The world of Teana is comprised of a series of islands, which are mostly divided among the various races. There are dwarf islands, undead islands, islands of human troops, and a demon island. While the troop availability and enemy composition is randomly generated with each new game, players can generally expect to find the troops usually match the lands currently being visited. Islands can only be accesses once Amelie gains the proper navigational chart, most of which are guarded by particularly powerful stacks of enemies. There is a cheesy (or, perhaps, “tactically sound”) way for players to “kite” the chart guardians away from their posts, allowing players to gain access to islands much more quickly than would otherwise be possible. In fact, much of the game can be spent in real-time, dodging enemies and gaining the valuable items found lying about the maps. Of course Ameile doesn’t gain much experience this way, but she can become quite powerful early on, allowing her to return to low-level islands and clean house. Besides running about the map on trusty steed or ship, after completing a certain quest near the midpoint of the game, Amelie’s horse gains the ability to take to the air. This allows players to more readily skirt about the islands, grabbing treasures while dodging enemies. The winged horse is a nice touch to the series, and it really changes the way exploring is done.
Like in The Legend, troops for sale in Armored Princess don’ t replenish often, if at all. Combined with the completely random distribution of troops in the game, this can mean that players may never find enough of a favorite troop in a given playthrough. And even if the troops can be acquired, the best troops are often in extremely limited supply, so losing even a few units during a given battle can be devastating. Items and spells, like troops, are also randomly generated each game, so players cannot be guaranteed to find that favorite spell or complete that set of items each game. This can mean a very different play each time through, especially if players come to rely on a given spell combination that may never even come to be discovered. Some people will find this a bit of a put-off, but I find it makes me try out new troop, spell, and item combination strategies.
King’s Bounty: Armored Princess looks and controls exactly like the original, for better or worse. I like the style and feel of the series, and I easily fell right in to playing off the bat. That being said, it certainly isn’t necessary to have played the original to enjoy the expansion, which is in many ways a little better polished. And while I found a great deal of enjoyment out of Armored Princess, the expansion doesn’t bring enough to the table to make those who didn’t quite like the original to change their minds. That being said, I find myself still playing new combinations of troops and classes, and having quite a blast doing so. All in all, King’s Bounty: Armored Princess is a solid title for fans of the original, and a fun romp for turn-based fantasy enthusiasts.
A solid standalone expansion to one of my favorite time-sinks, Armored Princess has enough new goodies and little bits of polish to make for quite an enjoyable time.
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