My wife and I are both gamers, but we prefer different genres. She enjoys farming, life simulation, and collecting, with some adventure and task completion tossed in to keep things moving. Some of her favorite games are Animal Crossing, The Sims, Harvest Moon, Zelda, and Skyrim. My tastes tend to fall more on the shooter, racing, and action adventure side of things. Some of my favorites are Destiny 2, Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, and Zelda.
We like to play together but our differences make finding a game that we both enjoy challenging. I find Animal Crossing boring and she thinks Call of Duty is a loud obnoxious mess. The last co-op games we played were the Harry Potter Lego series. We have fooled around with Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker. Its puzzles are intriguing, but it is low in entertainment value.
I was exploring the games made available by the Xbox Game Pass and Games with Gold when I stumbled upon Portal Knights. We decided to try it out in split-screen and purchase a copy for our separate devices if we liked the game because co-op is fine, but sharing is too much to ask for any married couple. Portal Knights is available on the Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC, Android, and iOS.
We played through the intro and enough of the game to see that we would keep playing. Then we each purchased the bundle that included all the DLC for our Switches. The game works fine in split-screen. We specifically wanted a game we could play when the TV was unavailable.
What is Portal Knights? I think the best way to categorize the game is to call it a compilation. It starts off with your standard RPG character creation. Choose your class, edit your looks, and pick your skills. In the base game there are three classes. The bundle or, DLC adds two more. The lady went mage, and I chose a bow wielding scout. There is an excellent array of choices to make your avatar personal.
The worlds your characters have their adventure in are created randomly a` la Minecraft. Speaking of the block-based juggernaut, Portal Knights borrows more than just the random world generation. The blocky feeling is present as are mining for resources, building, recipes, different types of work benches, and the need for shelter. You will be digging up dirt, stone, metals, jewels, various plant materials and more to fill your inventory with the stuff you need to upgrade your tools and rank up. There are also creative mode worlds with no combat or questing.
In adventure mode, some of the resources you’ll need can only be acquired in combat. The combat is third or first person, you can switch at will, and ranges from easy to intense. There are many unique enemies that each have their own weaknesses. Armored knights, flying critters, shelled turtle creatures, and giant boss fights with everything from squid to dragons keep the action exciting. Your chosen class of warrior does not preclude you from using the other types of weapons if you build or pick them up. My bowman is quite adept with a sword when he needs to be. There are potions, shields, spells, scrolls, magic items, and other RPG items to be deployed against your foes.
The game takes place on multiple islands that are spread across multiple planets. Each island is centered around particular resources and inhabited by various characters some of whom will ask you to complete certain tasks or quests to move the story forward. You mine in part to obtain colored magic stones that allow you to complete portals that jump you to other islands and planets so that you can complete more of the story.
What makes the game a great co-op experience is the blend of RPG, combat, adventure, mining, farming, and building. There’s something you will enjoy doing no matter what type of gamer you are. A good balance of open-world exploration and quest driven tasks keeps you and your partner from floundering about without a clue, while still allowing you to wander. Some of the characters are cute and entertaining while others are nefarious and clearly need to be vanquished. The game tries to have a little of everything in it and does a respectable job of balancing it all. It plays especially well on the Switch due to the combination of physical controls for your character and touch for the numerous menus. My wife and I are about twenty hours in and still going strong.