In order to describe King Arthur’s Gold, I find myself having to resort to comparison for the simple fact that it incorporates so many concepts from other genres, it’s impossible not to. Worms, Fat Princess, Team Fortress 2, Terraria… it’s no wonder the game defies conventional categorization.
It is, again, no wonder that the vast majority of games I participated in were grand exorcises in a tumultuous dumbfounding.
King Arthur’s Gold (PC)
Developer: Transhuman Design
Publisher: Transhuman Design
Words: James Bacon
Officially, King Arthur’s Gold is a “2D Action Multiplayer Wargame,” but that doesn’t do it justice. It’s a class-based, resource gathering, team-based, real-time war game, and even after this description, I feel like I’ve left something out. Let me do this by the numbers, just to make I don’t forget anything.
It’s class based. There are three classes in the game, available to you at any time (so long as you’re in the proper room to change): the Knight, the Archer, and the Builder. The Knight is the tank of the trio. He has the most health of all the classes, and he’s armor-clad, wielding a sword and shield. The shield can be used to block attacks, and as a step for other characters if you angle it above your head. It can also help you get distance when you jump, by acting as a glider. Knights can also throw bombs to clear pathways, and destroy your enemies (if they’re silly enough to get caught in the blast), as well as use a variety of attacks with their sword. The archer has the lowest health of the three, and can, TA-DA, shoot arrows. They have a grappling hook to help them with finding that perfect sniper’s nest high above the battlefield, and they have a wide variety of arrow types to use, as needed. Then there’s my personal favorite, the Builder (the class I also happen to play in Fat Princess… which I still play, because it’s incredibly fun). The Builder is the backbone of any army, capable of building drawbridges, gates, towers, ladders, and many other structures out of a wide variety of blocks for which he must gather resources. Mining stone and wood are a must, and resource gathering makes you a high priority target…
Honestly, each class has such a well defined skill set, and though there are only three, all of the bases have been covered. I half expected all of the classes to play similarly with the exception of weapons, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. You can find your class niche, and set about obtaining victory via protecting your comrades, sniping the enemy, or building up your defenses and collecting resources. Putting it all on a beautifully pixelated 2D plane is icing. The game is literally Worms meets Team Fortress 2, and I haven’t even described the modes of play, yet! The minds that came up with this game are brilliant.
As I just mentioned, the game looks beautiful with it’s layered backdrops, and pixel composition, but I’m a sucker for pixels. Especially in this day an age, when it’s an artistic choice, and not a necessity borne out of poor tech. The layered, scrolling backdrops are better than anything an SNES could ever pump out, and the detail with which all of the teensy people are composed seem to have been painstakingly placed. There’s not much else to say about it, for as much as I love the look, it’s a simple one. But it’s certainly charming (especially when the gallons of blood begin to flow), and skillfully worked.
The game modes are diverse, varied, and copious. Single player gets a basic tutorial for controls and movement (all done with the keyboard; though there is no controller support, the game is no worse for it), and then one for each of two modes: Capture the Flag, and Take the Halls. Capture the flag is exactly what you’d expect it to be – each team has a flag, and the other team is trying to grab it and run it back to their base for points. Take the Halls is a capture point mode wherein halls (as in stone halls) are scattered throughout the zone, and both teams are trying to capture them all for a victory. Both of these modes are multiplayer. Getting back to single player stuff, there’s Challenge mode, which sets several tasks before you to be accomplished within a set time limit; Save the Princess, which is a small campaign mode where you must (*AHEM!*) save the princess from an evil Necromancer and his scores of baddies; and then there’s Sandbox mode, which allows you to just do whatever the heck you want. This is the mode to go nuts in with your builder.
Multiplayer has the aforementioned Capture the Flag and Take the Halls modes, but it pours on the content by adding a Team Deathmatch mode which is, like capture the flag, exactly as you’d expect it (two teams racing for the highest kill count), and its own Challenge mode, allowing for cooperative problem solving in a set amount of time. Add to this the fact that the game supports OVER 32 players, and you can begin to estimate exactly how much bang for your buck you’ll be getting out of this one.
All I’ve done here is lay out the mechanics of the game, and that’s honestly because I’ve no idea how to relate the confusing, quick, dirty, confounding nature of the actual gameplay experience. Often I stared at the computer screen, wide eyed, doing nothing but getting spawn killed, and just taking the chaos in. Once I found my groove, it was still an all-over-the-place experience that certainly won’t be for everyone; BUT… if it’s for you, then this game is definitely for you. Grab a group of friends, plunk your Hamilton down on the Steam counter, and step up the the craziest experience you’ll have in a long time. AND it’s in 2D… brilliant!
Verdict: 8.5 (+Good) – “Madcap” doesn’t even begin to describe the tone set by this game. It’s got an extremely steep learning curve, and most modes tend to devolve into so much chaos, but once you get the hang of it, there’s a lot of fun to be had; while short games mean you won’t be lost in a sea of dead comrades and confusion for longer than necessary. If you like Fat Princess, Worms, Team Fortress, or any number of other class based games focusing on mass destruction, you can’t go wrong with KAG. The $9.99 price tag only serves to reinforce its “must buy” status. Have at thee!