Game: Portal Knights
Time: 9.3 hours
Portal Knights is a game I’ve been keeping my eye on since early access. I thought about getting it for the Switch when it released, but seeing it priced at $30 on Nintendo… and $11 on Steam with the Fall Sale… it was a no-brainer to get it on Steam. Plus, I was able to nudge Syn into playing with me, which has made it a lot more fun.
What Is It?
Portal Knighs describes itself as:
Leave the familiar world behind and step into the fantastic unknown with Portal Knights, a cooperative 3D sandbox action-RPG! Level up your character and craft powerful gear to defeat your enemies in real-time tactical combat. Explore dozens of randomly-generated islands and restore peace to a world torn apart by The Fracture.
This honestly doesn’t tell you that much.
The best way I can describe it is… it’s a more on-rails, user-friendly Minecraft-type sandbox game. It’s got some of the mining, crafting and building elements that Minecraft has. But the world and creatures have a more cartoony (and slightly less blocky) aesthetic to it. There are really some very lovely locations to visit.
There’s also strong RPG elements – levels, spells, gear, loot, and skill trees. That sort of thing. The game only offers three classes, however, and customization isn’t that deep. But, you can choose a different skill tree build at any time, and swap between the weapons your class can use at will, which I like.
The world is made up of randomly generated islands. You reach these by finding and building out portals between them. Once you’ve visited an island, you can fast-travel to it using the world map at any time.
This is super useful for gathering particular resources, since these appear to be located based on the islands themselves. The map info actually tells you what you can find on each island. So, if you’re looking for copper ore, for example, just check the island info until you find one with what you need.
I also like that you can portal back to the starting point of any island at any time. So you never need to worry about digging yourself into a place you can’t get out of.
The only problem that I have with the island setup is that they’re just not very deep. So, you’ll be digging along, and suddenly you uncover open sky under you!! Please don’t dig straight down, ever…
You can earn plenty of fluff in this game, too. Dungeons sometimes have cosmetic pets, and there’s a slot for cosmetic outfits — some of which you find recipes to craft yourself. In the picture below, that tunic is cosmetic gear I picked up for Tai.
Co-Op and Multiple Universes
The best part of Portal Knights is the four-player co-op and the way you roll up new universes. It is very, very flexible.
For example… You can create a character and a solo universe to play on your own. But then, when your friends are online, you can hop into their world with the same character. Or they can hop into yours.
Everything you’ve earned, and all the inventory currently on your character comes with you, no matter which world you visit. Anything you leave in chests in those worlds stay there, too.
So, Syn was hosting our main world, where we have been building up a little farmhouse in the starter hub. But then I rolled up a personal world, so I could drop down some chests and deposit pets and things that I want to keep, but don’t want to leave on her hosted world.
If you have more than one character, they can all use that same world for adventuring and storage as well! I was really impressed at how this was implemented!
There isn’t much of a story to this game, though I didn’t really expect one given the nature of Minecraft type sandboxes. There’s some fragmented quests that talk about the Fracture that created the islands you’re visiting. There’s also bosses that you fight, though we haven’t reached any of those yet.
But the pull of finding a portal and exploring a new world on each island is enough to give direction to players who have trouble with a fully open-world sandbox environment. I noticed that even locations you visited before sometimes have randomly generating special events popping up, as well. So, it’s good to keep your eye on the map as you explore to see what’s going on in the world.
Do I recommend this game?
For folks who want a cute sandbox explorer/builder that offers some direction, this might be for them. However, if you’re used to the complexity and depth of something like Minecraft, this game may be too shallow. It just all depends on what you enjoy.
But if you can pick it up on a Steam sale, it’s been worth the $11 for me. So…