Review – Knights of Honor II: Sovereign

Knights of Honor II: Sovereign

Medieval PC strategy games are a dime a dozen. Nearly literally as Humble Bundle frequently hosts packs of them starting at a dollar. Not bad games either, but genre standouts like Crusader Kings and Civilization. So when you’re making a game in arguably PC gaming’s biggest genre, you’re already on the back foot. Any idea you have, odds are somebody already did it. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to break into this scene, as the sublime Old World proved last year. You just need to have passion, an eye for detail, and an intimate knowledge of the genre from both sides of the screen. Sadly, these are things that Knights of Honor II: Sovereign critically seems to lack.

I must say, something about the font the game uses is absolutely beautiful.

The premise is as simple and generic as it gets. It’s a real time strategy game set during the Middle Ages. You begin the game by choosing a starting date and nation. You choose from a world map similar to Crusader Kings, with every nation on the map available. Already though, the cracks are showing. When compared to something like Crusader Kings, the scale is dramatically smaller with much fewer choices. Both in nations and starting dates, with the latter only having three choices. What’s really confusing however is that there’s no description of what each nation feels like to play, nor what’s different from other nations. There’s a small blurb about the nation chosen, and that’s it. Not the best start.

Then you get dropped onto the world map and into one of the worst tutorials I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, tutorials in strategy games are a mixed bag at the best of times. Despite being such a complicated genre, far too many titles in it fail to properly educate players. But Knights of Honor II: Sovereign takes it to a new low. All you get is a pop up with a few windows to read through. No guided tour, no suggested next steps, no helpful walkthrough of your first few turns. It describes very dryly a few basic UI and game features, and then that’s mostly that. Occasionally there will be a new pop-up, but mostly not. And what’s written is extremely basic and unhelpful. Overall, it makes this a discover as you play kind of game. Which isn’t always bad to be fair. 

Kingdom is at war with everyone, nobody is happy, but who wants to party?

However in this case, it’s not good. Which isn’t to say that Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is a bad game. It’s not really. It’s just not a good game. Nor does it particularly show some promise or potential to keep one intrigued. The more I played, and the more I figured out how the game worked, the more I realized I could be playing anything else instead. And it is fairly basic as games like this go. You have a world map where you build up your kingdom, march your armies, and engage in diplomacy. And everything is exactly as it is in other games, but less polished. When in battle you can either auto-battle, or be taken to a Total Waresque RTS battle on field. Except I don’t suggest you do that because the enemy AI, unit pathing, and unit variety is all quite poor. 

The biggest problem I had though was how slow it was. Everything happens at a snails pace. Which is bizarre because you usually expect RTS’ to be fast. Which I suppose is how Knights of Honor II: Sovereign bucks the trend, because it isn’t here. Your armies take forever to march, your resources take forever to build up, and things take way to long to build. My personal theory is that this is due to the complexity to running a Total War styled World Map in real time. But the solution to that is to do what every other game who faced that issue did, go turn-based. Making it so slow you can take small naps while you wait for something to happen was definitely not the answer. 

No king lives forever, at least not in my dungeons.

Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is the kind of game that confuses me with its existence. It’s not for newcomers with its real-time world map on top of real time combat. Even slowed down to turtle speed, it’s still a lot for someone who’s never played a game like this to start with. Especially with the complete lack of a worthwhile tutorial to lead them through the game. And it’s definitely not for genre veterans, given they’ll have played ten games that do everything better than this one. Nor is there anything special or unique about it to separate it from those ones either. So I don’t think this is a overtly bad game, with nothing about it that makes it bad merely boring. But I don’t understand who would ever play it or why. Crusader Kings 3 is cheaper, bigger, more intuitive, better looking, and just more fun. 

Graphics: 6.0

It looks nice, not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but not the worst.

Gameplay: 6.0

Everything here feels familiar, yet unpolished, poorly explained, and overly slow.

Sound: 7.5

No voice-acting I could find, but I did quite enjoy the soundtrack when it wasn’t randomly shutting itself off.

Fun Factor: 5.0

A medieval strategy game needs something to stand out from the crowd, but this one does nothing but copy ideas poorly from other much better games. 

Final Verdict: 6.0

Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Knights of Honor II: Sovereign was provided by the publisher.