Adventure! Excitement! City-Building! What say you, naive?
I’m not exactly certain how the Large Hadron Collider works, but I’m pretty sure you can’t use it to smash video games together at super-fast speeds. If you could, maybe you’d fire a fantasy MMORPG, a social city builder and a tactical battle game together and come up with something like Knights of the Rose. Or you might conclusively prove the existence of the Higgs boson, but the game seems like more fun and less math.
Not that there aren’t numbers involved in Knights of the Rose. Developed by Perfect World Entertainment and published by Row Sham Bow, the game has you taking on the role of a young princess determined to prove herself to her father, the King, by ruling over her own province. That requires you to wear a lot of hats, and since there’s fantasy combat involved, it would be best if they were made of metal.
The first order of business is to restore a castle and get a knack for resource management. There’s gold, of course, plus food to grow to increase the number of citizens your territory can support. Those citizens can be shaken down for some tax money – quite literally, since a gauntleted hand lifts them up and empties their pockets – and trained to become soldiers. All of these tasks have different structures devoted to them, where you can set them to run for short or long periods of time with correspondingly greater results.
Your citizen-soldiers won’t do much good without leadership, so you can recruit heroes to lead them into battle. You’ll find them at the local tavern, and a little gold is all it takes to get them into the fold. Heroes can be infantry, cavalry, spearmen, marksmen or mages, with troops under their command automatically taking on their specialties. The RPG element is strongest here since heroes can level up, learn increasingly powerful special attacks, and equip weapons and armor.
Keeping the heroes at their best is a smart idea, because you’ll need them on various fronts. Sending them out into the field allows you to advance the game’s story while earning gear and experience to level up your castle, which in turn unlocks upgrades for all other buildings. You also have the option to occupy other players’ castles or gold mines for financial gain. And if you have any troops to spare, it’s wise to use them to garrison your own castle to fend off attacks from human opponents.
Battles play out automatically, but there is strategy involved in properly setting up your units. A classic rock-paper-scissors dynamic exists between different types of troops, with positioning also playing a big role. Some of it is common sense to anyone who has played similar games, like putting archers in the back row where they can fire over infantry. For newbies, the game’s seemingly never-ending tutorial can help make it all clear.
That’s meant as a compliment, by the way, as Knights of the Rose clearly has aspirations of bridging the gap between the Facebook gaming crowd and people who normally play PC or console titles. Explaining everything there is to do is therefore a must, and the game handles that job in excellent fashion, introducing new concepts gradually. There’s always something to do every time you log in, whether its tackling the many quests, trying to progress further through the story, crafting weapons and armor, or taking the fight to other players.
At the same time, there’s a definite feeling that some of the typical social gaming conventions bog the game down a bit. Military Orders are needed for each battle, and Diamonds (the premium currency) can buy a lot of the goodies that are normally acquired only through some serious grinding. There is a way to simulate the same battle multiple times, but where’s the fun in that? The city building elements are also limited by the fact that structures can only be built in specific places.
Those conditions might turn off the core gamers, but the style and wit of Knights of the Rose should appeal to a wide cross-section of the gaming public. The script and art are both whimsical, and the world is full of small touches that fit the game’s generally lighthearted tone. Upgrade a building and you’ll see a flying ship float by to toss down the necessary supplies. What does it mean? I haven’t the slightest idea, but it’s entertaining.
In fact, the whole game is entertaining, though it remains to be seen if it will be a draw for those who may not otherwise frequent social gaming hotspots. Knights of the Rose runs the risk of being the proverbial jack of all trades, master of none – but this multiple genre mash-up is certainly not your typical Facebook fare, and that alone is worth a test drive if you dig the premise.