If you’ve ever wondered how you would fare in a high fantasy/medieval type setting against knights equal to yourself, then let me suggest Kingdoms Rise to you. This game by Flyleap Studios is currently available on Steam in an early alpha format. So while you can buy it and get in instantly via early access, the game is not yet finished.
Before you dive into the game, take a moment to customize your character. The customization is deep with a surplus of options from armor, to scarves, to color, to cod-pieces – you name it. There are two features in this system I particularly like. The first is that armor doesn’t have to be symmetrical. Take shoulders for example, I like the look of one giant shoulder piece; after all, you need to protect your neck from decapitations and what not. The other feature I specifically enjoyed was the different voice sets. I honestly had trouble figuring out which voice I liked the most. Some are hilarious and nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Now that you have your character, it’s time to pick a map and game mode. You have your standard free for all, team deathmatches, capture points, etc. Games can actually be fairly difficult to get into. From my experience, the servers that have players in them are usually full. Hit refresh a few times, add another region to your queue, and get to it.
At the start of a match you’ll pick your load out. This involves picking a sword, side arms, and two spells. The sword and spells are really where your options shine. Do you pick a more defensive sword? A stealthy sword? A defensive sword? Do you take the stealth spell to go with your sword? Do you want to freeze your opponents? How about the ability to heal? These decisions fill in your play style and allow you to play exactly how you want too.
The environments are absolutely beautiful. The textures are pleasing to the eyes and the lighting effects were clearly stressed upon by the developers. At times you'll feel like you’re playing in a J.J. Abrams movie. The set pieces add so much to the ambiance and engagement of gameplay. From climbing up moss covered flying buttresses, to firing a bow in the forest, to sword fighting in ruins – I always felt involved in the regions I was battling in.
Combat, unfortunately, still feels clunky. Hey, it's alpha after all. The system is pretty advanced without any explanation on how it works. There is 360-degree sword fighting, but at first it only feel like you have do a horizontal or vertical slash. After your first match you’ll learn that you can only run if your sword is away. This makes for awkward combat experiences in the middle of duels.
Admittedly, I was absolutely terrible at the game initially. I felt like I was hacking away with no end at my opponents but they could one shot me. A layered tutorial featuring basic skills followed by more advanced gameplay would certainly be welcomed. In the menu, there is a button for a tutorial but it’s just not functional yet, so I'm assuming the developers will add one eventually.
Kingdom Rise definitely has some potential. The game looks beautiful and I’m digging the direction it is headed, but again, it's still very early in development. With that said, I suggest that you keep an eye on it and watch how it develops. If you’re interested in early access, simply log onto steam, and buy it to play it for yourself.
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