King’s Bounty: My Zombie Wife & The Belt O’Doom

So I gazed up at the mountain of games about guns due this Autumn, and I sighed a little. Did I burn myself out on all those FPSes last year? Are, heaven forfend, my baser instincts now somehow in check? I will play Far Cry 2 and Dead Space and Fallout 3, but right now they’re not what appeal. I made it about 15 minutes into Crysis Warhead before the oh-this-again tedium hit, and I blame myself more than I do the game for that. I wanted something a little different, something I could sink into on more than a purely visceral level, but I didn’t know what.

Turns out it was King’s Bounty: The Legend, the RPG-strategy remake/sequel from some of the good (mad) folks behind Space Rangers 2. I’m not going to review it or even describe it here. Instead, I’m going to tell two stories that aptly demonstrate the insanity-ingenuity of the thing.

Briefly though, it’s basically Heroes of Might & Magic (the original King’s Bounty having been the source of those games), but, well, better: faster and sillier and bigger. It’s mad and weird and unfair and the Russian-English translation is a disaster. It’s also gloriously ridiculous and constantly inventive. It’s exactly what I wanted to play right now, and I’m quietly confident it’s going to be one of the games I most enjoy this year.

First, the belt story. I found a belt! This was excellent news, as armour for my main character is rare and expensive. Better yet, the belt, apparently, could be upgraded. Right-click to upgrade, it said. So I did. I expected the game to tell me I was lacking Rare Crystal X or something, but I was surprised. “Are you sure you want to fight the keepers?”, it asked. “Er,” I said. “Yes? But I thought I was upgrading my be…”

Suddenly, I find myself here:

I’m fighting inside my belt, at war with mystic guardians for the right to build a better belt. Unfortunately, it turned out said mystic guardians outnumbered my own meagre, low-level army by 10 to 1, so I was roundly thrashed within seconds. Now, in any other fight in the game, if all your troops get knobbled, you continue – respawning at the main town and receiving some sympathy cash to go hire some new guys with. This time, I got a game over screen. I was perma-killed by my own belt. Man! That’s never happened to me before. The lesson here: never upgrade your belt.

(Inevitably, I tried again later, when I was several levels higher. And I won! Hundreds of my troops were killed, but my belt is now 1 better at defence. And really, that’s all that matters.)

Then there’s my wife. Various characters in the game kept recommending I get married, but beyond the king’s child daughter rather unnervingly flirting with me and some polite chit-chat with an old lady who sold plant-beasts, I couldn’t find any women in the game, let alone one to make my bride. Then I met Hake, the robber-baron. He was in a bit of bind because his wife had turned into a zombie. As is so often the way in anything RPGy, he tasked me with solving his problem. So I duly did some trekking about for him, and eventually discovered the magic phrase that would de-zombify the poor lass. A hero is me.

At which point he revealed that, actually, having an undead wife was quite handy – she could test his food for poisons and… well, his reasons weren’t entirely convincing, if I’m honest. And that’s when a surprising dialogue option appeared. There was always at least one vaguely psychotic response I could choose in any given conversation, but requesting if I could buy a man’s wife off him was a whole new layer of madness. I couldn’t not go for it, but fully expected violent reprisal for my cheek.

Except he agreed. For just 5000g (not a lot in KB’s money-rich landscape), I had myself a wife. Not just any old wife – a zombie wife. I was married to a zombie. Ew. A zombie who I could talk to about having kids. Ewww.

I didn’t really want to go there, but fortunately it turned out I could use that magic de-zombie phrase whenever I wanted, so I did the gentlemanly thing: restored her humanity, pledged undying love, and fathered a child. Then, with my heir sorted, I turned her back into a zombie again. Then I divorced her for someone else. The combat bonuses were better, you understand.

Later, I performed amateur dentistry on a dragon, fought a turtle as big as a castle and fed 89 giant snakes to a fish-god. I love King’s Bounty.

If you’re looking to buy King’s Bounty – and you should – your best bet is probably a download through Gamersgate.


  1. Chris R says:

    That sounds like a blast! I’ll have to pick it up. Er… where can I pick it up? Does Steam have it?

  2. Leeks! says:

    I think that Disgaea did the ‘upgrade equipment by fighting the ghosts that inexplicably reside in it’ thing as well.

    Also, reviews be damned. That last screen was enough to sell me.

  3. Fumarole says:

    But turn-based RPGs are so outdated. Right?

