ROFLPlaying Game: Frayed Knights

By Alec Meer on October 18th, 2011 at 10:39 am.

The LeChuck level, presumably

We’ve recently been asked a few times why we haven’t posted anything about comedy RPG Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. The answer is simple: that game is humanity’s last defence against a dark conspiracy of unimaginable corruption and malevolence, RPS is at the heart of which. Our excuse that we’re just four men against forty-eight thousand billion PC games and so can’t possibly cover everything is just that: an excuse. Were we to break our unholy covenant and post about Rampant Games’ excitable indie turn-based roleplayer Frayed Knights, our plan to consume the miserable souls of every teenager in Basingstoke could never come to pass.

Curses! Now I shall never know supreme power.

Here’s how Frayed Knights looks and, indeed, sounds. As you’ll see, it’s in the vein of venerable, highly statistical and slow-paced PC dungeon crawlers of yesteryear, rather than this namby-pamby hand-holding ADD new breed that’s for idiot children or whatever it is the bitter old men say these days:

Looks ambitious and meaty despite the lightness of the dialogue. Not personally sure about the Whedon-aping comedy from that trailer, but hey! Subjectivity and all that. Here’s the summary of who/what/why:

‘In a world of jaded heroes and veteran adventurers, you play a team of misfits: Arianna, a dainty warrior with an attitude problem; Dirk, an adrenaline-junky rogue who doesn’t seem to understand the word ‘subtle;’ Benjamin, a nature-priest and an ill-suited newcomer to the adventuring lifestyle, and Chloe, a ditsy sorceress with a love of cute, fuzzy animals and setting her enemies on fire.”

The game’s out now for $23, so you’ll be wanting to look at the demo (linked on the right of this page) before you stump that up. I’ve downloaded it for a look a bit later, once I finally get HoMM VI out the way.

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46 Comments »

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  1. schizopol says:

    A dungeon crawler which won’t drive you periodically insane! -TM

    • dontnormally says:

      Unless you can’t stand papyrus.

    • Noumenon says:

      I don’t have much time for font snobs under normal circumstances, but when it’s keeping you from experiencing an innovatively designed new game? Go post on RockPaperTimesNewRoman.com.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    Cool RPS!

    Frayed Knights is old school RPG revival. And anyone who loves complex dungeon crawlers in style of Wizardry , will enjoy this one. Surprisingly excellent humor is a bonus :D

    And there is a lot gameplay in demo itself to burn couple of roleplay hours ;)

  3. Creeping Death says:

    Ok I need to know… Why Basingstoke? My experiences give me the impression souls from Basingstoke would be neither tasty or nutritious!

  4. danimalkingdom says:

    Although, Basingstoke… This all suddenly makes sense. My very soul seemed to shudder whenever I entered upon its environs as a boy. Some men would say it was the spittle-encrusted hosts of ruffians that roamed the passages and pathways, but I’ll wager, nay, I’ll be damned to my dying day if the villainous plans of this very site did not account for it.

  5. The Tupper says:

    It’s okay Alec: you have supreme power over our hearts.

  6. danimalkingdom says:

    I should add I love the old-school format of this. I’ll need to have a play and see if the humour is my cup of tea. I always thought Elder Scrolls games had copious humour and struck a fine balance between taking itself massively seriously and not taking itself very seriously at all.

  7. The Tupper says:

    Slightly concerned by this:

    “Benjamin, a nature-priest”

    I think I bumped into one o’them at my friend’s seminary school.

  8. sneetch says:

    I’m not sure about the “wacky” characters and their “ker-azy” dialogue but I’ll definitely give the demo a shot, been a long time since I played one of these.

  9. Noumenon says:

    Here are the posts I made about what I loved during and after finishing the game. (no real spoilers) I’m replaying it now, trying to beat it at a lower level.

  10. endintears says:

    Parody fantasy does NOTHING for me.

    I could barely get over it for Dungeons of Dredmor, and I won’t be making the effort for this game. Which is a shame judging by the feedback it’s received. Instead I’ll look forward to the serious Legend of Grimrock – http://www.grimrock.net/

    • Lobotomist says:

      I feel the same way as you.
      I usually take my fantasy “serious” and drink my coffe black ;)

      But the game won me over.

      The humor in this case just “works”

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      You don’t like Quest for Glory? You don’t like Terry Pratchett?

      Pity.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Yea, Grimrock looks sweet.

    • Zeewolf says:

      TillEulenspiegel: Quest for Glory was awesome _in spite of_ the dreadful humour. Though I really, really wish they’d toned the joking down about a hundred notches for QfG 4.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Blasphemy! QFG wouldn’t be QFG without its moments of zaniness and death-puns and odd characters. QFG5 definitely went off the rails with the gnome, but that game had a lot of problems.

      It’s like Buffy. The funny bits make the drama more dramatic.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      People, get yourselves over to Berserker Quest 6 pronto. No dubious humour, nor any tedious turn-based battles! Or try “Deadly Dungeons” / “Descend” if you have the appropriate hardware.

    • pipman3000 says:

      god forbid someone pokes fun at our silly elf games

    • endintears says:

      TillEulenspiegel:

      Pratchett yes but it’s hardly a fair comparison because they’re different mediums.

      Let’s just say that QfG is the exception to the rule. You and I both know the series is a work of genius.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Well, fair enough. I definitely prefer people to err on the side of non-comedy, given the number of painfully unfunny games out there. But I thought Frayed Knights was pretty decent. Not brilliant, but not cringeworthy either.

  11. Unaco says:

    What’s character creation and party selection like? Some of this parody comedy can be somewhat hit & miss with myself… would be good to kick the annoying buggers out of the party.

