Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
It’s all too easy to be glum about 1c’s now long-running comedy-fantasy, strategy-RPG series, given its sequels’ resolute resistance to do almost anything new, but let’s put grumbling aside and look back to when King’s Bounty: The Legend was the freshest face in freshtown.
To this day, I don’t know how much of its comedy – getting hitched to zombies, upgrading items of clothing by going all Inner Space and battling demons lurking inside them, guerilla dragon dentistry – was intentional and how much was a happy accident of lost in translation. Or, indeed, how much was simply down to a certain stream of conscious writing/story style. I don’t want to know either, because my memories are so fond. These days I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose what I play, but back then, when I mostly existed in the freelance badlands, a steady stream of uninspiring Euro-RPGs filled up my hard drive. They were my daily bread – in that I had to play them in order to afford bread – and most of them bored me senseless.
As did screenshots of King’s Bounty: The Legend, nominally a remake of the ancient Heroes of Might & Magic precursor. It looked like Any Game of that time.
It wasn’t. It isn’t. It’s got, well, spunk. It’s funny, at least for its first half, its battles are highly strategic and pop in a way that, in retrospect, reminds me of Hearthstone, and it’s delightfully compulsive. It’s also got all sorts of balance issues that make progression extremely hard work at times, which is half the fun. When the later games ironed that out they couldn’t possibly offer the same sense of achievement.
Sure, it’s a chore in its latter half, but you’ll get a good twenty hours of creature-collecting and creature-battling in before that happens.
Now please wipe my memory so I can play it again.