Heaven’s Vault was my favorite game that I played in 2019, so imagine my delight when I learned that inkle was already coming out with something new in 2020! This time, the story focuses on the tale of King Arthur and all the lore surrounding his life and those close to him.
I’m definitely more of a story-based person when it comes to games, but I decided to give this strategy game a try (I think the last time I played a strategy game was Oregon Trail in the 2nd grade). To my surprise, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve played of it! The thing is, I don’t think there is ever a real way to “beat” the game, because you can play it over and over again playing different heroes, taking different paths, and making different decisions. Depending on how you play, it is relatively short to get from the top of the story to the climax, but you’ll definitely have more fun if you explore and take your time.
This game feels a lot like chess. You have a board with squares, and depending on the person you are playing and what their abilities are, you can move on the board in specific ways to attack or retreat. Because I have barely ever played chess and strategy games in general are new to me, this took a bit for me to get used to, and I died a couple of times, but I got the hang of it eventually.
You move across the map from location to location and along the way you fight various creatures, and soldiers of Mordred. You also meet other characters in the story that you can play the next time around if you choose. I, of course, appreciate that there are a large number of badass women to play!
Anyone who listens to No Avatars Allowed will also know I’m super into the Celtic/British lore as well as history, so this was a fantastic fit for me. The music definitely was fitting and had a celtic feel, but also a militaristic drive that seemed to always be reminding you that time was running out.
The artwork was like seeing an old friend. After spending 17+ hours last year playing Heaven’s Vault, I had grown fond of the simple 2D art style, and it was a joy to see it again forming different scenes and characters. The story builds as you travel and Authurian lore comes to life in front of you the more you play the game. It’s not just about tactics - it’s about mythology.
The thing that I enjoyed about this game is that it gives you different levels of difficulty. On the levels I did, the game would give me hints on strategy and remind me of the rules of how each character could move across the board, but I imagine as I do harder levels, it will stop giving me assistance. Of course, the stakes get higher when you get to the final scenes and fight the main boss. But as someone who has always been daunted by strategy games, the warm up was appreciated.
I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the relevancy of this game in relation to the political climate today. The tale being told is probably one of the best known legends in the history of the world, and it takes place in Britain. The setting is when goodness has been drained out of the kingdom of Camelot and those who can bring it back are scattered around, having to find one another and band together to defeat the corrupt power.
I’m also going to go out on a limb and say it was no coincidence that inkle posted the below image on their twitter on the day the UK officially left the EU…
I will absolutely be thinking about how this game relates to politics (specifically Brexit and the current political climate of the US) as I continue my play through of this game. I have played a number of hours already but I still feel like there is so much lore to uncover. If you play Pendragon, let us know what you think and how it relates to the state of affairs in the world in 2020. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it at length on No Avatars Allowed!