  4. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Leeks

    It’s actually a tough call to say whether that screen shot is better than the Goo “Lets go shopping!” screen shot. But I’ve pre-ordered goo and I’m now going through gamers gate to download this. This sort of suggests all those Crytek PR people had it wrong all along.

    Edit: Erm I would get it but the word on the street is that it just can’t jive with Vista 64.

  5. Wolfox says:

    I’m playing it and it’s brilliant. If you liked the gameplay of HoMM V (combat-wise) and the humor in Shrek (the movie), you’ll love this game.

  6. Sahagin says:

    I was a little disappointed you couldn’t have zombie babies. Other than that this game is stellar.

  7. Chris says:

    Been on the fence. I really didn’t care for HoMM V or Disciples I/II. It felt like a “do things in the right order” puzzle or you can’t get past the beasties at location X. And don’t you dare suffer a loss or close victory and try to build back up, because there won’t be enough wimpy beasties around to improve your stack.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    I am horrified at Alec’s behaviour towards his Zombie wife. This may be the end of RPS.


  9. bitkari says:

    I’ll give this a go. Big Space Rangers fan, and loved King’s Bounty back oh so many years ago.

    ..Assuming that I have some free time on my hands after Fallout 3, Red Alert 3, Mirror’s Edge, and (probably) Fable 2.

  10. Mark says:

    Sounds wonderfully mad. Will check it out.

    The levelling of items definitely sounds Disgaea flavoured

    And even though this is a PC site – by Crikey – Disgaea is a game that everyone should at least have a pop at. Any game that lets you exploit and abuse its ruleset to the extent Disgaea does has to be applauded.

  11. Andrew says:

    The answer you seek, my son, only poses more questions.

    Ask many women why relationship has failed, each woman offer unique reason for demise.

    One woman may say ‘Man could not commit’ or ‘Man is douche and is now free to make love to himself instead’. Other woman may say ‘Man has changed’ or even ‘Man is no longer satisfactory lover’. But my son, ask many men same question, all over the world, why has relationship failed?

    Each man, each time, will give same, simple answer:

    “I turned her into a zombie because the combat bonuses were better.”

  12. Flubb says:

    I wish the hero battles would give you some sort of bonus other than just experience.
    (My wife was a frog)
    I added a Kraken to my Giant Turtle deaths. Love the game.

  13. Arathain says:

    Having your wife represented as a bonus giving item… gives a whole new meaning to objectification of women, doesn’t it?

    • belgand says:

      Hmm… but if she’s an object then he should be able to go inside her and fight the guardian monsters that reside there in order to level her up, right?

      I desperately want a game that goes there now. Are you listening NIS? You know you want to put that into the next Disgaea!

  14. splash says:

    In Disgaea 2 the only item I’ve sucessfully upgraded is a piece of chewing gum. That game is awesome-crazy.

  15. Chris R says:

    What, no Far Cry 2 in there as well bitkari?

  16. Matt N says:

    Sounds about right for something from the makers of SR2. I really wanted to like SR2 but at any point in the game you could find yourself unknowingly thrown into a text adventure. Such adventures could have over 100 questions and answering a single one of them wrong could result in an instant game over.

  17. James G says:

    I played the demo and while I found it fun, I was a bit unconvinced by the combat. However I think part of this was a symptom of ‘early game syndrome’ and also because I didn’t fully understand some of the details. For those of you who have played the full game in a bit more depth, (Ie. Alec), does the combat have a sufficiently tactical element that you can really think about how you approach each encounter, without it just being a matter of who has more people, or zombies?

  18. CakeAddict says:

    While I’m not really into this type of game the craziness of it compels me to buy it…
    And I’ll probably will tomorrow since I’ll be in town.
    I hope it’s not addictive, I’m suppose to do other things with my time!

  19. O.G.N says:

    Bhazor, what is supposed to be the problem with Vista 64? I haven’t had time to play it much yet, but it seems to work quite well on my machine.

  20. wcaypahwat says:

    I loved the old King’s Bounty. Until I lost the manual. Damned DRM!

  21. Ian says:

    This sounds way too loopy to not at least try. I shall endeavour to do upon the forth coming weekend at some point.

  22. Nick says:

    “restored her humanity, pledged undying love, and fathered a child. Then, with my heir sorted, I turned her back into a zombie again.”


  23. bonuswavepilot says:

    @Nick: worse yet – a necromysoginist.

    (I’d go see a band called necromysogonist…)

  24. Nick says:

    I’m going to call my band that now.

    When I start one.

