After a short and energizing fight with the Slagwurm and his minions, you return to the castle loaded with gold and 2 stone slabs! Excited to see what new armor awaits, you scramble off to the armor smith. “Amy!” you shout as you plop the slabs on to the work bench, “What can I make with these?” But your words ring hollow in the empty workshop, and Amy is nowhere to be found. “That just bloody figures…” you mutter to yourself, “Now, I gotta save the armor smith before I get new armor.”
Quest, Kill, Stuff
Knights & Dragons follows all of the usual trappings in a mobile “RPG” game – cheesy dialogue, cartoony graphics, lightweight plot, boring combat and the constant drive to craft new armor. The focus of this cookie-cutter game is to accumulate shards and slabs of rare materials to craft better gear, and once you have better gear you can go kill bigger stuff to get more rare materials for even better gear. Of course, this is “mobile”, so crafting items and building new structures for your castles starts to take time… lots of time… which can be remedied by buying gems!
After tweaking your character to most closely resemble your greatest fantasy idol (hair style, skin color, eye color, and name), you’re thrust into some dialogue worthy of a junior-high student.
Amy: “OMG! Like, where’d my supercool wand go?”
Duke: “Woah, chill out Amy. I can make you a new one.”
Amy: “No way, Duke! That wand was to uber-tops. I wannit back!! Waaaah.”
Duke: “Hey, dude… Yea you with the tablet. You’re buff, you go get it.”
With a lead-in like that, how could any proper knight refuse such a noble quest? Lucky for you, every quest comes with a big arrow you can tap on which whisks you away to your destination. Thank the Gods, otherwise you’d have to spend some of that hard-earned gold on a knightly greave-shine.
Quests consist of you and a number of cartoony knights squaring-off against several rounds of enemies. In classic, turn-based style, a rat hops over and bonks you up-side the head. Then, you scoot over to the other side of the screen and whap the rat upside his head. After you’ve been bonked enough times, you get to trigger a “special move” – a glowy, bigass whap! More rats die, some skeletons die, you fight a big brown worm, collect your loot and go home. Do this enough times, and you’ll amass enough goodies to craft armor – the real (and possibly only) point to this game.
Le Amour de Armor
Deep within your castle walls lie a number of roped-off empty spaces that you can build stuff on for gold. Let’s just forget about those for now – I mean, how important are fountains anyway? What’s really important is crafting armor! And you can accomplish this goal with a) an armor crafter, and b) a fusion MASTER!! An armor crafter will convert a number of looted trinkets, plus a smattering of gold, into a new set of armor. Basic armor is easy and cheap and takes no time at all, while rare armor is… well, the opposite. Armor determines your knights’ power and effectiveness in battle. Once you’ve accumulated a few sets of armor, you can hit-up the fusion MASTER! This guy can either level your existing armor by scrapping other sets (combine), or create new-fangled “hybrid” armor by fusing two different sets together. This costs lots of gold. Armor is essentially the core of Knights & Dragons.
In addition to the armor sets themselves, you’ll be dealing with an elemental “wheel”. The trinkets you pick up from dead monsters are associated with an element, and the armor you create with them is *drumroll* based on that element! Every element has another which is strong against it and another which it is strong against. When you fuse armor of different elements… well, it blows your mind (hint: it’s both). As you’re embarking upon your next quest, you can see what elements you’ll be encountering and be able to tweak your knight-ordering and load-out accordingly.
More Knights, More Armor!
Over time, you’ll gather a small band of knights to aid you in your travels. Some knights are picky and will only wear certain element-oriented armor, but that’s okay… because as long as your entire crew survives an encounter – even only the very last night – it’s a success! Since you have more knights to deal with, you’ll also need to be making, combining, and fusing more armor. While it seems that the reviewers in the Play store find this task of four-fold armor crafting exciting, I’m afraid I found it tedious.
Should you get bored of questing and crafting, or your knights are too wounded to go on, you can take your whole rag-tag lot down to the arena to fight other (asynchronous) players. The arena gives you a chance to show-off your new gear and potentially net a good deal of xp and gold. If you win a match, you can opt to “double-down” on the next fight with the risk of forfeiting your profits should you lose. In fact, some quests require you to beat a certain number of opponents and even hit various kill-streak targets. The arena is an entertaining distraction, but you use “energy” for every fight and – of course – run out quickly.
Friends Don’t Let Friends Grind
Finally, like most mobile games in this genre, you’re highly encouraged to sucker your friends into playing in order to complete certain quests. They won’t go away otherwise. These quests have nothing to do with trying to get your friends – who just might be less savvy than yourself – to buy in-game content. Come now. Invite enough friends, and good things happen to you. Refuse, and your quest list is slowly overloaded with tasks you can never achieve.
While Knights & Dragons is free, it’s an entirely predictable title similar to oodles of others in its genre. Featuring less-than shallow dialogue, un-engaging plot, and simplistic combat, this game will likely appeal to anyone that loves the good ‘ol grind. The theme of “accumulating loot to create new items to get better loot to make better items” has been a staple of games since the dawn of time, but games that rely on this theme have also tended to innovate by adding shiny graphics or deeper combat (see Diablo). Unfortunately, Knights & Dragons fails to deliver anything but a very basic, elementary game.