character.

After equipping my hero with a new set of robes and an epic nature-damage staff, I returned where I left off, gazing upon the land which had terrorised my terribly equipped wizard. I had returned and brought with me an arsenal of firepower – “Who was this newly reinvigorated wizard? Was he a force for good? Or evil?”, I thought to myself as I threw another bomb at the roof of an NPC’s house because I could.

Essentially, this is what the game is all about. It’s still a sandbox like Minecraft which allows you to play however you like – but it’s also an RPG and should be treated like so. Once you do that and engross yourself in this awesome and ever changing world filled  – the game really really begins to shine. Want to be a respectful warrior and wander world wiping out orcs and ogres to liberate lands? Or will you be an evil wizard who rocks up to people’s houses, smashes vases and runs off to craft some more bombs.

While I did enjoy the game solo – it’s clear to see that this game is meant to be played with friends – fighting bosses together, building castles or just generally messing around -it’s an essential if you are looking for split-screen titles.

Portal Knights is a seemingly borderless RPG which gently nestles between the tactical action of titles games like Dungeon Defenders and cathartic exploration of environmentally rich worlds like Minecraft or Terraria. It’s continuous change and incredibly smoothed out edges will keep players involved and excited every time they fire up a new portal and venture out.