Thursday, July 31, 2014

The King's Field - Demon/Dark Souls Connection

If you have played any of the "Souls" games (Demon Souls, Dark Souls), you know they are one of the cool surprises of the previous generation and one of the few gaming franchises that made the old school style of gaming new again with all its challenge and deep game play elements. Now, you know that these games are very good, but did you know that they are not a completely new thing? By "not new" I don't exactly mean that their style has been used before because that is pretty obvious. What I mean is that the "Souls" games are a spiritual sequel to a gaming franchise of the past in the same way that Bio Shock is a spiritual sequel to System Shock.

Kings Field Cover Box Art

That franchise from the past is called King's Field. It was one of those rare RPG games that appeared on the 32 and 128 bit eras and was one of those games that you used to find on game stores and asked yourself "what the hell is this about?" as you held the jewel case in your hands and saw that it was something different to what you were used to see at the time, a 3D first person RPG on a time where the Elder Scrolls saga was not as popular as it is now. The curious thing about this is that some of the creative minds behind the "Souls" franchise are also the ones that worked on King's Field back in the day and they managed to keep their "high difficulty - great reward" mindset even to this day. This series spawned 4 games, the first 3 of them releasing on the PS ONE and the fourth one on the PlayStation 2 with the name of King's Field: The Ancient City.

Kings Field Battle Mummies
One mistake and our hero ends up joining the mummy club.
As stated before, King's Field was a first person RPG that focused its game play on exploration and puzzle solving with a really steep learning curve and hardcore difficulty. The games had a back story, but most of the time you were alone, exploring various dungeons and towns with certain death just looking at you from around the corner and NPC characters that talked to you in cryptic ways. The King's Field games were really hard and building up your character was even harder at least through the first 10 levels or so, mostly because attacking was so slow that most of the enemies could pretty easily hit you more times that you could hit them unless you used magic or ranged weapons and that just made it a little easier. All these things made up for a game that was so challenging, that gamers were divided into those who loved it and those who hated it, without any middle ground at all.

Kings Field The Ancient City
King's Field: The Ancient City addressed some of the issues of the previous games.
All of these hardcore game play elements may seem may seem familiar to you and this is because King's Field was the predecessor to the "Souls" (Bloodborne in a near future) line of games. All of the elements are there from the very beginning: a dark story line developing on a desolated and twisted world, enemies that can instantly kill you if you stray too far, lots of secrets and treasures to find, cryptic NPC characters that you can kill and lose for the rest of the playthrough, lots of mini stories within the main story, a defensive style of battle (which is going to change to an offensive one in Bloodborne) and even the classic bonfires appear on both franchises although they are not that useful in King's Field. In fact the game atmospheres on these two franchises are so similar, that you could just take any of the "Souls" games, put it on a first person perspective and there you go, King's Field V.

King's Field - Dark Souls Bonfire
Two rpg game franchises united by bonfires.
Wrapping it up

There you go people, if you are a "Souls" fan, now you know the deep roots of the game you like so much. If you feel a little adventurous and you can't wait for Bloodborne to come out, you can give the King's Field games a try. Of course they are not as comfortable and good looking as the "Souls" series, but if you manage to get the hang of them, they can become very good experiences as their emphasis on exploration is something pretty rare nowadays that only survived on the "Souls" series.  

Kings Field Sword of Moonlight

Bonus stage!

If you like to make mods or would like to make your own hardcore first person RPG, you can try King's Field: Sword of the Moonlight, which is a design tool that lets you create your own stand alone King's Field style games while also including the complete remake of the first title in the franchise. This was only released in Japan, but there is an unofficial English patch you could use.

If you like to try it, you can get Sword of Moonlight HERE with all the tools you need including the English patch. This sparks my curiosity so I will try it too, maybe later on we can compare some of our Moonlight sword made games.

VG-24/7: From King's Field to Bloodborne
Sword of Moonlight Community

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