King’s Bounty II from 1C Entertainment is the long-awaited sequel to 2008’s fantasy roleplaying game King’s Bounty The Legend. You take control of one of three characters each destined to be the hero of the realm of Nostria. Warrior Aivar, descendant of a noble family and knight of the king’s guard, Mage Katherine, Countess of the rulers of Nostria’s rugged mountain region, or Paladin Elisa, a peasant girl from Lorian. Your choice alters your available abilities and accessibility of various areas throughout the game.
The main gameplay takes the shape of top-down, turn-based battles against various creatures found roaming the lands of Nostria; these can vary anywhere from bearded dwarves to colossal stone golems. Once you encounter a foe, the battle will then unfold on a hexagonal grid and you'll take leadership of the units you've acquired along your journey so far, both moving and attacking strategically across the various spaces, in similar style to XCOM. With every unit having various stats to determine how far they can move, how hard they hit, and the range of their attacks, these battles can be very strategic and enjoyable.
However, putting a single foot wrong can be very costly as a unit’s deaths is permanent and there's no way for them to return. Also, should all your units fall in battle, you must either reload a previous save to try again or explore the realm for extended periods of time to acquire a new army in order to proceed with the story.
In between battles you are presented with a third-person, open world cinematic experience, in which you are free to explore the realm of Nostria, finding chests and crates to loot, completing various side missions for Nostria’s inhabitants, and purchasing new units from recruiters that can be found in towns dotted across the map. Although there are activities to do outside of the turn-based battles, the world feels very barren, and this isn’t helped by the fact it takes an age to travel through it. The sluggish movement speed provided to the player and the horse being heavily restricted to certain areas leaves you wishing for a much better way to move your arse through Nostria.
If you're willing to invest your time learning the battle system and strategies to succeed in King’s Bounty II then there'll be some enjoyment to be found here. However, the game is very unforgiving with your time, forcing you to spend hours completing dull side missions and looting various places to level up your units, only for them to be slain in the next main mission battle you fight. Also constantly having to reload saves just to progress through the story feels very outdated.