Show me the money
King Arthurs Gold (from here on referenced as KAG) is the latest game from Transhuman Design, the developers behind Soldat. Like their previous effort, KAG is primarily a 2D red vs blue multiplayer deathmatch game coupled with the aesthetic and design of the SNES classic King Arthurs World with the resource mining and building construction of Terraria.
The gameplay is straight forward and simple – Two teams of up to 16 players each are placed on opposite ends of a randomly generated map and given a few minutes to build structures from any stone they dig up or trees they chop down, before the opposing team advances.The teams consist of three different classes which can easily be swapped for another by visiting their hold and picking your unit of choice, allowing players to adapt to changing situations quickly.
Knights, outfitted with a sword and shield, can hack and slash through enemies quite easily. The shield does a good job of blocking arrows and can also be used to glide while jumping. Because the knight’s role is to engage the enemy in close proximity, they have the most amount of health, twice as large as the archers. They also have the ability to utilize bombs, which can be used in all sorts of scenarios – often times to humorous effect. Archers, armed with a bow and grappling hook are the weakest of the lot with a maximum of two hearts of health. What they lack in durability though, they make up in versatility. They can shoot arrows from across the screen in a Worms-like fashion, climb trees, go prone, and have a handy grappling hook for scaling structures and making quick escapes. Pick-axe wielding builders are the architects of the game and have up to three hearts of health. They are the only class that can gather resources and build structures. By linking blocks of stone and wood together they can create walls, bridges, and keeps and adorn them with ladders, traps, doors, trapdoors, and the like. They can also build ships to transport weapons and troops across shark infested waters safely, as well as build workshops that produce bombs, arrow upgrades, and heavy artillery.
There are a few single player game modes including Sandbox, which allows for unobstructed building and exploring, and a few Multiplayer modes like Capture the Flag and Deathmatch. While single player can be fun it’s more of a practice mode for the much more meaty multiplayer modes which is where you’ll be spending most of your time.
While KAG supports up to 32 players, we haven’t encountered any teams that large in any of the random servers we joined. This may be by design as lag is an issue. Sometimes enemies will disappear in front of you and reappear behind you and the more players connected, the more frequently it seems to happen. Attacking with the knight can be problematic as well as some hits don’t register or register from an unfair distance. In fact, we found melee combat in KAG to be altogether hokey and lacking in precision. While the knight has the ability to block and charge attacks, most skirmishes devolve into a frenzy of button mashing and luck. End up on the wrong side of fortune and you’ll have to restart your character from your teams’ side of the screen, which can be quite discouraging on such a large play area. As large as it is though, the play area isn’t large enough for ship building to play a major factor or enhance the gameplay in any significant way. Ships are great for transporting and conducting sieges from but we can’t help but think how much better the experience would be if ships had enough room to attack one another on open seas and send your vanquished enemies to Davy Jones’ Locker.
The control scheme is mouse and keyboard only, which works really well for crafting but not so in other areas. While the developers did a good job of clustering the controls around the WASD buttons, combat can be tricky and awkward and we think, would be much better suited to a gamepad. But, that’s the problem with mixing different game types together; control has to be sacrificed to meet a “middle ground” of utility. That’s not say it’s horrible, far from it – only that, FPS control schemes are not ideal for 2D platformers and it’s quite noticeable here.
While it’s a delight to build a fortress and defend it by exploding your enemies into hundreds of bloody pieces or by dropping boulders on their heads it’s just as satisfying to be the aggressor and set fire to their building and watch the whole thing come tumbling down upon them. This is where KAG really shines. There are a myriad of ways to inflict damage to the opposing team, including spike strip traps, volleying projectiles, and even catapulting team members over high walls, amongst many other creative and strategic options.
Other than some poor design choices and a few bugs, with good players on your team, KAG can be a challenging and rewarding experience and is a good game, but just misses being great.
KAG is available to purchase now on Steam.