MG’s Take: King’s Field (PS1)
Author :        Date : 29-Aug-08

One of the initial releases for the Sony PlayStation, King’s Field, published by ASCII Entertainment and developed by From Software, was a truly next-gen game for its time.  This game was the first FP RPG, set in a massive environment where you alone dictate the game’s action and events.  The primary antagonist (Alexander/you) is left completely free to choose their own path to discover the vast island you are shipwrecked upon.  This may seem somewhat daunting to gamers who prefer a more linear approach to their gaming experience.

This lengthy adventure pits our hero in search of the Moonlight Sword, which is required to save his home kingdom of Verdite.  You are left on your own to recover this great artifact, given no direction at all.  Your adventure thus begins.

Armed with your trusty sword, you venture into this unknown world on your quest.  Many upgraded swords, weapons, armor, and magic are at your disposal – but first you must find them.  Some are rather obvious, but most are hidden behind secret walls and openings you must first ncover.  This is a great part of the King’s Field experience – you never know what you will find and must be very explorative as you progress through the various parts of this island.

The FP game play rate hovers around 15-30 FPS, depending upon the amount of activity at any given time.  The World is seamless and huge – there are no loading times between various sections of the island, which is detailed in full polygonal graphics with dark, almost gritty texture mapping.  The feel of this island is almost surreal and is completely grim, which adds significantly to the overall appeal of this adventure.

The background music is appropriate for the varied environments that you will traverse.  However, the sound samplings for the creatures and actions are perfect.  Though rather unspectacular on their own, the sound of a monster cackling around the corner or your sword striking a deserving foe are top-notch and performed at just the right time, and volume, to further enhance your experience.

King’s Field is a difficult game.  Your progress through the various sections is impeded by the level of the fiends that you encounter, right from the beginning of this saga.  Enemy AI is not that great, but at times this is compensated for by the sheer numbers that you will encounter.

The control is excellent, using the D-Pad to navigate/move/look at this richly detailed world.  Executing attacks and other actions are intuitive and easy to perform.  The minimal numbers of NPCs that you will encounter interact with you slightly, and are pretty much useless, though their ghostly, undefined faces are somewhat appropriate for this journey.

Overall, King’s Field is not for everyone.  The graphics and sound are average, though collectively are entirely effective.  The game play is rather slow and requires time to navigate the island.  For those that are more akin to pure action-adventure type games, this will probably put you to sleep.  On the other hand, if exploration and having the freedom to discover and create your own experience is your cup of tea, don’t miss this hidden gem.

Special thanks to Hardcore Gaming 101 for some of the screenshots.

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