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Knight Storm

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Knight Storm | Developer: MunkyFun | Publisher: 505 Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Simulation, Time management | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.2.0
Knight Storm iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the link to jump straight to day three or day seven.

MunkyFun and 505 Games are the two companies behind Knight Storm, and I've got a soft spot for both of them.

MunkyFun made My Horse, and I loved that game, while 505 Games is the kind of publishing company that likes to take the occasional risk on unique IP like Michigan: Report from Hell - probably the best cameraman-based video game. Probably.

So I was in rather high spirits when Knight Storm was chucked in my direction for review. Is it a freemium builder? Is it a grind-heavy RPG? Has it got anything to do with lovely horses? I'm going to find out over the next week.

First impressions

Imagine you're at the beach and you're sitting on the sand with the water covering your legs. The tide's coming in rather quickly, and soon the water's beginning to hit your chest.

It's this constant thud thud thud of the water against your solar plexus that's the best way to describe Knight Storm's method for handling new gameplay ideas. It's a constant barrage early on, running you through every system it has steadily, but regularly, and without waiting to ask whether you're ready for more.

The first thing you're told about is the story: you're a nobleman who has inherited a kingdom from your father, who apparently did something silly during his reign. What that silly thing is I've no idea, but a pompous looking-knight on horseback told me that it definitely happened so I'm taking it as fact.

Next you're told that Sigils will give you a bonus during the combat that you're about to take part in, and then you're given a demonstration of the jousting controls, which mainly entails lining up a reticule on a moving target by swiping it into place.

Then it's off to the castle - which acts as your centre of operations - to get yourself an upgrade to that Sigil. Apparently ten fragments will make one for you, but you're not really told with much clarity how you go about obtaining them.

No time to stop and think about that, though, as it's off to the Smithy to look at your resources, and the explanation that more Followers will generate more resources ("Followers"? What is this, Feudal Twitter?)

Now we're headed to the Armory to look at gear for your knight and, oh, no, now we're building a stable so we can feed potions to our horse. Come on, slowcoach - we're in the Wilderness now enjoying a stripped-down choice-based text adventure.

IAPs explained
The IAPs can (unsurprisingly) get quite complicated, so hold onto your butts.

Gems are the premium currency, and are gained slowly throughout the campaign. You can also purchase 40 Gems for £1.49 / $1.99, should you so desire.

Gems are used to speed up wait times, to increase your Follower population, and to buy Fragments with which to make Sigils.

But they're quite dear: 45 Gems will bag you 100 Sigil Fragments (which in turn make ten Sigils), and Followers cost ten Gems each. You can also purchase the soft currency of Coins - 20,000 also costs £1.49 / $1.99.
Except we're not, because here's the bit that plays like Minesweeper, and here's where you fight a goblin, and now we're securing more lands, and now I've hit the 'quit' button because it's all getting to be a bit too much.

Needless to say, it's a lot to take in, but it will at least be interesting to see if these all blend together well over the next six days of play.

Day 3: Lording it up

With so much to remember from the day before, it's really easy to forget what you're meant to be doing next.

There's still barely any narrative pretext, so it's not like you're lost in the midst of a great sprawling epic. But keeping on top of collecting multiple resources from various buildings, setting out on missions, and remembering which types of Sigils are more effective against others is a lot to ask of a player.

Still the reward for your perseverance does comes in the form of some rather spiffy visuals. The game is detailed and suitably muddy, and though your knight doesn't look particularly unique the surrounding areas are sharp and full of life.

The hand-to-hand fighting looks robotic, but the jousting is brutal. Spectacular collisions with crunching impacts reinforce how hardcore this combat sport really was.

And, yes, the horses move beautifully, as you'd expect.

I'm still learning more, of course, including how to maximise my XP gain from the Training Field and figuring out which buildings I should pour resources into for long-term returns. I'm really impressed with how much stuff is in here, but I must admit that I'm not as hooked as I thought I might be, as the activities are still quite one dimensional.

Knight Storm has breadth, but it doesn't appear to have a lot of depth.

Day 7: Storming the barricades

Stop it, Knight Storm! I've got enough to do without you adding a new unexplained feature whereby you can target different areas of an opponent in the jousting.

The quest is progressing nicely, though I'm running into areas of the game that are extremely tough due to overpowered jousting opponents. This is rectified either by making IAPs (obviously) or by going back to quests you've already finished and repeating them for more resources. You can also pick up these resources at various locations in the castle.

In other words, grinding. You need experience to gain levels and grow stronger. You need better equipment to fight harder.

This comes into stark contrast when you head into the multiplayer. You can try your luck against higher-level opponents, but it's extremely unlikely that you'll ever win, and you'll rarely fail against weaker players. The game does reward you for toppling giants, though, just as it gives you relatively little for besting a wimp.

On a side note, this is also the arena in which I saw an opponent I defeated erupt into flames after I'd knocked him off his horse. The game has an odd sense of humour that marries the serious with tongue-in-cheek dialogue and, well, knights catching fire as they rag doll off their steeds.

The biggest hurdle you'll have to overcome in Knight Storm is the profusion of elements it throws at you without giving you a chance to get to grips with them. However, if you have the patience to sit down and learn the systems, it can be a rewarding and beautiful-looking experience.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Knight Storm
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 11 April 2013
There's so much to absorb here, but all of it's made to a decent standard, with the element-based jousting a particular highlight
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