My Favorite Games! 8: King's Field II

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Posted by JasonR86 (10178 posts) -

I'm back! Someone got busy. It was me, I got busy. But, I'm back and ready to talk about a great game. The 8th on my favorite list. For my 9th and 10th favorite games, go here (9) and here (10). Go to the tenth favorite game to get a sense of what I mean by 'favorite'.

So my 8th favorite game of all time is King's Field II.

King's Field 2 came out in 1996 for the Playstation. I originally played it around 1998, when I was 12-13. At the time, I had had a Nintendo 64 and prior to that the Genesis / Sega-CD / 32X. My experience with the Sega-CD had changed my perspective on games...in a good way. That system gets a bad rap man. It wasn't all FMV games! Anyway, I played a ton of PC ports on that system and through that experience what I ended up wanting out of games changed a lot. I went from wanting immediate action and gratification to games with a lot of tone and atmosphere. Games like the last two games I highlighted in this series, one of them a Sega-CD game.

King's Field II, the precursor to the Souls games and created by the same developer, From Software, has atmosphere and tone for days. Granted, playing it now, that tone and atmosphere may not seem quite as heavy hitting but at the time it was a powerful experience for me. Everything just seemed so bleak and dark. Everyone is so bummed. Characters you meet will die throughout the game. Also there's like 15 NPCs in the whole game because everyone else is dead. The music, though not great, helps set that tone. So do the graphics. They are archaic and won't even all that great at the time but the art design is striking. It has the dark fantasy look that From would display in the Souls games.

Speaking of Souls games, most of the mechanics in those games are in full force here. There's a stamina gauge that is effected by attack and running. There's a magic system akin to Dark Souls 3. There's a concept of usable healing items akin to Demon's Souls. The game is fully nonlinear, like Dark Souls. King's Field 1, though a good game, felt more compact than King's Field 2. King's Field 1 took place on a grouping of islands. A grouping of incredibly complex islands, mind you, but the scope was still compressed down to those islands. King's Field 2 felt like a huge land mass. But it's smartly designed as well. You can go anywhere, theoretically, but there are places that are locked off until you have the requisite equipment to proceed. But, even with areas locked off, the player has 2-4 areas available to explore at any given time during the game. There's somewhat of a homogeneity to the look of the different areas in the game but the level design changes quite a lot adding new, unique, and often very difficult components to each dungeon, town, cave, castle, mine, etc.

When I first played this game, I kind of hated it. I loved the atmosphere and tone. I really wanted to like what I was doing. But I couldn't wrap my head around it. But I kept crashing against that rock, sort of like I did with Dark Souls (my first Souls-like game), and eventually it clicked and when it did all I wanted to do was play the game. It became an obsession like many a person's first Souls game that clicks becomes their obsession. Like those people as well this first Souls game that clicked for me, though it's actually a Field game, has become one of my favorite games after it had clicked. It became my 8th favorite game, in fact.

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#1 Edited by Manburger (72 posts) -

Terrific write-up! :D

Never played a King's Field game, but I've seen/read a bit about it at this point, and it has become apparent that the journey to Dark Souls (incidentally, one of my favourite games) is longer than most people think.

While Hidetaka Miyazaki certainly deserves credit for being a rad game designer/director, From deffo had already been nurturing a certain grimddark medieval fantasy action aesthetic/sensibility for a bit.

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#2 Posted by Rorie (4128 posts) -

@jasonr86: I remember getting a free copy of this through a contest way back when! As a proto-Dark Souls, it's still a really interesting artifact, although the movement speed would be tough to go back to at this point.

Staff
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#3 Posted by csl316 (13925 posts) -

Hipster.

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#4 Posted by JasonR86 (10178 posts) -

@csl316: Wait till you see the rest of the list.

@rorie: I play it about once a year and the movement speed is really rough. But by about the halfway point I usually end up getting used to it. Though circle strafing with the d-pad and L1/R1 for 20+ hours does a number on your thumb.

: @manburger: Thanks for the compliment dude! It's really interesting going back and seeing the shared design elements and aesthetic.

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#5 Posted by JasonR86 (10178 posts) -

Hah, I edited the blog on my phone and it got a bit messed up. I'll fix the blog and make it all snazzy when I get back home, new readers.

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#6 Posted by Hassun (7883 posts) -

I could never get into the King's Field games. The visual design, gameplay and first person perspective completely pushed me away.

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#7 Posted by Xdeser2 (259 posts) -

Oh man, back when I was a little kid I played Kings Field 2 and didnt have any clue about what I was doing. After becoming a huge Dark Souls fan years later , I really want to go back to it.

Can anyone recommend a good PS1 emulator?

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