I’m a big fan of Minecraft, but I have never tried any of the similar looking games that have come out since it hit big. I never saw the point in playing the ones that looked like they were going for exactly what Minecraft had already done. Portal Knights certainly has the appearance of a Minecraft clone, but twists that foundation into a simultaneously familiar and unique experience.
Just like Minecraft, Portal knights is an RPG where all of the terrain is procedural, destructible and in the cubic variety. Resources and materials can be crafted into weapons, armor, potions, furniture, or decorative blocks. Instead of one continuous world though, there are smaller floating islands (or levels) that are connected to each other through portals. Some portals aren’t so hard to find, while others are hidden in maze-like dungeons.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, Switch
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
The goal is to keep unlocking more islands, which will have tougher enemies and more valuable resources. Each island lists the type of resources it has on it, which is cool, but if an island has a resource, it will be everywhere and extremely easy to find. The player can tame any island that they chose and build a nice house, a colossal castle or anything really.
Islands will have procedurally generated houses, mines, dungeons, monuments, and other structures to explore. A part of a dungeon might look familiar, but the overall variety and natural looking design of these procedurally generated environments was impressive – so much so that I suspected that the game’s environments were not randomly generated, but they are. Another cool thing about these environments is that you can grab whatever you like and take it back to your place. See a gargoyle in a dungeon or a tombstone at a graveyard, you can take those things and design your settlement around them.
Environments are about as varied as can be, and the look of everything is detailed, vibrant, and just pleasant to look at. There are some mild problems though. The load times, which only happen when going through a portal, are just long enough to be annoying and their use is frequent. The crafting menu takes a long time to get used to and is excessively dependent on memorization. There was also a repeatable bug that made me unable to move, but opening my inventory would always fix it. The combat – regardless of class (Ranged and Melee) – is fluid but basic, with only a combat roll to mix things up.
The game does feel grindy at times but I did find some enjoyment in that. There was always a small goal in sight – to get more portal pieces by killing enemies, to snag more materials for a better pickaxe, or cutting down cactus after cactus to get water for potions. If I played either local or online co-op, which the game supports, I’m sure I would have had an even better time than I did.
Portal Knights certainly takes inspiration from Minecraft, but does enough different to stand on its own. It’s procedurally generated environments and visuals impress the most, which make for a nice laid-back adventure.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.