King Arthur: Legion IX Review – Nova Roma wasn’t built in a day!

Reviewed May 7, 2024 on PC




May 9, 2024





King Arthur: Legion IX is a Roman-themed sequel to NeoCore Games’ King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, starting life as DLC for the original game before being expanded into a fully-fledged separate entity. The RPG, city-building and strategy mechanics work well together for the most part and the unusual fantasy setting, blending together Roman, Celtic and Christian mythology, is reasonably compelling. However, despite some fun mechanics, the underwhelming plot and brutal difficulty spikes in the late game don’t make it the easiest recommendation to anyone but the biggest fans of tough strategy experiences.

King Arthur: Legion IX focuses on the mysterious Legion IX Hispana of Rome. In real life, this legion is widely considered to have disappeared in the area that is now Scotland in the 1st Century CE, prompting many theories of what happened to them. In King Arthur: Legion IX, the legion, led by Gaius Julius Mento, has been resurrected as undead demons in Avalon, a strange realm inhabited by Pict tribes, vicious undead and the cunning Sidhe. Gaius Julius Mento must rebuild his legion, found the settlement of Nova Roma in Avalon and choose between re-embracing his humanity or giving in fully to his new demonic state.

I have not played King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, but fortunately found King Arthur: Legion IX quite easy to follow despite this. The game’s plot mostly stands on its own, with the Arthurian mythos elements downplayed for the most part, to the extent that the first half of the game’s title feels a little misleading.

Unfortunately, what is there is still a bit hard to get invested in. You are called to make moral choices to influence the direction of your newly-established city of Nova Roma as well as make occasional dialogue choices during missions. However, and perhaps not historically-inaccurately, Gaius Julius Mento and his teammates come across as rude, colonising jerks who don’t even get along with one another very well, let alone the inhabitants of Avalon that they encounter. Despite each character having a particular leaning towards Humanity or Demonic, with moral choices improving their loyalty and unlocking optional benefits, they aren’t very deep or likable, which feels like an oversight for a game with as much dialogue as this one.

On the plus side, the actual gameplay of King Arthur: Legion IX is quite a bit more intriguing. Combat is turn-based, with the player controlling Gaius Julius Mento and 4-5 of his companions against waves of foes when they enter a combat arena within the explorable area. Each unit has a certain number of Action Points, or AP, which can be spent on movement and basic attacks, as well as using items and special abilities. It can feel somewhat overwhelming at first, with enemy teams substantially outnumbering your cohort along with being quite tanky. Fortunately, you are usually given sufficient tactical options to deal with them, including being able to pick from a selection of starting locations in many fights, using cover to avoid ranged attacks and a variety of useful abilities to take down multiple foes at once or divide their focus.

I was rather impressed at how creative and helpful some of the character abilities could be; in particular, my team’s mage, the Orcus priest Plutonius Nerva, could link two foes and copy any damage dealt to one foe to another, which combined with many attacks that poison or burn enemies would make short work of large groups when applied correctly. Other character abilities that could summon flaming birds to attack enemies, or fire a sunbeam out of a shield to damage and blind a row of foes, also hit that sweet spot of being both fun to use and feeling decently powerful. Positioning is also important, with both player characters and enemies able to deal extra damage when attacking from behind or when an opponent is moving out of melee range.

One reason the combat in King Arthur: Legion IX feels so intuitive is a fairly helpful and easy-to-read user interface. With coloured squares indicating how far a character can move and attack and green lines indicating when enemies would be in my attack range, I rarely found myself wasting turns by moving somewhere where I could not reach my foe.

However, while the level of challenge is mostly fair and manageable for the majority of the campaign, being reasonably difficult while far from overwhelming with character upgrades and smart ability use, this falls away as the game progresses. The reason the game’s Steam store page advertises the party size as 5-6 is because the game keeps on arbitrarily restricting your party size and preventing certain party members, most often very useful ones like the mage Plutonius Nerva or the flame priestess, Albina Vergilia, from joining in for that mission.

“…it stopped feeling like an interesting challenge and started to feel like a slog.”

Not only is it weakly justified by the narrative, but it just didn’t feel particularly fun or fair to be investing in equipment and ability upgrades for my party only to be randomly disallowed from using certain members when they would be most helpful. Many late game combat encounters in King Arthur: Legion IX also feel less open-ended than earlier ones, with fewer or no alternate starting points and less opportunities for cover. With the game restricting my coolest abilities and throwing large waves of tough foes at me, it stopped feeling like an interesting challenge and started to feel like a slog. Compare this to Classified: France ’44, which had large numbers of enemies who went down quickly, ensuring that despite the large amount of resistance, the game still had a nice flow to it.

When you aren’t out conquering Avalon, you are at Nova Roma upgrading your party and the city’s major buildings. In addition to improving the city, you can also purchase new skills for your party members and purchase new equipment. The game fortunately has no permadeath and allows for reallocating skill points for free, making experimenting with different abilities and character builds a breeze.

It isn’t the most in-depth city-building mechanic I’ve seen in an RPG, with each building having only a handful of upgrade tiers and a limited impact on gameplay. Still, it’s a welcome diversion between missions, and investing in replacing and upgrading my party’s equipment is certainly worth focusing on if you want to survive the game’s tougher challenges.

Looks-wise, King Arthur: Legion IX isn’t going to win many awards. While it is true that members of a Roman legion would have a uniform armour design, the decision to make the majority of your party masked zombies who wear similar outfits meant that I was often having to hover my mouse over them to check which one was which, as with the exception of the weapons they were wielding there wasn’t a whole lot to visually distinguish them at a glance. I did appreciate the enemy designs, however, which had a nice variety to them and looked sufficiently distinct from the Roman characters that it helped reinforce the extent to which the Romans are outsiders in this setting.




  • Plenty of varied and useful abilities to take down hordes of foes
  • Helpful and easy-to-read user interface made combat navigation very intuitive
  • Ability to pick different combat starting locations was a neat, if underused, feature


  • Playable characters aren't very deep or likeable
  • Restricting of certain party members feels arbitrary and unreasonably limiting
  • Late game difficulty spikes feel more tedious than fun
  • Playable characters aren't very visually distinct from one another

King Arthur: Legion IX is a decent strategy RPG experience, with an intuitive user interface, as well as cool abilities and gameplay ideas which strategy fans should find appealing. That said, with the game throwing waves of tanky foes at you while restricting the number of allies you can bring along, what starts as a fun and fair challenge begins to feel like an irritating slog before long. Couple that with a fairly unengaging and shallow cast and narrative and you’re left with a fun combat system and some interesting enemy designs, but not a whole lot more to it. If you enjoyed King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, then this Roman-themed additional campaign may be the new content which you have been waiting for. For anyone else, it is more of a tentative recommendation.