I don’t know why they didn’t just call it Mordred. If you’re going for a dark Arthurian vibe, why name it after a fluffy Heath Ledger film? Joust kidding. I’m sure there’s a good reason. Maybe Heath’s handsomeness didn’t get as far as Hungary, and so we’ve got King Arthur: Knight’s Tale instead.
It’s the new game from a Hungarian studio called NeocoreGames, which you might know as the maker of the Van Helsing series of action RPGs, or Warhammer 40K Martyr, or, longer ago, the King Arthur series of games. But those Arthur games were different, quite Total Warry. This one, the new one, is more XCOM.
You play as Mordred, the famous baddie from the King Arthur tales. And true to form, it was you who killed King Arthur here. But he also killed you, so you both died and yet you both live. The Lady of the Lake kept you alive, and she wants you to end Arthur – who brought some kind of nightmare army to Avalon – for good. And you will fight his dark forces one turn-based, grid-based, tactical fight at a time.
You’re not alone. You control Camelot, excitingly, which means you can call on the fabled Knights of the Round Table to join you in battle as well. You can upgrade Camelot too, via some kind of kingdom management layer, and rule the wider land, affecting a Tyranny/Righteousness gauge with every decision you make.
Your companions will watch you. They apparently have minds of their own and will react to your decisions as well as cause disputes and conflicts by themselves. They’ll get injured and diseased, too, and they’ll possibly die – and I mean permanently – so you’ll have to juggle your starting line-up (sounds like Darkest Dungeon) and how they work together will be key (sounds like chemistry in FIFA Ultimate Team).
Knight’s Tale is going to be heavy on story and role-playing, I’m told, and it sounds like there’s a fairly full world to explore and lots of depth to plumb. And to be honest, it looks pretty good, judging by the short gameplay video I was shown while we chatted to the NeocoreGames team. A bit slow maybe, a bit sedate, but atmospheric and precisely the kind of strategical RPG I get giddy for.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale will also have a Kickstarter campaign, launching today. But don’t panic. This isn’t a case of ‘here’s an idea, pay us and we’ll deliver it three years from now’; it’s more of a ‘we’ve made the game, we just want to get the word out and finish it to a higher standard’ affair. It’s similar to what Larian did with the Divinity: Original Sin games, if you remember, and they turned out alright didn’t they?
“One thing I can say for sure is: the game will be made, absolutely,” PR manager Gergely Vas told me in a Q&A after the presentation. “We [have been] working on it for more than a year and we have gameplay ready, and we are planning to release it early next year. The game will happen whatever happens on Kickstarter.”
He added: “We want to try Kickstarter because we haven’t tried it yet and we like experimenting, and we will see how it goes. Pretty much we are launching a Kickstarter to involve our community and with the funding we’d like to add some extra features to the game.”
The base funding goal is pretty low: £115,000. There will be a beta version of the game released “sometime in November”, when the Kickstarter campaign ends.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is currently in development for PC, Steam specifically, “but next-gen consoles are also considered and will be implemented in the future, later on,” said PR manager Patrik Csörnyei. The aim, as mentioned above, is an early 2021 release.