For The King II is a strong reminder of a winning formula

Posted on November 15, 2023

Releasing onto PC recently is turn-based strategy game/RPG For The King II. This sequel has been in the works for 6 years now and has been a game much anticipated within the For The King fan base—myself absolutely included. Select your class, customise your load-out, and head into a fantasy world to complete quests, slay foes, and accumulate resources to help you overcome a growing threat.

For The King II will be instantly familiar to those who played the original. The game doesn’t shake up the formula set out by its predecessor, instead, it makes smart tweaks to advance the gameplay and strategy. However, with some features from the original game still missing and the occasional performance issue present, For The King II doesn’t make as strong of a debut as it perhaps otherwise should have.

Developed by IronOak Games and published by Curve Games, For The King II is entirely faithful to its roots. Playable solo or with up to 4 players in online co-op, you move your characters across an over-world grid in sequential turns. Every single action in this game is important and strategic. As you explore, you unveil more of the map, presenting new threats and opportunities. As the game progresses, the enemies around you get stronger, and an overall threat begins to close in. In order to succeed, you’ll need to be efficient and smart with each move. Do you go straight for the quests laid out before you, fight enemies to gain experience and loot, or try your luck at any of the additional encounters scattered around you?

Each character class is equipped with their own special trait(s) and proficiencies. Paying close attention to those advantages and disadvantages allows you to build a team that synergises with one another brilliantly. The Herbalist, for example, starts with high Intelligence and Awareness stats, making Intelligence and Awareness weapons viable. Perhaps more importantly, this class can also find beneficial herbs as they explore and come naturally equipped with an area-of-effect heal that comes in clutch a lot. Other character classes have their own unique interactions, such as the Sheppard who picks up sheep followers over time or the Alchemist who finds and uses bombs on the regular. Not all classes are unlocked from the get-go, so constant play and replay is built into the experience as you continue to uncover new permanent and meaningful unlocks.

Combat in For The King II is a satisfying upgrade to the old formula. It still plays like a JRPG with turn-based attacks, but now there’s the additional freedom of a grid you can move around with advantages depending on where you’re positioned. It adds an extra layer to the strategy and allows for fun new mechanics such as hazard and bonus tiles, and crowd-control in the form of movement attacks. Similarly, For The King II is full of fun little advancements over the original concept. I appreciate the change to healing pipes giving more variety and diversifying the strategy when compared to the first game’s linear upgrade path. Building more of an economy around secondary actions also makes for a lot of fun and variability.

Despite having some significant changes that feel great, For The King II is still missing a few things that made the original superb. Not having access to an endless dungeon mode such as Hildebrant’s Cellar from the original is a fairly sizable loss. Classes, such as a Minstrel, is another notable absence. It’s just a shame that despite being bigger and better in so many ways, the game upon release is still missing some features that had already been present in the previous game. We can likely expect to see these additions in the future as the game continues to receive love through post-release content.

For The King II is a big game. It’s a game designed for replayability and it really does provide that ‘one more turn’ mentality that’s just so addictive. The slow pace of the game may deter some, but for those of us who love the deep strategy of it all, the game becomes an absolute delight and time-killer. It also works just so beautifully both solo and multiplayer, albeit with a few cheeky glitches that do interrupt the flow. Some connection issues and performance problems impacted my playtime, though thankfully the autosave functionality will take you back to the start of your latest turn should a crash or other issue force a restart.

For those looking for an engaging new strategy game on the PC, it’s hard to look past For The King II available now on Steam.