Steam's Popular Portal Knights Channels Minecraft And Zelda, Comes Up Short

Steam's Popular Portal Knights Channels Minecraft And Zelda, Comes Up Short

If you want, you can tunnel all the way to the center of Portal Knights' floating island world. There's just one problem: it's hollow.

Portal Knights hit Steam yesterday, and it's been in the top ten best sellers ever since. If you find yourself thinking, "Gee, that sure reminds me of Minecraft, Terraria, Cubeworld, Trove, Starbound, and Mark Wahlberg's upcoming foray into the genre, Blocky Block And The Voxel Bunch," you're not far off the mark.

Portal Knights is a game where you explore, collect blocks and seeds of various sorts, craft weapons and armour, and build fortresses (or, if you're me, a single, finger-like pillar that scrapes the sky and pops a pimple on the face of God Himself). You can bring three friends along for the ride, or you can fly solo.

Instead of adventuring through one infinite procedurally generated world, you traverse an endless procession of smaller ones, all of which are connected by portals that you have to activate with special blocks. So there's your basic formula: go to a place, kill stuff, maybe find a dungeon or a special treasure or a boss, collect coloured blocks, put them in a portal, move on to the next place, repeat.

On the upside, the game has gobs of personality. I mean, look at this character creation screen:

Steam's Popular Portal Knights Channels Minecraft And Zelda, Comes Up Short

There aren't all that many options, but there's an excellent selection of facial hair, and you can put handlebar mustaches on ladies! It's all just so charming.

Unfortunately, in its current Early Access state, the experience runs out of Steam fast. Everything is simple and repetitive: classes, combat, progression, exploration, etc. Pieces of its design don't fit together, either. Case in point: why build an elaborate fort if you're just gonna portal to a new area in 15 minutes? The developers plan to add More Content (worlds, bosses, recipes, etc) before the full release, but I feel like it's the foundation that needs work. If nothing else, they say that deeper RPG mechanics are on the way. That's good, because what's there now is as barebones as it gets.

Here's 30 minutes of me playing the game and discussing why, despite a wonderfully whimsical presentation, I'm disappointed:

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    I tried it on the weekend. It felt shallow and got my fill before the 2 hour refund window. Might come back one day when it's deeper.

    Case in point: why build an elaborate fort if you’re just gonna portal to a new area in 15 minutes?
    This is exactly what put me off ever trying it out when I was looking at it the other day. Seems to absolutely contradict it's own design.

    It's like if Minecraft were to repeatedly render all your past work irrelevant every few hours.

    Last edited 29/02/16 8:49 pm

      You do know that you go back and forth between islands right? Each island has its own biome, enemies, and its own resources. So lets say you build a house on the first island, you can come back to that island. Lets say you need more iron for said armor but the place where you built your house doesn't have iron ore, well you can look up the resources of each island you have unlocked/visted and see which ones have iron ore in them but you also need coal to smelt them into iron bars so you need to see which islands have iron bars.

      You can jump back and forth between islands, its not like once you go through the portal everything before that gets erased. That'd just be stupid. Going to a new island doesn't make the past one irrelevant in the slightest. Each island has its own benefits.

    I've been playing it more as an RPG instead of a Minecraft clone and am loving it. Sure, the systems need more depth to them, but it's early access.. Give it some time to get fleshed out.

    Case in point: why build an elaborate fort if you’re just gonna portal to a new area in 15 minutes?

    I built one hub on the first island and am developing it as I go, using each island as a biome to farm stuff and take back to use/craft/upgrade/etc.. Again, treat it as an rpg not a minecraft clone and you'll have more fun.

    I've played about 8 hours, just beat the second boss and I haven't lost interest yet. I feel like it's earnt it's $12 from me so far, but we'll see how they go with update frequency etc..

    You can go back to any island you've previously visited, at any time, with its progress saved... so...

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