It’s been a while (probably close to four years) since I’ve touched Minecraft, but to say that Portal Knights doesn’t share any similarities to that insanely-popular construction-adventure game would be lying. However, that doesn’t mean that this new offering from 505 Games (now available on Steam Early Access) should have to live under the shadow of that voxel experience.
Portal Knights takes the idea of adventuring and being able to freely craft and build what you want and puts them together in a world with an actual story. While Minecraft had a charm in the fact that the world’s “story” was largely up to you to create and imagine as you played, this game does give the player a story about a world broken up into floating islands long ago, splitting civilization apart and allowing a connection only through special portals. This sets the stage for our adventure, as we take the role of an unnamed “Portal Knight,” who will set off on an adventure to far away lands in an effort to defeat the dangerous creatures of the world and link all the portals together at last.
Much like Minecraft, Terraria, and other games of that nature, the world is procedurally-generated each time you seed a new “wold” to play in. Your character data, however, remains a part of your character, as does all the equipment they have on them. This means that even if you delete your world and its progress (basically, story progression, to keep it easy to understand), your character retains its experience level and keeps all the stuff it has on it, which is also useful when you consider the fact that the game will let you visit other players’ worlds or play on multiplayer maps.
When you begin the game for the first time, you’ll get a menu (seen in the video) that will allow you to create a customized character, sort of like you’d see in an MMORPG or a game like Skyrim. You’ll get to customize your look up to a certain point and can pick one of three currently-available character classes. Once done, you’ll get the option of joining an already-existing world or seeding a new one to begin story mode with. Then, from there, you’ll start your adventure, exploring deep caves, crafting new items, and ultimately seeking out portal stones to fix the broken portals so you can move on to future areas, all while leveling and getting better skills and equipment.
Ultimately, even in its current early-access state, this game does have a lot to offer. I like the fact that there is an “end game” in mind for the campaign, and that the world as a result feels more alive and vibrant, but I also appreciate the fact that you can go off on random adventures with friends or spend time building up massive fortresses and the like if you really want to.
Portal Knights is available on the PC on Steam for $14.99, and at this price I have no problem recommending that you pick it up if you enjoy these kinds of games!