    • Noumenon says:

      You can’t kick anyone out of the party — even when they’re incapacitated, they’ll still mumble their lines through barely moving lips. Character development is about giving the four existing party members feats.

    • Unaco says:

      So… there is no character creation, or party selection/management?

    • eddparsons says:

      Character creation = No.

      You get the standard 4 characters which you then level up.

      I tried the demo, seems like a solid enough game but didn’t click for me.

  12. Nick says:

    Missing character creation is a big mistake imo, especially when your characters aren’t remotely as funny as you think they are.

    Still probably worth a punt however, as there is precious else new around.

    • Wizardry says:

      I feel the same way. Character creation can be half the fun of games such as Wizardry. This is a classic example of style (comedy dialogue) over depth (character creation) that we see in nearly all games that are called RPGs today.

      I’ll probably pick it up, but not at $23.

      Thanks for covering this, though!

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, I’m having a hard time getting past the lack of character creation here too. It’s a style of game I really enjoy, but I’m a bit dubious about the quality of the comic writing and downright annoyed that I’m stuck with stock characters. As I understand it there’s a huge amount of customization, such that you can push those characters into new roles and archetypes, but it’s still not the same thing.

      Eh, like Wizardry, I’ll probably pick it up eventually (but not at full price).

    • Wizardry says:

      The thing is I can’t imagine it’d be too hard adding character creation. With some effort the developer could copy Wizardry 8’s formula of assigning “personalities” to characters in order to give them the dialogue.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Disagreed.

      Character creation at the beginning of a game isn’t necessary. IT might be the “classic” or old-school way of doing it, but what is wrong with shaping a character during the game?

      Not that Frayed Knights has the best implementation of that either, but come on, Wizardry 8 / Might & Magic 9 were a long, long time ago now… we’re lucky to see ANY first-person dungeon crawlers right now. The more the merrier.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Casimir

      I can only speak for myself, but for me it’s about a sense of ownership. If I didn’t make them, they’re not really *my* characters. It’s not that there’s something “wrong” with shaping pregenerated characters, I just find I’m significantly less invested in a character if I’m not the one that crafted it from the ground up. Blame my PnP roots, if you like.

      Regardless, experience tells me I get far more enjoyment, and far more replayability, out of games that let me make my own characters. Consequently, games that don’t let me make my own character, regardless of their other merits, are worth less to me.

      Edit: Also, come to think of it, a robust character creation system is often one of the best ways to learn the mechanics of a new RPG. I bounced right off the demo for Frayed Knights, and on reflection I think that’s a sizable part of the reason why.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I’m with Vinraith & Wizardry here – character creation is (or can be) a significant chunk of the fun in a game, and really helps to cement the “investment”. This isn’t just *a* dwarf warrior, the is *my* dwarf warrior.

      It’s not even like you can’t give people an easy way out by adding a set of pre-rolled characters to use if they can’t be bothered.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Casimir’s Blake: Yes. Let’s shape our characters gender, race, social class and background during the game. Characters could start off as a genderless unknown blob and morph slowly into a noble human knight from a well respected family.

      It doesn’t work. Games have a beginning and an end. Everything before the beginning and after the end cannot be “played”. A character creation stage is the only way for the player to decide what the game can assume about the player character’s past.

  13. Urthman says:

    The game itself looks great, but I don’t think I could stand to look at those terrible “wacky” portraits long enough to find out.

    Seriously, if those are just jpegs in a folder I could swap out for something less grating, I’d try this.

    • Noumenon says:

      They are swappable, I heard the dev say so (darned if I can find it on the forum search, though). I think there are even some other images in the same directory you could use.

    • Olderman says:

      Confirmed, they’re png files though :)

  14. JackDandy says:

    Hot dog, this looks sweet. Let’s give it a go…

    And on an unrelated note- thanks, RPS. You really bring a lot of otherwise unknown game to my attention! And they mostly kick ass.

    EDIT: Holy damn this is kind of unpolished. But I will preserver.

  15. Casimir's Blake says:

    HANG ON A MINUTE??

    A FIRST PERSON DUNGEON CRAWLER!? I thought they were EXTINCT!

    So there are others out there that find Elder Scrolls’ endless wasteland worlds empty (I like the dungeons, ok?? I will still be buying Skyrim…) and prefer to make games about DUNGEONS. Thank goodness.

    My faith in humanity is restored.

    (BTW as it happens I’m genuinely shocked AND pleased because there are in fact a few dungeon crawlers around right now, including Frayed Knights, Berserker Quest 6, Legend Of Grimrock, Sword of Ahkranox, Deadly Dungeons, and Descend for iOS.

    RPS! Please cover Berserker Quest 6! It’s a free-form King’s Field-em-up action dungeon-crawling-RPG which is FREE and there is a relatively sizeable demo available NOW! Oh and it’s based on the Quake engine, so it runs at a billion frames a second even on Intel video!

  16. Demiath says:

    Nice to see Frayed Knights featured on RPS, and the sheer importance of a new RPG that is both party-based, turn-based and first-person at the same time cannot be underestimated. For those of us with an interest in traditional RPGs that stretches far beyond the recent batch of trendy, commercialized roguelikes this release is a Big Deal, and despite the game’s light-hearted tone (which works surprisingly well and has very little impact on the actual gameplay) I’d urge anyone who has been waiting for a serious RPG since, say, Wizardry 8 (2001) to support Rampant Games. Rest assured that there will be more of the same if you do…

  17. Saldek says:

    Hey, is this the “Frayed Knights of the Old Republic” Jedi Armour DLC?
    Sorry, I should have resisted :P

  18. Dozer says:

    0:08 A kingdom in peril has need of great typographers once again.

    PAPYRUUUUUUUSSSSS!!!!