Certainly, Rival Knights [Free] has a formula that invites skepticism. It's free-to-play from Gameloft, a company not exactly known for making "free" games. And it's a jousting game that uses simplistic mechanics to play the game with. But it's about the sum of its parts and not just the individual elements: everything comes together fabulously in Rival Knights.

The action is extremely simple, taking place in three phases: tapping to get a head start right as the timer goes from one to zero. Then, trying to stop the speed bar when it hits green or yellow to go faster, as speed is one of the three determinants for who will win. Finally, there's dragging the lance around to deal more damage by hitting the target. These are all basic parts individually, but in the moment? They make for an intense experience, because one little thing going wrong could mean the difference between success and failure in a close battle.

Battles really come down to statistics: players will know whether a matchup will be a laugher or a close one beforehand as indicated by the base stats of each player. Speed and power are determined by the game: armor is basically the "I've bought better items than you" stat of the game. And sure, speed and power are determined by items too, but player performance plays a big role there too. The game does do a good job at making sure players know how close they are to opponents through a five-star system: one star is probably a blowout. Five stars? Expect to lose.


The singleplayer progression is extensive but perhaps the uninteresting part of the game: there's hundreds of battles to go through, with forking paths and levels that grant additional rewards, all managed by an energy system of seals - the wax kind, not the aquatic mammal kind. The singleplayer mode will start off as the way of getting into the game, as the multiplayer modes are in the "events" section, which is a bit of a misnomer. And likely, the first time they're explored is when the singleplayer energy is exhausted.

The events serve as the real meat of the game: they're time-limited events where players take on computer-controlled versions of other players, getting ranking points for beating them. An event leaderboard consists of about a hundred or so players, making it actually possible to get to the tops of them, which is good because there's lucrative coins and gems rewards for succeeding, though there's participation bonuses as well. Literally: play an event a bunch of times and get coins and gems. Of course, there's a second energy system that governs this mode, so it can't be played on an unlimited basis, but the seals refill quickly (about 5 minutes per seal, with an item that can boost their refill rate). And then the singleplayer mode becomes a way to pass time waiting for the multiplayer seals to replenish.


But really, this is a game that uses energy properly. If it were possible to play the game without limits, it would get boring quickly because the core game is simple and repetitive. The systems make it worth coming back to again and again over time, instead. And that the jousting remains so satisfying helps too: the game makes more decisive victories feel properly impactful. The game's quite the looker, too. It's just built to be satisfying.

Can the game be enjoyed for free? Certainly. The events mode does a great job at putting players with other opponents. Progression certainly is slower without buying gems and/or coins, but there's certainly plenty of fun to be had without paying, though I happily put in $4.99 for gems to buy new items and get some energy refills.

While it is easy to be skeptical of free-to-play games like this, especially from a big publisher, Rival Knights winds up being quite the fun game.

TouchArcade Rating

  • GiHubb

    I'd like some of the gas you're inhaling!

    • TerriBackettnyt

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      • Zeldaniac

        Cool story bro

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  • worldcitizen1919

    Me too! Seems Gameloft and King can do no wrong lately. Pity small devs don't get as many accolades. Democracy 3 seems to have been completely ignored yet is a superb game.

    • Cookies

      I think they'd make the argument (and have before) that big titles bring them more views which is good for all of us. What that says about integrity on the other hand is still an open question...

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Our editorial process basically amounts to, "Hey this game is really cool, let's post about it." We just got back from two back to back conventions. We can't cover everything when we're running around like mad men at E3. Put the pitchforks away.

      • Cookies

        That's fair enough. I just think it's sad that indie developers seem to be getting ignored a little bit lately, although all the reasons you guys have given so far have made sense.

      • HelperMonkey

        Indie game VVVVVV received lots of coverage, including game of the week.
        Yes, much of the E3 news was about high-profile games, but those are the games on wish lists, and coverage was expected.
        But during this week, 4 of 5 actual reviews were for indies.
        I think TA actually does a good job of highlighting smaller games that might be overlooked. Of course they have to address the major releases. People want to know. However, I've often been introduced to great little games here that other sites ignored.
        With a mountain of games released each week, some will be missed and some will be shrugged off. But I think TA does a pretty good job of sorting through the clutter and honestly addressing games they think are worth attention.

        PS - Thanks for free gift card for writing all of this, Eli.
        PPS - (That was a joke.)

  • dmn001

    Free-to-play games are like bait - they have luring graphics and simple yet addictive gameplay. If this isn't a paid review sponsored by gameloft and you actually wasted $4.99 into a free to play jousting game, then my friend, they've caught you hook line and sinker.

  • workingman

    They forgot to mention that the rewards for placing at the top of the leaderboards in the events don't get delivered, I placed 3rd and was suppose to receive a special lance and coins and still haven't received them many days later

    • Cilo

      Same. Placed third for 30 diamonds, no reward even after following their instructions of entering the new championship.

    • chief78

      Yeah, I've had the same issue. 4 tournies I've missed top prize (including one in an echelon tourney), and have sent customer care emails with no response....

  • KeKhan

    I agree this game is polished and really fun. Surprised this came from gameloft, but it's quality. The free to play is incorporated nicely. A gem.

  • thiagovscoelho

    Now compare it to Joust Legend.

  • C. Stubb

    "Repetitive" is definitely the right word to use here, but in my opinion gameplay that becomes stale within ten minutes (and that's exactly how long this game stayed on my device) makes for an unsatisfying experience. Glad the reviewer had a fun time with this, but I still can't wrap my mind around how anyone would want to spend any significant amount of time with this.

  • Rickard Olsson

    "But really, this is a game that uses energy properly."

    - No! Just... no!

  • Irvin

    Rule of thumb: always, ALWAYS!!! avoid free to play games. The term "free to play" is very very different from "free". 99% of the time it's worst than overpriced games.

  • mutts

    Times they are changing, reviewers getting used to free to play and seeing this as a good thing.....

  • MasonHurst

    "The game uses energy properly" ... "That's why I spent five dollars on it"...

    Please... looks like the reviewer turned out to be the perfect GL customer.

  • ImLegend

    One word "repeated", from the first match to boss fights and challenge friends, don't expected any different, they are all the same as you did the first match... It only make you happy for first half hour, that's it!

  • Cheezburgler

    This game has a sweet mechanic, but I am way too fed up with timers. I can already tell there's no point in me investing any time in this game because it's eventually going to take so long for the blacksmith to upgrade me, or to grind enough gold for new stuff it will be insufferable without spending money. I would spend money on a game I like but I know as soon as I'm out of currency I'm gonna be boned again.

    Coin doublers and "energy free" upgrades being made available would improve this.

    I just want more XCOMs and Oceanhorns. Is that so hard?

  • surirav

    And again gameloft only care about money where are the old times like asphalt 6.
    No limits pay for the game and no in-app or stuck in the game.

  • EZ Ice

    Hmm, am I missing something? Just couldn't get into it and definitely don't want to pay for timers. Not into games that are 99% menus and a sprinkle of gameplay.

    Looks ok, but not really anything ground breaking.

  • EZ Ice

    Computer-controlled versions of players...? Just pretend you are playing multiplayer? LoL!

  • titan908

    This seems like a copy of the game knightstorm I wonder what happened to it that was a great lancing game

  • Madison Kathleen Bundren

    This game is amazing, very addicting. But when I try to open the app it will load and then all of a sudden it will kick me out of it. I don't know if it's the app or my phone but it really sucks

Rival Knights Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 4