Kingsgrave review

by on April 23, 2024
Reviewed On
Also Tested On
Release Date

April 17, 2024.


There’s such an interesting discussion to be had about how much hand-holding is correct in a video game. I often admire a video game for just unleashing you into a world and making you learn how things work yourself, and often find myself moaning about AAA games constantly telling me what to do, where to go, or how to solve a puzzle before I’ve even had a chance to think about my situation. Conversely, though, when a game doesn’t give you a nudge in the right direction there’s a decent chance you’ll get frustrated when not knowing what to do next, or even miss something hugely important early on. Kingsgrave is a game that really isn’t fond of holding your hand, for better or worse.

In Kingsgrave you play as the titular king of a once thriving land that has been hit by a terrible disease. While your subjects have been suffering and dying you’ve been in a deep sleep and missed all the drama, and upon waking discover your kingdom lying in ruin. Not one to leave his people high and dry, the king sets off on a journey to reclaim his land for the people and save the day.


This is all explained in a few lines of dialogue, and then you’re immediately sent out into the world to go kill some plague monsters. You’re free to go in any direction, but will find plenty of obstacles blocking your path that you can’t deal with yet. Kingsgrave is essentially a Metroidvania, and until you find a pick that will deal with the rocks blocking your path you won’t get far into the game.

Unlike most Metroidvanias where upgrades are dished out after boss fights, though, in Kingsgrave the majority of new powers come from the people. By freeing enough of your subjects and collecting the materials they need to open up their businesses you’ll gain access to new weapons, abilities, and places to trade for materials. Materials are the lifeblood of Kingsgrave, not only useful for gaining new abilities, but also building bridges to get to new places.

All of this is engaging and enjoyable, providing a gameplay loop that gives out just the right amount of rewards. To ensure you get these, however, you’ll need to actually do some fighting, and that’s where my enjoyment of Kingsgrave began to wane. With sluggish movement and a short range on way too many of your weapons, taking down enemies without getting hurt can be an exercise in frustration. With melee combat functioning in a twin stick style I never felt comfortable fighting the baddies, and it often led to my swinging being a little off, which is only made worse by the range of your weapons.


The developers of Kingsgrave describe the game as being inspired by classic The Legend of Zelda games, but honestly that feels like a bit of a reach. The top down perspective is certainly the same, but outside of that there aren’t a whole lot of similarities. Every so often you’ll find a puzzle or two that will block your progress or hide an optional power up which feels a little Zelda-esque, but pretty much all my favourite things about those classics are missing in Kingsgrave.

For me one of the most frustrating elements of Kingsgrave (even above the issues I had with the combat) was the lack of direction it gives. You’re never told where you need to go next, be it by a direct marker on your map, or by an NPC pointing you in the right direction, and especially when you’re a few hours in it becomes very easy to forget the places a new power up might open up. There’s no reason you couldn’t get a nudge in the right direction when you’re stuck, but instead much of my time saving the kingdom was spent wandering aimlessly through the same areas.


Because of the lack of guidance I missed out on a particularly useful item for hours of my playthrough: the map. I could’ve collected this absolutely essential upgrade about twenty minutes into the game, but because I forgot one area that was opened up by the first power up you unlock I had no way of knowing where I was for so much of my time with Kingsgrave. I’ll admit a lot of this was due to my own ineptitude, but it’s also pretty unacceptable to make a map (that also enables fast travel) something you can miss.

Kingsgrave has a wonderful gameplay loop of gathering materials and receiving upgrades, but there are just too many issues that prevent that from being quite enough. Issues like the combat being clunky and unintuitive, and a distinct lack of guidance meaning you’ll rarely know where to go next. With just a few of its problems ironed out Kingsgrave would be a really enjoyable game, but as it stands it’s difficult to recommend without caveats.


A fun loop of gathering materials and getting upgrades
Lots of freedom to explore
Some fun puzzles to solve


Combat is sluggish
Lack of direction
Making the map missable is unforgivable

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Kingsgrave has a fun loop of material gathering for upgrades, but the clunky combat and refusal to give any guidance makes it hard to easily recommend.