I guess it’s that time of year again. Joymax are back after the not-so-recent release of Digimon Masters Online with yet another cheap, depressing free to play MMORPG experience that’s sure, if nothing else, to remind you just how little some areas of this industry are able to evolve.
Launched this month (yes, that’s right, the same month as Guild Wars 2), Knight Age personifies the lack of growth in the free to play MMO world by offering an entirely typical MMORPG frame with little innovation, and plenty of imitation.
Beginning with character creation, players are offered a choice between 4 cookie-cutter classes with limited customisation and fixed gender. Followed by an agonising tutorial and a spattering of ‘auto-run here, kill this, auto-run back’ quests, it’s not until you’re introduced to your first Pupa that you begin to wonder if there may be something hidden beneath the rough.
And though that still may be the case, Pupa’s certainly aren’t it. Following in the vein of the long-forgotten Tamagotchi era, Pupa’s are obtained by locating eggs around the world and returning them to a Pupa Master to have them attached to your character. From here, they can be summoned via the inventory or Pupa screen, and will fight at your side, slowly gaining experience and increasing in level.
Possibly the only redeeming element of this system, Pupa’s can be fed items, such as armour and weapons, to help them grow at a faster rate – and too, after they’ve been fed enough to gain the required amount of ‘panta’, can create gems to improve the armour of your character.
Hey – I said it was possibly redeeming, not logical or interesting. But it’s something, and as you increase in levels, collect new Pupa’s and evolve them, there’s potential for things to get a little more interesting. Of course, that doesn’t change much, given that the engine and UI design feel as though they were developed a decade past, with navigation and combat mechanics suitable for a similar era.
That said, there’s something of a community gathering around Knight Age, and it’s largely due to the only other vaguely innovative feature that the game appears to offer: Mounted Combat.
Like Pupa’s, mounts in Knight Age, first accessible at level 5, act as pets, in that they can be trained and fet and grown – and, of course, you can fight on them. Not the most revolutionary of gameplay additions, to be sure, but it seems to have a lot of players happy with the results.
Though, with no option for HD resolution, a multitude of reported bugs and balance issues and some truly painful translations, it’s clear that Knight Age is little more than another shallow attempt at generating revenue in an oversaturated industry that caters to it. Sure, many people might enjoy playing it, and were it released a decade ago, I might have too. But, it wasn’t released a decade ago. It was released a week ago. And it’s just not up to par.