For The King has been in my Twitch account for literal years but the combination of the generic name, generic art style, and generic description just sapped any interest I had whenever I came across it, and I never played it. Until someone heaped it with praise in another forum, and that convinced me to give it a go.
It’s ostensibly a roguelike, complete with an “expect to die a lot” notification on the main menu, but I won my very first attempt, and it only took me… eight hours. Yeah, it’s LONG. You have a hex-based overworld full of towns, monsters, dungeons, random events, and a day-night-cycle, and you control three characters separately and engage monsters in turn-based combat with “coin flips” to determine the success or failure of your attacks and abilities.* Your characters gain XP from combat and level up, gain loot and gold to spend in towns, where you also pick up sidequests, and all the while you travel the land (which is HUGE) following orders from whatever commanding voice gives you your main quest at the moment.
So yeah, it’s pretty meaty for a roguelike. This is basically a full seven-course meal of RPG mechanics exploding out of a takeout box labeled “roguelike”. There are six campaigns with three difficulty levels each, but I can’t imagine wanting to play any of them more than once. On top of that, there’s an unlock system for additional weapons, armor, characters, overworld events, and cosmetics, but I haven’t needed (or noticed the absence of) a single one in my first playthrough. I just went out, killed monsters, raided dungeons, decked out my characters in the shiniest loot, and by basically following the main quest and using my brain I killed the final boss with a whole pile of rare emergency consumables to spare.
But I prefer this to the alternative, where I sink four hours into a single playthrough and die somehow, then be forced to do it all over again but with maybe an extra overworld event unlocked. I just see no reason for this to be a roguelike at all. Aside from that, though, it’s well-designed, satisfying, the RNG doesn’t drive me crazy (which it almost always does in tactics games), sufficiently complex to provide interesting choices but not so much that it’s overwhelming, and presented in a UI that’s not so clunky that it’s a pain in the ass to play and not so obtuse that you can’t figure out what anything does. I don’t think I love any part of it, but it accomplishes everything it sets out to do with competence. So the developers deserve a lot of credit for that, at least.
A weapon can have an accuracy of one to six “coin flips” with the average being 3 to 4, meaning that it flips that many coins. A perfect attack succeeds on all flips and usually has an extra effect, failing one or more coin flips results in less damage and accuracy, and failing all of them might break your weapon. Your character’s awareness stat determines how likely any given coin flip is to succeed, and tends to be between 70 and 90%. You also have a limited pool of focus points (3 to start with but up to 8 if you stack the right equipment buffs) which you can spend to guarantee that some (or all) of your coin flips succeed, as well as giving a bonus to the accuracy to the rest of them. On top of this, certain attacks (both yours and the enemy’s) inflict status effects, which can deal damage over time, reduce your defenses, or remove any status immunities you might have. These only last until the end of combat, but curses (only inflicted by enemies) persist out of combat and you need to use a consumable or pay for the exorcist in town to remove them. Other consumables regain health or focus, or boost evasion or speed, and there are rare ones that buff/heal the entire party or damage all enemies, which you probably won’t get more than a handful of over the course of the game.