  25. tmp says:

    I read you can also somehow marry a castle in this game at some point. Don’t really care if it’s result of poor translation or plain ol’ lie, the concept itself goes so far beyond the awesome it just cannot be ignored.

  26. Xyzzy says:

    Oooh. That’s a neat game. Pity my 6150 graphics don’t work for it.

  27. Ginger Yellow says:

    Presumably there’s a Russian language version available. I might have to check it out. Russian jokes often don’t translate well.

  28. newt says:

    does the combat have a sufficiently tactical element that you can really think about how you approach each encounter

    Oh yes.

    Hordes of zombies do help, though.

  29. Turin Turambar says:

    King’s Bounty:
    HoMM 3-kind-of-a-game combined with the structure of a RPG instead of a strategy game (completing quests, leveling up your hero, your talents, upgrading your armies, your magical weapons, your spells, leveling up your spirits of rage) makes a hell of an addictive game.

    The game is very focused in the tactical battles, so sometimes it can burn the players (a fight, another fight, another fight…) They are like the already mentioned HOMM3 but better thanks to a slightly bigger battlefields (not really much bigger, but units are usually slower), great variety of units with tons of unique abilites (every creature have 2-7 special abilities or talents), a good repertorie of spells which can change a battle in a lot of directions (lots of ‘tactical’ spells, instead of just direct damage spells), and some interactive stuff in the battlefield like cursed statues, chests, explosive barrels, etc.

  30. Bobsy says:

    Anything that puts me in mind of Age of Wonders is ultra-good.

  31. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I had a hard time believing King’s Bounty was crazier than Space Rangers 2, until I read this. Oh damn, me wants.

  32. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i know it’s not really the point but i finished warhead last night and found it a tremendous disappointment, imo it’s not a patch on crysis, although i must say they did get the action ‘splodes thing right.

  33. Dogman says:

    Couldn’t help but find the game incredibly tedious

  34. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Indeed, Bobsy, this talk is making me consider digging out Age of Wonders again – that had great tactical battles compared to HoMM.

  35. Paul Montesanti says:

    This game sounds insane.

  36. Simon says:

    The battles in this game are closer to the one in HOMM than the ones of AoW but this game is still fun and refreshing. You don’t have to bother about defending your cities, training troops… it’s mostly about fighting,questing, looting and exploring. In this way, it’s closer from a rpg than usually traditional turn-based strategy games are.

  37. Filipe says:

    I really enjoyed Space Rangers 2, though the translation killed a lot of the potential fun I could’ve been having.

  38. sukamprit says:

    Turn based strategy IS outdated, but NOT King’s Bounty !
    I played original KB 18 years ago, and still remember it. Try to play Heroes, but i dont like it (boring). Then i play new King’s Bounty, great moment of my gaming life. Buy it or regret forever..

  39. PAul says:

    One of the best and most fresh games in years!
    I still play HMM3 (probably the most exciting and replayable multiplayer game) every other weekend, but now it’s all KING’S BOUNTY.
    It’s a NON-STOP battle.
    Great quests.
    Beautiful graphics.
    Addicting and crazy … a MUST HAVE!

  40. grimpr says:

    Fantastic game, brings back classic pc gaming good old days…where hard work, fun,art, and deep gameplay were paramount..lots of love went from team Katauri into this title and it shows!, So if you waited for years for something to bring you countless hours of fun,buy now! or die..its an already PC Classic in my list.

  41. John Evans says:

    When you said undying love, you weren’t kidding.

  42. BB says:

    Does this have any DRM on it like Space Rangers 2 did when I got it on CD? Because that stuff is the devil. =(

  43. DD says:

    this. game. sounds. awesome.

  44. Mesocog says:

    Playing the updated demo now. One cool thing about this game is how often it crashes. I mean, it really takes me back to the good old days when games were really cool and unstable and crashed your machine a lot. It rocks.

  45. chris says:

    GamersGate download server is incredibly slow, I’m getting 10-20kb/sec. Using Direct to Drive for games in the past I’ve always gotten 700-800kb/sec. So I don’t think you should recommend buying directly from GamersGate, unless you also recommend waiting 3 days for the game.

  46. njorl says:

    Thanks for the heads up about this game. I picked it up last week and it is probably the best game I played this year aside from STALKER. It is certainly the most addictive.

  47. RichPowers says:

    This game seems perfect for the Steam treatment…

  48. Ruhruhruh says:

    This game sounds really hilarious!!!!!!!!!

  49. Devildog says:

    Does want.