We got a look at Square Enix's (then upcoming) King's Knight [Free] at PAX, and our initial impressions were that it was a pretty cool game even if we didn't really understand how to initially play the demo they had on the show floor. Basically, when you're actually playing the game portion of King's Knight, it's a hybrid of a dungeon crawler and a vertical shooter- A super neat mash-up that I'm not sure I've ever seen done before. (Although, on a platform like the App Store, that's almost an impossibility.) Unfortunately, after playing quite a bit of the actual release of King's Knight, I wish I could say I was surprised that it's absolutely packed to the brim with practically every freemium shenanigan in the book: Post-install downloads, multiple gacha systems, connectivity requirements, multiple ways to level up seemingly everything, login bonuses, friend systems, daily quests, and elaborate freemium menus (each often with their own tutorial) to manage all these things. It's really sort of incredible.

Here's me going through the first 30 minutes or so:

The game kicks off with a surprisingly cool opening scene which walks you through how the various game mechanics work. You've got a virtual joystick for moving your character around, and virtual buttons to attack and jump. (There's also one-handed modes where shooting is handled automatically.) In these early levels you're blasting through all sorts of enemies, different enviroments, unleashing devastating super attacks, swapping between party members, and ultimately defeating a massive dragon.

It's amazing, and just when you hit the point of saying to yourself, "Holy cow, this game is so much better than I was expecting," someone at Square Enix does this with the lever controlling the amount of freemium shenanigans that can be packed into any one game:

For real, you defeat the dragon, and then the game immediately starts explaining all this junk about how you need to use a gacha system to roll for heroes which vary widely in quality based on rarity and a five star system. Then there's another gacha for weapons that those same characters then equip, and then those weapons need to be upgraded through some sort of grinding mechanic then reforged into other weapons to increase their star level or something else like that. (There might be a third gacha system too maybe?) I don't even know. It's like someone actively sat down and said to themselves, "What's the most jarring transition we can make for players coming off the high of spamming super moves and slaying a giant dragon?"

The sad part is, the game itself, once you're done fighting the freemium menu system, is really awesome. Like, really awesome. It's sort of incredible how well the dungeon crawl-y hack and slash gameplay combines with a vertical shooter- Almost like Square Enix accidentally discovered the next peanut butter and jelly. I love the action portions, and the idea of eventually having a ton of characters in your roster that you can swap between to build the ultimate party is fabulous. There's even some weird friend system where you can play some kind of co-op, which also seems really cool. I just can't see myself ever getting to that point as the freemium stuff is so unbelievably over the top.

Despite all of this, I'd still recommend giving the game a download. The fist five minutes or so (before the game starts drowning you in gacha) is really pretty cool. You'll likely come to the same conclusion I did of, "Wow, this is great, I hope some indie developer takes this idea, builds a game, and just charges me money for it." It's a weird thing to say, but I can't even tell you guys what a turn off this level of freemium-ness is for me. I've got high tolerances, but King's Knight has taken things to an entirely new level.

  • darkfyra

    Sadden that this game is not paid,I would pay for a good Square Enix game again,just give me one..please no more freemium,no more kiddy spinoffs,get a second try at fantasy meet modern times because it is not a bad idea just badly executed.I just want an actually amazing title that remind me why I love so much Final Fantasy.

  • nkx

    I feel the exact same as this review the first five minutes completely blown away! Deleted after 20 minutes can't get over the freemium garbage

    • darkfyra

      Me too,it's why all my games on my iPad are paid games(even if I'm tired of waiting for SE to update FF Tactics and not let a part of rpg history to disappear,seriously why was that game never released again on pc,ps4,3DS and just as a rerelease on psp and ios?I'm sad we are lacking in good srpgs now with FE going dlc obsessed and amiibos obsessed.I want Tactics back not as a child friendly franchise,freemium title but as the more mature style of the original one,not Advance,not A2,I want it like the first game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wolvenworks Wolvenworks

    we're all sheep in Sheepland

  • Chai Chien Liang

    Wait, how big is the download? Not sure if I want to download something then delete it after 5 minutes

    Truly pay to play?

    • rtificial

      700 mb once you start the game.

      • Chai Chien Liang

        Okay thanks, will see about trying it out at home, here my office connection is too slow (10mbps for 20 staff)