Knights in Shining Armor: our king's tale episode one
First posted on 09 October 2010. Last updated on 09 October 2010.
Knights in Shining Armor: our king's tale episode one is a 2.5D point-and-click adventure game from newcomer and indie developer Fluff Entertainment, built using the popular freeware development tool Wintermute Engine. In this game, the player assumes the character of Prince Rupert, who finds himself in an unfamiliar land, seeking a bride so he can assume the throne. Naturally, he has his sights set on his enemy's daughter and is determined to secure her as his wife.
To call this installment a chapter or an episode is a fallacy. It is more aptly a prologue. The plot involves Rupert getting his bearings in his new surroundings and opening a mysterious box at the local pub before leaving in order to start his adventure searching for his future bride.
There are, unfortunately, a few glaring shortcomings with this game. While indie developers can be granted some leeway for not having the production budget of major studios, there are a number of design issues that the developer needs to fine-tune in order to create a better experience in later episodes that are presumed to follow. The character models are poorly animated—their faces expressionless and unmoving, no matter the situation. The game is fairly dialog heavy; yet, there is little to no animation to distinguish which character is speaking, and what animation is present is often sluggish. At a minimum, the character models would benefit from a simple animation of their mouths opening and closing when speaking.
Additionally, the game suffers from audio balance issues. Thankfully, Rupert's voice sounds crisp and clear. However, there is a female character who sounds as if her lines are recorded by a voice actor over an answering machine. When combined with a questionable volume level on the ambient sounds (but not, curiously, the soundtrack), the audio can sometimes take the player out of the environment that the game is trying to establish.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of this game is that it is essentially a barebones adventure. Quite simply, if Rupert can interact with an object on screen, it serves an immediate and direct purpose in advancing the story. Such mechanic quickly leads the game to be easier than the developer probably has intended. In fact, there seems to be only a single real puzzle in the entire game—a sliding puzzle near the end of the episode. Perhaps there will be more puzzles in future episodes, but the presence of only a single puzzle—a staple of adventure games—in the first episode is worrisome. Moreover, the fact that the game environment is not particularly interactive—another staple of adventure games—is disheartening.
Despite these faults, there is promise in the series. The writing is clever at parts (mostly when dealing with Rupert), and despite the faulty character models, most of the environment models are well rendered and in high definition. The music, while somewhat forgettable, is nice to listen to and helps to establish the ambiance of the medieval world. The addition of ambient sounds (such as chirping birds) when music is absent is also a nice touch. It is evident that some care is taken by the developer with this game. In the end, even though this episode has a few key faults and is almost unforgivably short, there is enough of a setup to look forward to future episodes for the series.