Pre-order bonus’ are for lack of a better work, rubbish. If it isn’t some inconsequential mission that adds very little to the overall experience, it’s a goofy costume that you’ll likely put on once for the novelty and then never use again. This is probably a good thing, the last thing we gamers would want is entire quest lines and essentially content locked behind a pre-order bonus. And that brings me to A King’s Tale a brilliant little old school throw back, that I’d have never had the chance to experience had Square Enix not been kind enough to release it free on the PSN store a few weeks ago. Originally available exclusively as a pre-order bonus at GameStop, A King’s Tale is far better than it has any right to be and is definitely worth the couple of hours it’ll take to play it.
Like previous XV supplementary’s Kingsglaive and Brotherhood, King’s Tale follows a part of the XV’s story that isn’t really explored in game, King Regis’s similar adventures in his youth. With admittedly more embellishment and change ups for its bedtime story framing. It’s nothing substantial and doesn’t effect the main game in any way, however getting to see Regis and his group of friends, as well as see Regis and Noct bonding was a tiny but appreciated piece of lore. Couple that with a surprise appearance of an FF classic character and it’s an extremely light but enjoyable little adventure.
But what seriously impressed me with King Tale was its combat system that manages to be brilliantly simple while also throwing in strategy and challenge, all wrapped in a style and ability system that feels completely faithful to the main game. At its most basic King’s Tale is a Streets of Rage style beat ’em up, the player has one main abilities light attack, heavy attack, block and roll, all fairly basic but it’s how the player needs to use each different for each enemy. For instance the samurai enemies defence can only be broken with a heavy attack, while the skeleton enemies defence can only be broken with a block attack. Non of which is entirely difficult until you start to throw all the different enemy types and their unique defences together, the game has a great variety of enemy types making fighting a large group of them far more challenging and varied than first thought. Add to that partner ability that work similar to the techniques in XV and armatization mode that again works like in the main game and you have a little hour and a half long blast from start to finish.
Couple the fun gameplay with some charming and well done sprite work on both player and enemy characters, with nice little details in character animations and dialogue models. A nice variety in locations ranging from Insomnia, grasslands, desert and caves over its bit size campaign. A surprising amount of cutscene and dialogue sections really do round out A King’s Tale into something with far more polish and care than it really has any right to as a simple pre-order bonus. Completing the games hour or so campaign unlocking dream sequence mode that essentially acts as challenge mode, that adds maybe another hour to the overall length. There’s also trophies to get for completionists.