Once Upon a Knight Review

Whenever you see a movie in which one of the characters has multiple personalities, each of the personalities is often interesting in its own right. This invariably makes these misfortunate characters fascinating to watch, capturing our attention. In Once Upon a Knight we have a game with a split personality. You’d think that a game that was half real-time strategy and half action-RPG would be both intriguing and fun to play. In this case, however, we have two quite bland personalities working together to make a disjoint and bland game – and two mediocre games for the price of one is no bargain.

An RTS battle rages - the cows were left home.

In Once Upon a Knight, you are Prince John and have been kidnapped by the evil wizard Valtamand. Luckily for you, Valtamand is somewhat incompetent and you’re able to make your escape when he experiences some technical difficulties with his spells. As the game opens, you are free and must work to regain your throne and kingdom.

The game’s RTS side leaves a lot to be desired with many standard RTS features completely absent, but let’s start by looking at the “milk-based” economy. The game seems to feel that the milk-based economy is an innovative feature and worth hyping, going so far as to feature a cow prominently on the front of the game box. However, all this amounts to is that your resource collectors are cows who go out in the fields, eat grass, and return periodically with milk. Also, the cost of all units and structures in the game are expressed in units of milk. That’s it. It’s just a resource (and the only resource in the game) that could easily be gold or wood or even chocolate chip cookies for that matter. It seems that the game’s developers just happened to think that milk is funnier.

Once Upon a Knight manages to make its RTS component unappealing to either of the two main types of RTS players: those who like to build massive bases and economies to match and those who prefer to mass large armies. First of all, there are only a handful of units available and each side has the same ones. What’s more is that there is a lack of balance/counterbalance between the unit types. It’s as if the designers figured they’d cover the basics – “Hmm, we’ll need some sort of fighting unit, a spell casting one or two, and a healer. OK, that’s all we need, let’s go and have some milk now.” There is no tech tree to speak of, and even fewer structures available than units. Another feature sure to perplex RTS fans is that there is only a single global build menu. You tell the game what you want to build and it decides where the unit should show up when produced. So much for forward bases or multiple production structures. The RTS game really boils down to small battles between identical units and stealing other player’s cows.