At first glance, Portal Knights could be mistaken for just another Minecraft clone, but, if you keep looking, it quickly becomes apparent there’s a lot more to it than that. Having been in early access on Steam for the past year - a span of time in which developer Keen Games took constant feedback from the community - Portal Knights features the necessary depth and complexity to make it a varied and fun-filled experience in its own right.
You land at set points after using one of the aforementioned portals, which can be changed by crafting new markers once you’ve gathered a few resources and unlocked some of the more specialist crafting options by upgrading your workbench. The bench is your creative hub, and really where the Minecraft comparison is the most apt, though items are more deliberately sorted and categorised here. You’ll also need additional benches to craft specialist items, be it an anvil for Warrior gear, an archer station for Ranger gear, or an altar for souped-up Mage equipment.
The addictive nature of the game’s main thrust may prove enough to hold your attention for longer than the 30 hours it would take to power through the main questline.
On that note, at the beginning of the game you’re asked to choose one of three fairly bog standard character classes - Warrior, Ranger or Mage. There are a few implications to this choice, as Warriors wield melee weapons, Rangers use (you guessed it) ranged weapons and Mages play with magic wands, naturally. Aside from each class having unique unlockable abilities which you can choose between at roughly five-level intervals, they pretty much serve as loose suggestions, with characters growing based on which skills (Dexterity, Strength, etc.) you assign points to. This means you could make a beefy, tankish magic user if you felt like it, or a particularly nimble Warrior.
Whatever your build, you’ll fight enemies reminiscent of creatures you might come across in The Legend of Zelda, particularly those which add elemental typings to the same base enemy, as Breath of the Wild fans will be all too familiar with (curse you Wizzrobes!). Certain armour provides bonus defence against certain elements, and depending on how willing you are to grind the rarest materials or craft the most complex gear, you can find yourself with astonishingly high defence to absorb the wrath of most foes.
You can team up online with up to three other players if ever you require aid on your quest, with one player acting as host and everyone else coming to visit, but, beyond that, there are no additional modes. The addictive nature of the game’s main thrust may prove enough to hold your attention for longer than the 30 hours it would take to power through the main questline, however.
Portal Knights boasts more deliberate direction and increased complexity over Minecraft, while still managing to keep things straightforward enough to be accessible. The game’s design is endearing and makes basic RPG elements easy to get to grips with, proving to be a good bridge for youngsters in transitioning towards more ‘grown-up’ games, and to be good, laid-back fun for adults.