|First, some of the good points. The graphics are really impressive, sort of a cross between Black & White, WarCraft III and Nox. You have water with reflections, waving trees, very detailed friends and enemies.|
Gameplay is also very much a cross between Nox and WarCraft III. There's a strategy game where you go around gathering weapons and armor, watching your health and killing the bad guys. There's also a RPG game where you ... go around gathering weapons and armor, watching your health and killing the bad guys - while gaining experience. The maps and story are pretty much the same.
The cut scenes have amazingly well done graphics which add to gameplay. The sound is quite good when it works properly, and there are little touches that show a sense of humor behind the scenes.
With all of these things going for the game, it should have been one I LOVED. This is about perfect for my interests. But despite trying several times to get into enjoying this game, each time I walked away in frustration and anger. How could the game suck so badly??
First off, whoever QAed this game did a pretty bad job. My machine here is a 3 GHz machine with a great video card, 1 gig RAM and plays hundreds of games without a glitch. When I put Once Upon a Knight on it, the game CRAWLED and mouse movement was incredibly jerky. I had to crank down all settings and put the resolution at one too low for my monitor to draw well to get it to play even reasonably. Even so, there was mouse lag and jerky video. This problem was even worse on other machines I tried it on - all between 2 GHz and 3 GHz.
Next, the game just wasn't very involving at all. There are so many games I've played - Dungeon Siege, Diablo, Baldur's Gate, etc. - where the story and gameplay drew me in and I was really interested in continuing to play. I would stay up all night to get to another level. With Once Upon a Knight, I had to force myself to keep plodding forward. It just didn't seem interesting at all.
I have been a member of the SCA for years and love medieval stories and activities. But the incessant 'I mustest telleth thee why thee musteth goeth on a questeth' was bordering on torture. 'Archaic speech' works really well in some contexts - but they did it so incredibly poorly, misusing parts of speech and using poor grammar to boot - that it was like trying to read L337 SP33CH to play a game.
The default settings for the game added to its unplayability. They start with dialogue boxes off - but the dialogue is poorly done and half the time you can't tell what the people are saying. Plus the default music volume drowns out the speech. I've already mentioned what the default graphics settings do to gameplay.
It seems like such an incredible shame to me, that a basic idea that was so great, combined with graphics that had such potential, ended up combining to create a game that was so unenjoyable. It really is a prime example how having a great foundation in a game means nothing if plot, QA and testing aren't done well. Having brilliant reflections in water are fine, but if you have no incentive to walk the landscape, they'll never be seen.
Buy Once Upon a Knight from Amazon.com