Since the dawning of Minecraft several years ago, so many games have followed in its wake. Where in the mid 2000's I was complaining about the over saturation of WWII FPS games, now in 2017 I'm complaining about Minecraft clones and how it seems daily there is several more drops in that bucket. Last year when Portal Knights launched on PC, I paid little mind to it and wrote it off quickly. Looks like the joke was on me, because if I had actually given it a chance I would've seen that despite the clear cut inspiration Minecraft laid in place, Portal Knights is more of an RPG-lite than just trying to do what Minecraft does.
Not Pie In The Sky, But Islands
A world decimated, torn asunder, sounds like a much bleaker backdrop than the kid-friendly graphical presentation shows. What remains of this post apocalyptic landscape is divided up into islands in the sky, of seperate biomes and different flora and fauna among them. Randomly generated, you'll never get the same world twice ( a common theme among these sorts of games). Your goal as either a brave Warrior, a casting Mage, or an Archer striking from afar, is to relink what remains of the world through the use of portals (hence the name Portal Knights).
Unlike Minecraft, there is just enough of a narrative push forward that kept me from hunkering down and building on one island for too long. From small outpost, to small outpost I would mine, farm, and kill what I needed to push onto my next goal. Whether that be downing an occassional boss, or opening a new portal to another island.
Both crafting and combat are rather simplistic, but the former does still allow for some rather creative minds to play. When I did finally settle things down for a while, I set up a small two level home and a decent field to farm in. It wasn't anything as grandeous as the screenshots of castles and fortresses that some would build, but it did suit my needs. Perhaps when I'm done island hopping, I'll finally settle in somewhere long enough to stay put and build up a castle of my own. That creative itch is also able to be scratched while you make your character, as there's a decent amount of appearance options to mix and match to ensure that you won't see clones of yourself -too- often.
Enemy designs are unique in variation, but mostly a breeze to face down. If you're a warrior, it's a matter of tanking, dodging, and smashing the hell out of your attack button. For a caster and archer? Just keep your distance and keep bringing down the hailstorm of damage. What does make enemies different, especially the bosses, are some of them -really- hurt. Not to a Dark Souls level of pain, but let me put it this way it was a surprise when I'd gone so long without dying only to be decimated in a window of 15 seconds. Other than that occassional surprise, there's not much of a difficulty curve to speak of.
More than anything, I'd say Portal Knights felt mostly pleasant to me. A relaxing push forward, the visual asthetic along with the relatively unthreatening enemies (barring a few surprises) it seems like despite the push forward, the game is more encouraging of players willing to stop and smell the roses; and then build a huge castle on top of them. The game also sports co-op, but in my time with the title I was unable to take that for a spin. But as far as my single player experience is concerned, it's a good way to relax and kill an hour or two at a time and with a low price tag it makes it that much more inviting.